Here I am by video; talking to you person to person. A new approach to the blog.
Here I am by video; talking to you person to person. A new approach to the blog.
Before the police informed us that Jennifer Hart was the one with her foot on the accelerator I already knew from this photo it was her. When the story first broke, this was one of the photos we were shown and it hit me immediately. I could see the narcissistic tendencies begging to be shown as if to say “Look at me!” She is leaning forward asking for the most attention while her partner is leaning back, wanting less of the light. Her brood of four (out of six are under her) and you can see the command she holds over them. Sure you might say, it is easy for me to say now that we know all the details.
I am an ex-social worker with eight years at CPS (Childrens Protective Services) in California. Now I work in private practice and specialize in working with victims and survivors of emotional abuse (from a Narcissistic parent or partner). I always tell my clients and I will say this about Jennifer Hart as well. I am not diagnosing your parent or partner (or Jennifer). I am just saying that it sounds like this person has narcissistic tendencies. It is not ethical to diagnose someone we have not met. Most often my clients come in and tell me their parent or partner is narcissistic based on what they read online. I always check their stories out by looking for the tell tale signs. The language of the perpetrator (they all seem to use the same phrases, like they all speak Narcissistic French), the walking on eggshells of the victim, it is always the victims fault and the perpetrator is never sorry or never takes responsibility. The victim/survivor has lost their sense of self after years of emotional abuse and being told it is their fault and trying desperately to make their parent or partner right or hold them up on a pedestal of some sort. Sometimes there is violence and this usually occurs when the narcissistic person has been pushed up against the wall (metaphorically) by their pathology by the victim or in Jennifer Harts case, her perceived threat of her ego by CPS. The violence happens to re-assert their power.
These perpetrators have been working on their externalized stories and behaviors since early childhood, sometimes even infancy.
In this case though, what bugs me even more is whether or not CPS even spoke to these six children, ALONE. In the last article I read, which came from the New York Times they mention the reports from CPS being released in court. I see in this article where CPS spoke to the parents but I see know mention of speaking to the children. Maybe they did and it is not shown here but it begs the question.
The reason I speculate this lack of efficiency is that these children, we have been told in several articles, had no problems going to teachers or complete strangers (neighbors they did not know personally). One photo shows the little boy going up to a police officer in “the famous photo.” Why was he crying that day? People had all kinds of comments about this before he was killed but now, looking back, why was he crying to a police officer? The children, we have been told, went to these neighbors asking for food. They told these people that they were being starved or abused. In the NY Times article the teachers have stated that they got tired of telling CPS because of the retaliation that the children would face as a result of their home visits. This again begs the question: “Did CPS ever speak to any of these six children alone?” They should have spoken with all of them alone and even separately. I am not just saying that because now we know they are dead. I am saying this because this is their JOB.
Obviously a parent or caregiver is not going to say “Sure, I beat my kids,” or “Sure, I starve my children when they are bad,” or “Yeah, I have sex with my children.” This is the reason you always talk to the children alone. You talk to them at school, you talk to them in their bedrooms or take them for a walk outside their home or sit in your car. Anything to get them away from their parents ears and give the child a chance to feel as if they are not going to be in trouble. Then, you don’t go back and tell the parents, “Well your kids said …” and walk out the door.
In this case, the parents (according to NY Times reports of CPS statements) punished their children for having a penny in their pocket and lying about where they got it. The kids were punished for five hours (forced to lay on their beds) for lying about eating all the pizza. What made me think again of the narcissistic behaviors was this statement:
In a 2011 episode, Hannah told a school nurse that she had not eaten. Jennifer Hart then became angry and shoved a banana and nuts into the child’s mouth. When confronted about this, Sarah Hart argued that Hannah was “playing the food card” and should just be given water.
All of this is serious neglect because it is out of the ordinary or unusual punishment. The paragraph above screams out narcissistic language, but all alone would not. However, most people in our profession don’t put a lot of their attention on the subject of narcissism. What she was doing here was shutting her adopted daughter up for what she said, to keep her from speaking again. What her partner was doing was placating her partner (agreeing with her to save their marriage). Sarah, however long she had been with Jennifer, had learned to keep the peace by keeping her happy.
So why, with all these reports, with Jennifer taking the six children out of school and then home-schooling (to have more control), did CPS never take the children out of the home in three states? It still begs the question – Did CPS ever talk to the children alone? If so, why didn’t they believe them? It is pretty rare that a child is going to lie when confronted by an authority figure and in this case, they had already gone to someone who made a report to CPS. They were brave kids, begging for help and no one ever did anything to help them except the mandated reporters and neighbors.
Hint: This is the reason CPS, that mandated reporters and neighbors often don’t report, because they see you are not doing anything about it. Hint: To mandated reporters and neighbors, don’t give up because you are starting a paper trail and eventually CPS will do their job when their hand is forced. AND, if it is not too late.
In my practice, here in Ohio, so many times my clients (who are adults now but some who are still children and had dealings with social services) tell me they never once spoke to the social worker. I often hear “They spoke to my parent,” or “They spoke to me in front of my parent (s).” One young person said to me “What is a social worker?” when I explained this they said “I never spoke to anyone.” I of course spoke to the social worker about this and made it clear that they needed to speak to the child, alone. What are they afraid of? If the social worker is intimidated by the parent, parents, or caregiver, call your supervisor and ask for support or contact the police and ask for them to “keep the peace.” I found you often had to tell the police exactly what they were supposed to do, even though they collaborated with us all the time. Sorry, I am not bashing them but that is what we had to do. Social workers get intimidated by these calls that they make, when confronted by the perpetrator. They are not policemen and are not always strong or street smart and sometimes are newbies.
In this case, there was mention of Jennifer drinking. Narcissism is a character trait of addictions. Obviously, since their only priority is getting a fix (drink or drug). Ironically, the last photo of Jennifer is in a convenience store buying food (bananas – again bananas – it appears) and two other items which I can’t make out from a video surveillance camera. She has a look of disdain on her face. Unlike the other photos of her, where she is aware she is getting publicity that she wants, she is unkempt (like most people are these days). She is not wearing a bra, she doesn’t have her hair fixed nicely, she has her hand in her pants (to feel secure when you feel insecure). CPS had now been trailing them for three states. She had the kids in home schooling but still they were onto her. It sounds as if the day or days before (the murder) the car was in the driveway but no one answered the door. You can’t knock the door down or even have the police go in unless of course there is perceived danger at that moment. They might have called out a “health and safety check” which the police do when you know they are there and not answering the door.
In all these states mandated reporters were doing their jobs. The neighbors were being a “village” and protecting the children in their own defenseless ways and calling CPS and making anonymous reports. Still nothing happened.
Narcissistic violence is generally spontaneous, not planned out. When I hear clients talk about these scenarios where they had confronted the perpetrator, it is an act on the victims part of standing up for themselves or saying the truth but not expecting it to have any effect on the perpetrator. Usually they would hear “You don’t know what you are talking about,” or some other type of criticism. In these circumstances where violence occurs, the victim continues to push the button (or in this case, CPS doesn’t give up). Violence can be accidental even, such as throwing something and it happens to hit the victim. They could be pushing the victim and they fall down and hit their head on the corner of a table or dresser. Spontaneity means it is not pre-meditated and so they haven’t planned the attack.
In this case, I am reminded (as many adult survivors of abuse can recall) of my parent slamming on the breaks to get us to behave. There were instances of pulling the car over so they could effectively reach back and slap you or wail on you if it was really an annoying behavior. But, Jennifer stopped the car and then here is what I imagine. My theory is she made some last remarks to the children that probably sounded like this “If it weren’t for you…, I have had it with you kids. This is all your fault.” Then with all her self-centered egotistical pride she pushed down on the gas and let it rip.
For all of you, who, like me focus on the “Why didn’t they open the car door and jump out?” The children and partner were probably too paralyzed in the moment to do anything because they were in shock those brief seconds and then it was too late. If they could live to tell us, they would probably say “It all happened so fast.”
Special Note: I have since been given a copy of a report that was put together by OR CPS. This was thanks to another social worker who read this article. Yes, they did in fact talk to the children alone (in this state) but still felt compelled to say “insufficient evidence.” I have since shown it to another social worker whom I once worked with. It is hard to understand what another social worker is thinking or know how much experience they have had in the field or how much training they received (or what their degree is). Hard for me to read the mother stating that she held the child’s head under water, while the other mother helped and think “insufficient evidence.” This is an inappropriate punishment for a little girl. She admitted this. Along with other information given above, there were countless reasons why these parents needed the children removed, court involvement and then decide whether or not they should be returned. Yes, they spoke with the children alone but as the Minnesota teachers said, every time they contacted CPS, the children suffered more abuse. By the time they got to Oregon, they probably weren’t quite eager to talk to someone who wasn’t listening. Obviously OR wasn’t. The children didn’t even admit to the abuse that they had already told people before, which the social worker new about, as it is stated that they did in the report. This would have been a red flag for me. But reading this entire report, about 13 pages and then seeing the conclusion, I am dumbfounded that the children weren’t removed for that report alone.
I like to use movies, literature, TV Dramas and other forms of art to discuss issues we face because then people will hopefully turn to them and re-examine what I am proposing. When it comes to Domestic Violence, most people think that it is simply physical abuse and nothing else. In fact a woman is considered to be in a domestic violence situation when she is emotionally abused (even when nothing else is present). If you are trapped in a relationship because of emotional abuse and manipulation then you do not have the freedom to live your life or make choices and often lose a sense of self. Women are always surprised when I tell them this because they have tried so hard to cover up for their partners for so many years. Sexual abuse has long been undercover because of the assumption presented in society that if he is your husband you are supposed to have sex with him. Often sexual abuse takes play in emotionally abusive situations because he is not afraid to manipulate you in any situation he can.
When I turn to both literature and a musical, I think of characters who never got their woman – and in some situations we feel sad for this; i.e., Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights because it is written for us to believe Heathcliff and Catherine would have had this great love between them. I recall growing up, hearing my friends talk about this terribly romantic story of unrequited love, no different than Romeo and Juliet. In other situations such as Judd in Oklahoma, it is written for us to think of him as a lowlife, even though he is no different than Heathcliff and so in this musical we are grateful that he and Laurey don’t get together. Yet both characters are the same. They are possessive men who don’t get the girl but then continue to show how abusive they are to others. These types of men make me uncomfortable as a woman because I know that had they been able to be in a relationship with the girl, their possession would become much stronger, more dominant and she would have become strangled by their love. It would have led to sexual abuse, possibly even physical abuse. When a person is that narcissistic about their beliefs there is no self-awareness, no self-examination and the result is a catastrophe.
Currently, I am watching the Turkish Muslim TV drama on Netflix entitled “The Girl I Loved.” The story of Heathcliff and Judd are turned around because Timur (pronounced Tee-mur) is now a wealthy businessman and he has control over Mine’s family as he is the boss of the patriarch and later the son too. Mine (pronounced Mee-ney), is in love with Sinan (pronounced See-naan), also from a wealthy family though he is the son of a capitalist and comes across more like a socialist instead. He rejects his money and status for love. The difference here is that Timur is an adult male about 20 years older than Mine and Sinan is a man of about 18 or 19 when he first appears in the drama. Mine is 17 years old. Sinan’s father rejects his love for Mine and when she turns up pregnant (which happens when you have sex carelessly without a thought for being responsible and taking birth control), Sinan’s father whisks him out of the country to America without telling him that his love is pregnant. At the same time, Sinan’s father tells her father – who comes to plead to the family to take responsibility for their son’s and his daughter’s actions – that his son wants nothing to do with his family and they even question the paternity of the child.
Now the story begins. Timur, who had now fallen in love with Mine, a young vulnerable girl who he feels he can relate to, hears of her plight and wants to save her. We have already learned that he has saved the life of his housekeeper, another woman, but we don’t find out her story until much later. She had fallen in love with him but the minute he becomes consumed by Mine, Timur begins to reject his housekeeper and even his daughter. His housekeeper is sent to live elsewhere and return each day to tend to his household needs, whatever and whenever he demands. He marries Mine, after embarrassing the father and the family by asking for her hand – Mine’s father has a lot of pride and does not want his boss to have all this control over his family, the class issue and plus he realizes he is 20 years older. But the mother of Mine, delights in her daughter having this money which means stability so she is more practical and talks her husband into it. This of course causes him to eventually fall in love elsewhere; a different level of the control by men in this story. Mine rejects Timur’s love but is basically forced into the marriage because it will get her father to love her again. He had now considered her dead to him and refused to speak to her. Timur marries Mine, knowing that Sinan didn’t know anything about the pregnancy and is very much in love with her. Eventually the father begins to talk to daughter again and everything is written to look like a happy marriage. The one thing that we can respect Mine for is that she is smart enough to realize that Timur wants her badly and so she makes demands which he actually respects. He will not sleep with her and for a couple of years she even locks her door to ensure this. This caused me to wonder if Timur has sexual problems. I doubt this will be brought into the picture (I am on episode 42 out of 79). I am pretty surprised to see a man who will give up sex in a marriage (and not have a lover on the side). This is how we see how his devotion and love for Mine is more of a religion. He has idolized her to be this saint and will do whatever it takes to have her by his side, even if it is a faux marriage as it is never consummated.
The conflict begins for Mine when Sinan returns from America and eventually he learns that she is pregnant with his son and they both find out that they were tricked. However, by this time, she is so emotionally manipulated by Timur, she cannot see his possession. She is now dressing nicely, like a rich wealthy woman (at first she rejected his money). She doesn’t have to work (at first she did anyway) and has now returned to college though there is no emphasis on this in the story so it is more like an idle past-time that Timur allows her. Mine and Sinan get together many times because she is still so in love with him and they have crying fests over her conflict and his undying love. We also see that Mine has grown up and is putting her child’s needs first (the martyr) and that Sinan is trapped in a fantasy of young love he is still chasing. He is unable to accept that she has grown as a woman and his jealousy has made him into a whiney little boy rather than growing and taking steps to turn this situation around. I keep wondering why he doesn’t hire an attorney to fight for paternity, visitation as well as put on a suit and become a responsible man that Mine will fall in love with all over again. If he fought for her and his son this way, she would be able to respect him. His character seems doomed though and when I accidentally read someone’s English comments I found out this is exactly what does happen in the final episode.
This emotional manipulation of Timur goes to great lengths that many women cannot see in their relationships (straight and even lesbian/gay). Timur stalks her first with a cell phone that she must answer whenever he calls. He locks her in the room himself and doesn’t let her leave (the fact that there is a sliding glass door on one side of her room is now hidden from camera and we the audience are supposed to forget it is there). He steals her phone so she cannot call anyone and even when her parents show up unannounced he talks them into believing this is just a lover’s quarrel. The first time she leaves him to go and clear her head at her aunt’s house – he follows her there and brings her back home. The second time she is already there and in front of all the women in her family tells him she needs time to think. This time he is too embarrassed to do something in front of these women and leaves. However, he is there every day and calls every day to check up on the son and her. Each time he arrives he pesters her again about why she is doing this and how much he loves her and so on and so on. How is she expected to actually think – I wonder? But he has no respect for his wife. He idolizes her and she can do no wrong but he doesn’t want her to think, he wants her to remain stupid and naïve so he can continue to possess her. We are still led to believe he is undaunted by the fact that they have not had sex and he has not had sex either for the past two-three years now.
What is saddest of all is Timur’s daughter, Merve (pronounced Mare-vey) who is so caught up in her love for her father that it would seem incestuous driven though this is normal for a child psychologically, i.e., the Oedipus complex. She has lost her mother (story is vague) and dad has been there for her until Mine, to the point of it seeming a little too close, on his part. Because she is bright enough to see her father’s obsession for Mine, she tries all types of tricks to get her father to notice her including attempting to kill herself (accidentally as this wasn’t her intent) and controlling Mine while she was pregnant (though Mine didn’t care because she didn’t want to be there anyway at the onset). When her father continues to reject her, even after a temporary “I am sorry, I still love you” moment between father and daughter, Merve goes in another direction. She is the one to tell Sinan about his son and was the one who brought Mine and Sinan together initially when he returns from America. She finally gives up and decides the only way to get her dad’s love is to love his “son” and be nice to Mine. You can see though how she is falling apart emotionally and I can only imagine, as a psychotherapist and if they write the story correctly, that she will eventually fall into the hands of a male that she will either control or be controlled by dependent on how vulnerable the character is shown over the years. It will depend on whether she is a survivor with one more trick up her sleeve or completely collapses altogether because some cocky guy makes her feel loved once again. Either way, it won’t end good for this young child because her father continues to ignore her over and over again as if she is nothing more than the housekeeper.
Now, if you were to be Turkish and could read all the comments on Turkish websites about this show, you might see a lot of favoritism toward Timur. This show is trying desperately to go in his direction and give you the idea that he is the one for Mine. At the same time, they are not allowing the Sinan/Mine relationship to end – it keeps the show rolling but they continue to show it as pitiful and hopeless and leave us to believe that Mine will end up consummating her relationship with Timur. Perhaps there are sides – women choosing Sinan and those opting for Timur. I hope she ends up leaving Timur and coming to her senses that she is a grown woman and doesn’t need a man. Both men are equally possessive but Timur is so emotionally abusive and if he ends up owning her 100%, which he is close to now, this won’t be a happy marriage. He lives for conflict because he is a passionate man and will soon need another woman to protect and shelter. How did he get to this place that he felt he was this God of poor lost women? This is what I question as a psychotherapist. What is his backstory? I hope we will find out in the end as I want some closure on this.
In real life though, a middle class woman marrying a rich man is something “dreams” are made of for many young girls. It is a fairytale that we see in cartoons and musicals and classics. So many women have entered into this story and at times it has a happy ending. Other times though it ends with emotional abuse but the woman fights not giving up all her money and prestige. It is a tough call. When you have become enslaved by money, power, prestige, and realize that if you leave this person you will have nothing, may end up being shunned, will fight him in court, and so on, it can cause a woman to remain and this will cause the man to feel he has even more power over her. This of course means more domination and control. Emotional abuse is domestic violence. This needs to be recognized and understood more. It is difficult when the art world romanticizes this and ignores the fact that it exists.
Remember back when you were young. Did you often feel as if you were to blame for everything? Was one sibling revered over you (usually this might be the male child)? Did you try to assert your opinions only to see them turned aside with a phrase similar to “What do you know anyway?” Or at times you might hear “It’s always about you isn’t it?” Did you then and do you now feel as if you are desperately trying to get your parents approval for the decisions you make in life, yet never seem to do anything right? It is very possible that you grew up with a Narcissistic Parent.
My original blog article, The Child of the Narcissist was published in 2011 and today has more than 10,000 readers from around the world – and still counting. I published a part two about a month ago and then just recently put together a CD: The Child of the Narcissist – Guided Meditations for Healing. This CD is available on CreateSpace for only $10.99 a great deal for someone looking for something to utilize as an adjunct to therapy.
A Narcissistic Parent robs a young person of their childhood and then makes life difficult when they try to become a parent themselves. It is emotional abuse that you will suffer your entire life until you take your power back, as an adult. A child of a narcissist has a difficult time individuating from the parent and growing up into an adult. How can you when they are continuously keeping you down? If you also suffered physical and sexual trauma from this parent, it is even more difficult to go out into the world and try your best to be a successful person. The tragedy is that as a child of a narcissist, as long as they hold you emotionally hostage, you continue to seek their approval which you will never get. How do I know all these things? I am not just a psychotherapist but a survivor as well. I took my power back and write about this now on my website jkvegh.com
The Meditations which I recently published on CD through CreateSpace (and soon to come on Amazon) came about as I began to search for a different way to approach clients in the healing process. I am a great believer in meditation and will share this with clients. Then one day I sat down and wrote a script for different meditations that might help a person who was a victim of parental narcissism. Having meditated myself for over 30 years, I used my knowledge of guided meditations from Jon Kabat-Zinn and Shakti Gawain and thought about what someone might need to hear as a child of a narcissist.
This is meant to be an adjunct to therapy because, as a professional, I know doing the CD alone will not be enough. You can’t just self-heal with a series of meditations. Your voice has been blocked and you need to talk and be validated. Make sure you have a therapist whom you are beginning to do work with and have discussed your mother or father with. Of course this might also include other family members too. Whomever you were raised by and considered a parent.
After you listen and participate in the meditations, make sure you have pen/pencil and paper available to do stream of consciousness writing. This is so beneficial to the process as well. A lot will come up for you and you want to jot this down and then share it with your therapist.
Many things are written about Narcissism and there are even many wonderful movies which highlight this topic as well. These are great resources to utilize. However, the most powerful process in healing from Narcissism is transforming from child to adult in therapy. Now I am offering you this really great CD which has different tracks focusing first on the mind – holistic, than on the body – somatic, and finally, on the spirit – transpersonal. Taking your power back from the perpetrator will allow you to have the life you have been holding yourself back from all these years. You deserve it!
“In my day families stayed together,” so sayeth the character Violet, played by Meryl Streep. Violet is in denial yet at other times she is very ruthless about how horrible her mother was to her growing up. As a result of this, Violet has grown up without being nurtured by her parent, without love and an ability to trust someone. Thus we see the makings of a Narcissistic mother. In order for a child, who has grown up like Violet has, to soothe herself, she must externalize the pain and give it somewhere to go so that she can feel safe as a little girl. Then she grows up to have a family and all hell breaks loose.
In comes Barbara, her eldest daughter played by Julia Roberts. Barbara has lived a life with a woman who has never said she was sorry for anything. Barbara grew up being told she could never do anything right and thus she continued to try to do the right thing over and over again, only to fail in her mother’s eyes. Her father washed himself daily with alcohol, in an attempt to drown in his sorrows. A man can never be “the man,” in a marriage to a Narcissist. He had to defend his wife to the children he loved. A man should not be disrespectful to his wife, even if she is to him. While Barbara desperately needed her father to be there for her, he couldn’t even though he wanted to. She knew this but learned to accept that he could never be the father she craved. Her husband couldn’t play that role either. When women leave the home searching for a partner, without first finding themselves, the man they are led to is their father and those same unmet needs.
Barbara escapes to this new world with a husband. Running away can provide distance and hope. She could make herself believe anything in a world she creates all her own. The truth is there and she wants to believe it is not but over time, not having a father or mother to turn to, in times of need, the pain slowly crawls up inside her. She can’t turn to her husband either, because he doesn’t know what to say to her or how to give her the love and nurturance she so desperately craves. He continues to disappoint her and eventually she tells him, until he is so sick of hearing it that the marriage becomes a wash and the fantasy of her story continues to be passed down to her daughter. A daughter who has no empathy because she just can’t understand the years, the generations of what went wrong in her gene pool.
Barbara has come to realize finally that she is all alone, the bitterness has swelled up inside of her womb, her breath wreaking of the bile that lingers in her throat, she becomes more and more cynical over time, as reality will just not go away.
When her father takes his own life, she is forced to see herself in the mirror for the first time. She wants to believe that she is now in charge yet once again she is reminded that as long as Violet has a breath to breathe, she has no power at all. Her world crashes around her but then she drives off in the end, left to deal with the pain. The result will be that she will go off into her new world, alone with her anger and tears and the madness of living on a daily basis; knowing that she created this mess herself.
“Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed.” Barbara, the angry daughter who has begun to see that her world will never change.
Unless of course, she enters into psychotherapy. Preferably with a therapist, who empathizes, too much, with the angry daughter.
***7/31/16 A good start to healing for Barbara would be a therapist and now this wonderful new CD The Child of the Narcissist: Guided Meditations for Healing.