Interview w/ Laura Taylor on Intimate Partner Violence
I invited my colleague Laura Taylor a psychotherapist who currently works with male clients to weigh in on intimate partner violence. We host events for victims of narcissistic abuse to better help them understand trauma cycles and to explore paths to recovery.
Jordan: Intimate Partner Violence was a term coined at the turn of the century, a few years after the Trial of the Century. Why have we broadened the scope of what constitutes this relational abuse?
Laura: Firstly, I'd like to discuss the differences between Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). DV can occur between a parent and child, siblings, or even roommates. Intimate Partner Violence can only occur between romantic partners who may, or may not, be living together in the same household.
Intimate partner violence is domestic violence by a current or former spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. IPV can take a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse. Previous references to "domestic violence" referred simply to verifiable physical acts of violence, which left out known traumatizing non-physical aspects of violence between partners.
While physical abuse between partners can leave visible marks and bruises, the harder-to-evaluate emotional wounds left by other forms of abuse have long-lasting implications in the lives of those who have been victimized.
Jordan: Do you think Dr. Curry's diagnosis of borderline and histrionic personality disorder makes sense from what you have gleaned from the case?
Laura: WIth all due respect to Dr. Curry, while the Borderline and Histrionic Personality certainly covers some clear aspects of Ms. Heard's personality, from my vantage point there seems to be a large missing piece of her personality puzzle. While I certainly have no access to a personal interface in order to assess Ms. Heard, my lived personal and professional experience leave me wondering how at least narcissistic personality traits, if not Narcissistic Personality Disorder, were not attributed to her.
Below are the signs and symptoms of narcissism:
Grandiosity. Exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Excessive need for admiration.
Superficial and exploitative relationships.
Lack of empathy.
Difficulty with attachment and dependency.
Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom.
Vulnerability to life transitions.
Jordan: What about the defendant’s expert witness who argued in favor of PTSD?
Laura: I want to start with an overview of what people suffering from PTSD may experience:
Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation
Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust
Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness
Sleep: insomnia or nightmares
Also common: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts, negative effects on career or educational
While Ms. Heard has reported she suffers from some of the above symptoms, her apparent propensity for lies, manipulation, and no self-reflection nor responsibility, leaves me wondering if this claim was just another part of her self-serving "act" as a defense in this case.
Jordan: What is different about a woman who exhibits narcissistic traits vs. a man?
Laura: Individuals with narcissistic traits compensate for their deep-rooted insecurities with a compensatory belief that they are special. Males tend to act overly self-confident and arrogant. Females tend to gain their poise from comparing their superiority over others. They feel good about themselves when others are seen as beneath their own standards of excellence.
While men with narcissistic traits tend to be more outwardly recognizable, females do exist. They tend to be more manipulated socially and can be just as vindictive as men with narcissistic traits. Women tend to play the victim, be overly jealous and competitive, superficial, and overbearing in their relationships with partners, co-workers, in friendships, and as parents and/or in-laws.
A common misconception is female narcissists are not as violent or emotionally abusive as males. Often, male victims may not speak up about being abused because of feelings of shame. Similarly, some people believe female narcissists are nicer than male ones. But while both genders can appear nice and helpful in front of others, they tend to abuse their victims behind closed doors. Female narcissists are just as rageful, contemptuous, and bullying as their male counterparts.
Laura M Taylor, LMFT Vulnerable Living