Thursday 26 February 2015

The Sexually Assaulted Male

Sexual assault occurs when one person engages in sexual activity with another person, without the consent of the other individual. These acts can a be physical or verbal in nature.
Sexual assault can be perpetrated in various ways - it can involve strangers or people who know one another, individuals or groups of people. Positions of authority, blackmail, weapons, or drugs may be used to encourage the submission of the victim. In cases such as sexual harassment in the workplace, the victim is subjected to a hostile work environment with genderized standards and/or unwelcome sexual discourse.
It is important to remember that, no matter what the circumstances, sexual assault is never the fault or responsibility of the victim, no matter the gender.
Breaking Down Myths About Male Sexual Assault:
Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted by women.
Reality: Men are sexually assaulted by women (although most perpetrators of male sexual assault are men).
Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted by men.
Reality: Men are sexually assaulted by other men, regardless of sexual orientation.
Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.
Reality: Men ARE sexually assaulted. Men of any sexual orientation, size, appearance, or strength can be sexually assaulted.
Myth: Only gay men are sexually assaulted.
Reality: Heterosexual, bisexual, and gay men are equally likely to be sexually assaulted. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Myth: Only gay men sexually assault other men.
Reality: Most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as straight. Sexual assault is about anger, violence, and control, not necessarily about lust or sexual attraction.
Myth: Erections or ejaculation during a sexual assault means you consented to the assault, or "liked it."
Reality: Erection and ejaculation are physical responses to an assault (over which there is very little control), and these do not imply enjoyment or pleasure. However, these responses can confuse and manipulate a victim of sexual assault into the false believe that they did, in fact, consent to the experience. They did not.
How Common is Male Sexual Assault?
Rates of male sexual assault, similar to female sexual assault, are said to be grossly under-reported. In fact, it is believed that 10% of all sexual assault victims in the US are male (RAINN) and that 10-20% of all men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime ( This number includes boys who are sexually assaulted in childhood. For more information aboutpreventingdetecting, and responding to childhood sexual assault please see the resources linked here.
In recent years, perhaps due to economic decline, reports of sexual assault on males have increased.
Male Sexuality
The issue of male sexual assault is complicated by society’s beliefs about male sexuality. Many people may believe that it is impossible for a man to be sexually abused due to their size and strength. This is absolutely untrue.
There is also a myth that all men enjoy all sexual contact, thus making the victim “lucky” to have engaged in sexual activity. This myth is particularly damaging and false.
Males who have experienced sexual abuse can sometimes respond in a physical way - by becoming erect , which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame. It should be noted that a physical response to abuse does not, in any way, indicate acceptance or willingness to participate in sexual activity. It is merely a physiological response to a stimulus.
These responses do not mean that the sexual activity was not assault and cannot be prosecuted as such.
Effects of Sexual Assault:
Men and boys who have been abused may experience any, all, or none of the following, in response to their abuse:

  • Decreased self-esteem, self-confidence, or development of negative body image
  • Feelings of shame, anger, guilt, and self-blame
  • Difficulties trusting others, especially those who share the gender of their abuser
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Difficulties with intimacy
  • Self-destructive impulses
  • Confusion or questions about sexual identity and masculinity
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • These issues can be effectively addressed with therapy. Men may be particularly unwilling to undergo therapy, believing that they can tough it out. Many men identify with the stereotypical strong, quiet man and don’t wish to call attention to their abuse; however, support is essentialfor the recovery of any sexual abuse victim, and therapy should be encouraged.
    Certain medications may also be administered if the victim sufferers from disruptive mood disorders or trauma-related problems.
    Unique Issues Faced By Male Sexual Assault Survivors:
    Society wrongly denies that men get sexually assaulted. With the exception of a prison joke, most people don't even think about male sexual assault. When most people think of rape or sexual assault, they think of women. There's a stigma that "real men" can fight off any attacker or that men are immune to sexual assault - and the issue that most people think that men, due to the nature of erections, cannot be forced into sex. These stigmas allow for men to feel safe from sexual assault.
    Until it happens to them.
    It's really no wonder that men don't seek help or report sexual assault. The percentage of men who report sexual assault is less than 5% - because they feel shame, isolation, and like they're somehow "less of a man," if they admit to being sexually assaulted.
    For guys, the idea of being a victim is hard to accept. I mean, guys grow up believing they can defend themselves against ANYTHING. Dudes are supposed to believe that they can fight - TO THE DEATH - something like an unwanted sexual advance. Those masculine feelings are deeply rooted for most men - which can lead to guilt, shame and inadequacy for male sexual assault survivors.
    Lots of male sexual assault survivors question whether or not it WAS sexual assault. Maybe they wanted it! Maybe they deserved it! I mean, they did fail to defend themselves...right? Male sexual assault survivors often become disgusted with themselves for not fighting back. The feelings are normal of any rape survivor, but the thoughts are flawed. Men who've been assaulted were just doing the best they could to survive. There's NO shame in that.
    Thanks to the guilt and shame spiral, a lot of male survivors punish themselves for the assault by engaging in self-destructive behavior. Drug or alcohol use and abuse. Picking fights. Social isolation. This is why male sexual assault survivors are at a higher risk for depression, work problems, and drug or alcohol addiction.
    Sexual insecurities are common following a sexual assault are common. It may be hard to have sex or have a relationship with someone because any sexual contact may trigger a flashback. So if you've been the victim of male sexual assault, please just go easy on yourself and take some time to recover.
    When heterosexual men are assaulted, they may question their sexuality, as though the assault may have made him gay, especially if the perpetrator accused the victim of enjoying himself. Sexual assault, though, is about power, anger, and control - not about sexuality. A sexual assault cannot "make someone gay."
    Gay men who have been sexually assaulted may feel self-loathing and self-blame, as though their sexuality caused it. In fact, some sexual assaults ARE the result of gay-bashing, motivated by fear of homosexuals. Remember that NO ONE deserves to be sexually assaulted.
    What To Do If You've Been Assaulted:
    Men who have been sexually assaulted should first get to a safe place and then call a friend and/or the police for help. Victims should refrain from showering or otherwise destroying physical evidence that may help convict the offender.
    Remember, victims are not to blame for the assault.
    By raising awareness about the prevalence of male sexual assault, we have hope that more and more men will feel comfortable reaching out for the help they need and deserve after surviving sexual assault.
    Reclaiming Your Life:
    It's important for all male sexual assault survivors to remember that their feelings and reactions are both normal and temporary. Fear and confusion will lessen, but the trauma of a sexual assault may disrupt things awhile. Some feelings will happen out of the blue and are related to the sexual assault - you're not going crazy.
    It's hard to want to talk about your feelings - you probably just want to get over it and move on with your life. Eventually, you'll have to deal with those feelings to heal and gain control of your life again. So talk to a friend, a therapist, a hotline counselor - anyone you trust - to work through those feelings. It's a key part of reclaiming your life after a sexual assault.
    Remember - you won't be functioning 100% after the assault. It's normal to feel tired, forgetful or irritable - be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel how you feel.
    Tips for Taking Care of Yourself:
    Get some support. Find people who understand what you're feeling and those who love you just as you are. Don't isolate yourself.
    • Engage in some hard exercise or some relaxation techniques.
    • Talk about the assault - express your feelings. Doesn't have to be with everyone, just people you trust.
    • Get some counseling.
    • Remind yourself that you're safe now - no one can hurt you.
    • Let out some of your anger in safe, healthy ways like writing or reading.
    • Write a post for Band Back Together. Remember: you can be anonymous!
    How To Help Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted:
    • First, get your friend or family member some medical help.
    • Listen to him - don't judge him.
    • Let him stay with you or offer to stay with him.
    • Give some comfort.
    • Suggest that he get some professional help.
    • Don't offer quick-fix ideas for healing. They don't help.
    • Accept his choices for dealing with the sexual assault.
    • Get some counseling for yourself if you can't handle your own feelings.

    Find More HERE Band Back Together

    Tuesday 24 February 2015

    Characteristics of Abusers #DV #Abuse

    Characteristics of Abusers

    If the person you love or live with does these things, it’s time to get help:
    • Keeps track of what you are doing all the time and criticizes you for little things.
    • Constantly accuses you of being unfaithful.
    • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school.
    • Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs.
    • Controls all the money you spend.
    • Humiliates you in front of others.
    • Destroys your property or things that you care about.
    • Threatens to hurt you or the children or pets, or does cause hurt (by hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting).
    • Uses or threatens to use a weapon against you.
    • Forces you to have sex against your will.
    • Blames you for his/her violent outbursts.

    Characteristics of Abusers...Warning signs of potential violence:

    • Abuser pacing the floor
    • Clenching/unclenching fists
    • Facial expression (glaring)
    • Shouting/yelling
    Always be conscious of your own safety needs in all interactions involving an abusive person.  Do not meet privately with a violence-prone individual.  If you must do so, be sure someone is available close by in case you need help.

    Abusers frequently have the following characteristics:

    • Often blow up in anger at small incidents. He or she is often easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really very angry.
    • Are excessively jealous: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser may claim that jealousy is a sign of his or her love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love.
    • Like to isolate victim: He or she may try to cut you off from social supports, accusing the people who act as your support network of "causing trouble."
    • Have a poor self-image; are insecure.
    • Blame others for their own problems.
    • Blame others for their own feelings and are very manipulative. An abusive person will often say "you make me mad", "you’re hurting me by not doing what I ask", or "I can’t help being angry".
    • Often are alcohol or drug abusers.
    • May have a family history of violence.
    • May be cruel to animals and/or children. 
    • May have a fascination with weapons.
    • May think it is okay to solve conflicts with violence.
    • Often make threats of violence, breaking or striking objects.
    • Often use physical force during arguments.
    • Often use verbal threats such as, "I’ll slap your mouth off", "I’ll kill you", or "I’ll break your neck". Abusers may try to excuse this behaviour by saying, "everybody talks like that". 
    • May hold rigid stereotypical views of the roles of men and women. The abuser may see women as inferior to men, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.
    • Are very controlling of others.  Controlling behaviours often grow to the point where victims are not allowed to make personal decisions.
    • May act out instead of expressing themselves verbally.
    • May be quick to become involved in relationships.  Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together.
    • May have unrealistic expectations. The abuser may expect his or her partner to fulfill all his or her needs. The abusive person may say, “If you love me, I’m all you need- you’re all I need". 
    • May use "playful" force during sex, and/or may want to act out sexual fantasies in which the victim is helpless.  
    • May say things that are intentionally cruel and hurtful in order to degrade, humiliate, or run down the victim’s accomplishments.
    • Tend to be moody and unpredictable. They may be nice one minute and the next minute explosive. Explosiveness and mood swings are typical of men who beat their partners.
    • May have a history of battering: the abuser may admit to hitting others in the past, but will claim the victim “asked for” it.  An abuser will beat any woman he is with; situational circumstances do not make a person abusive.

    How dangerous is the abuser? Assessing lethality in an abuse situation:

    Some domestic violence is life threatening. All domestic violence is dangerous, but some abusers are more likely to kill than others and some are more likely to kill at specific times. The likelihood of homicide is greater when the following factors are present:
    1. Threats of homicide or suicide: The abuser may threaten to kill himself, the victim, the children, relatives, friends, or someone else;
    2. Plans for homicide or suicide: The more detailed the abuser’s plan and the more available the method, the greater the risk he will use deadly force;
    3. Weapons: The abuser possesses weapons, and has threatened to use them in the past against the victim, the children, or himself. If the abuser has a history of arson, fire should be considered a weapon;
    4. "Ownership" of the victim: The abuser says things like "If I can’t have you no one can" or "I would rather see you dead than have you divorce me". The abuser believes he is absolutely entitled to the obedience and loyalty of the victim;
    5. Centrality of victim to the abuser: The abuser idolizes the victim, depending heavily on him or her to organize and sustain the abuser’s life, or the abuser isolates the victim from outside supports;
    6. Separation violence: The abuser believes he is about to lose the victim;
    7. Repeated calls to law enforcement: A history of violence is indicated by repeated police involvement;
    8. Escalation of risk-taking: The abuser has begun to act without regard to legal or social consequences that previously constrained his violence; and
    9. Hostage taking: He is desperate enough to risk the life of innocent persons by taking hostages.  There is a very serious likelihood of the situation turning deadly.

    Battered and Abused Men:

    Most of us recognize that men experience verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of women, less well accepted or admitted is the fact of physical abuse. In our society, we think of women as the victims and men as the aggressors in physical abuse.  The fact that women are more likely to be severely injured in domestic violence adds to the problem of recognizing male abuse.  Nevertheless, it happens - frequently.  In fact, men are just as likely to be seriously injured when a woman becomes violent because women are more likely to use weapons in the course of an assault.  If a male client indicates that his girlfriend or partner assaulted him, believe him.  A man will find it harder to discuss his pain with you than will a woman, and even harder to admit to being a victim. It is easier to attribute an injury to a sports mishap or workplace accident than to admit to a doctor or police officer it resulted from domestic violence.


    1. Fewer men report abuse. They are ashamed to report being abused by women.
    2. Health care and law enforcement professionals are more likely to accept alternative explanations of abuse from a man. They will believe other reasons for the presence of bruises and other signs of injury.
    3. Our justice system often takes the word of the woman above the word of the man in abuse cases. It is just more believable that the aggressor was the man, not the woman.
    4. Men are more likely to tolerate the pain of abuse than women. They "grin and bear it” more. And again, many are ashamed to seek medical help for abuse.
    5. Unless a woman uses a weapon, she usually does not have the strength to inflict injury.
    Abused men are as likely as their female counterparts are to have low self-esteem.  People can come to believe that they are somehow responsible for what happened.  People cling to the hope that things will get better: that the woman he "loves" will quit when their relationship is better adjusted, or the children get older and show more responsibility.  These are all pretty much the same excuses women make for remaining with men who batter them.

    Are you abused?  Does the person you love…

    • "Track" all of your time?
    • Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful?
    • Discourage your relationships with family and friends?
    • Prevent you from working or attending school?
    • Criticize you for little things?
    • Become angry easily when drinking or abusing drugs?
    • Control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
    • Humiliate you in front of others?
    • Destroy your personal property or items with sentimental value?
    • Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children?
    • Use or threaten to use a weapon against you?
    • Threaten to hurt you or hurt the children?
    • Force you to have sex against your will?

    Below is a list of things Jerry can do to help himself:

    • Tell friends he trusts.
    • Make safety arrangements such as:
      • Leaving the relationship;
      • Finding a safe place to go; and
      • Changing his phone number and/or locks.
    • Telephone a domestic violence hotline or shelter and:
      • Talk to a worker;
      • Find out about his legal rights; or
      • See a counsellor - separately or with Lisa. 
    • Gain the support of witnesses, when possible.
    • Take notes detailing dates, times and what occurred.
    • Phone Police when Lisa becomes physically abusive.

    Abuse Checklists:

    Below is a self-assessment quiz to help you determine if you are being abused. You may be suffering abuse even if you answer, “Yes” to only a few questions.

    You may be becoming or already are a victim of abuse if you:

    • Feel like you have to "walk on eggshells" to keep him/her from getting angry and are frightened by his/her temper.
    • Feel you can't live without him/her.
    • Stop seeing other friends or family, or give up activities you enjoy because he/she doesn't like them.
    • Are afraid to tell him/her your worries and feelings about the relationship.
    • Are often compliant because you are afraid to hurt his/her feelings; and have the urge to "rescue" him/her when he/she is troubled.
    • Feel that you are the only one who can help him/her and that you should try to "reform" him/her.
    • Find yourself apologizing to yourself or others for your partner's behaviour when you are treated badly.
    • Stop expressing opinions if he/she doesn't agree with them.
    • Stay because you feel he/she will kill him/herself if you leave.
    • Believe that his/her jealousy is a sign of love.
    • Have been kicked, hit, shoved, or had things thrown at you by him/her when he/she was jealous or angry.
    • Believe the critical things he/she says to make you feel bad about yourself.
    • Believe that there is something wrong with you if you don't enjoy the sexual things he/she makes you do.
    • Believe in the traditional ideas of what a man and a woman should be and do -- that the man makes the decisions and the woman pleases him.
    Original HERE

    Thursday 19 February 2015

    The Survivors Trust @survivorstrust

    What is TST?

    The Survivors Trust (TST) is a national umbrella agency for over 135 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse support organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.
    Our Trustee Board is exclusively made up of Managers and Directors of rape and sexual abuse support services. Our core aim is to empower survivors or rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse through supporting and improving effective responses to survivors. Member organisations provide a range of direct services to survivors including counselling, support, helplines and advocacy services for women, men and children.
    We provide support and networking for member agencies; deliver accredited training; raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse and its effect on survivors, their supporters and society at large; promote effective responses to rape and sexual abuse on a local, regional and national level.
    TST supports working in ways that recognise human rights and dignity; demonstrate understanding of the role of gender in the impact of sexual violence and abuse on women and men; appreciate the variety of human experience and culture; demonstrate a commitment to showing justice in dealing with all others; and encourage development and improvement of responses to all survivors.

    The TST Mission Statement…

    We believe that the rape and sexual violence of children and adults is endemic within our society. Together we are committed to empowering survivors and their supporters to work through and beyond the experience of abuse.

    The TST Core Belief…

    We believe that the sexual abuse and/or rape of girls, boys, women and men is preventable and we challenge society to acknowledge both its reality and our individual and collective responsibility for it.

    The TST Core Aims…

    To support and empower survivors of rape, sexual violence and/or childhood sexual abuse through
    • Providing a collective voice and peer networking for members;
    • Raising awareness about sexual abuse and/or rape and its effects on survivors, their supporters and society at large
    • Informing acknowledgement of, and effective responses to, rape and sexual abuse on a local, regional and 
    • national level


    This page offers information for survivors of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.
    Please note that a full list of  TST member agencies can be found here along with details of  National Helplines for Survivors here.
    A list of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors working in England and Wales can be found by clicking here
    Details of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) can be found by clicking here
    Further information on resources and reading materials available for survivors of rape or sexual abuse can be found or our Resources page or by clicking here.

    The impact of childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence and rape

    The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence and rape can include many emotional, psychological and physical conditions. The experience of sexual assault or abuse at any age and whether male or female can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s being and life – on their mind, their body, their behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
    The following list includes some of the effects now being recognised and acknowledged as the consequences of childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence or rape on many victims and survivors. The Survivors Trust wants to stress that it is not inevitable that all victims will suffer from all effects – the mix, severity and complexity is a unique experience for each individual.

    Post Traumatic Stress symptoms

    Irritability and outbursts of anger
    Suicidal Thoughts
    Alcohol Misuse and dependence
    Sexual problems
    Confusion about sexuality

    Eating Disorders

    Self-injury and self harming behaviour
    Transient psychotic episodes
    Borderline Personality Disorder
    Dissociative Identity disorder
    Somatisation – Emotional distress experienced as physical pain
    Increased rates of physical conditions like heart disease and cancer


    Criminal behaviour (including for a small minority sexual offences)
    Low self-esteem
    Lack of confidence
    Sleep Problems
    Parenting Problems
    Relationship Problems
    If you are a victim or survivor of sexual violence, rape or childhood sexual abuse, the thought that you may be affected in any of the above ways may be frightening and daunting. Member groups of The Survivors Trust have the professional expertise and empathic understanding necessary to help survivors meet the challenges and difficulties they are experiencing as a result of abuse or rape.
    Remember you have a right to be safe and to choose what happens to you. The Survivors Trust is determined to ensure that all survivors have access to appropriate counselling, support and advice so that they can reclaim their lives and obtain the justice they deserve.
    Please see our Find Support page for details of TST support groups and services near you, or click here for information and contact details for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs). Additionally, details of  Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) based in the UK can be found here.

    Sunday 15 February 2015

    Relationship Health Checks

    Making the decision to take that step and ask for help with your relationship can be daunting. Finally admitting that things are not working can be quite confronting and difficult to process.
    Feeling unsure about when you have reached the point to seek help is normal and quite common.
    Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when considering couples counselling. If you answer ‘no’ to three or more questions, you would find significant benefits in engaging in relationship counselling.
    10 Questions to ask yourself when considering relationship counselling
    1. Do you and your partner communicate well?
    2. Do you feel you and your partner resolve issues that come up?
    3. Do you feel that you and your partner are working towards the same goals/vision?
    4. Are you happy with the level of intimacy in the relationship?
    5. Do you feel you and your partner are on the same page with parenting?
    6. Do you know what things make your partner feel loved and cared about?
    7. Do you think your partner knows what things to do in order for you to feel loved and cared about?
    8. Do you feel emotionally supported by your partner?
    9. Do you regularly spend quality time with your partner?
    10. Are you happy in your relationship?

    Saturday 14 February 2015

    10 Herbs for Anxiety

    1. Ginger

    Ginger is a root that you can start using in a number of ways to help with your anxiety. You can brew up ginger tea, which basically consists of putting pieces of ginger root in a hot cup of water. You can add ginger to your cooking as well, as it calms the stomach and is said to increase the amount of energy your digestive system uses. Ginger also has a cleansing effect on the body, so you can help rid yourself of certain wastes which will help you feel better overall. Ginger can have side effects, which is why you’ll want to check with your doctor before taking larger amounts of it.

    2. Jojoba

    You’ll often see jojoba added to bath and body products because of its soothing effect. What we’re most interested here is the way that jojoba makes the skin feel, as this can play a big part in how you feel all over, and can help you relax during times of excessive stress and feelings of anxiety. There aren’t many side effects when it comes to using jojoba, but you’ll still want to run it past your doctor to get the all clear before you start using it in earnest. Most of the time you won’t be using it directly, it will be mixed in with other herbs and oils as part of a product.

    3. Ginkgo Biloba

    This is one of the more popular all-natural anti-anxiety remedies, so perhaps you’ve heard about it. Ginkgo Biloba has many different uses, and is said to help with everything from improving mental focus and acuity to glaucoma. When you consider that anxiety is mental condition, it becomes clear that taking a supplement to help the functioning of the brain is a good idea. A healthy brain should not be anxious, and should have mechanisms in place to deal with excessive anxiety in a healthy way. Taking gingko biloba as part of a comprehensive approach to treating your anxiety may be a good idea, but be sure to ask your doctor first.

    4. Valerian Root

    This herb works best at helping you get to sleep when your mind is racing and you feel a sense of panic when you’re just trying to get rest. Getting proper sleep is paramount when you’re dealing with feeling of anxiety. Sleep is your brain’s chance to rest and restore itself without your conscious mind getting in the way. The irony is that your conscious mind tries to come up with a bunch of what if situations right when you’re trying to go to sleep. Help calm your mind and trigger natural sleep responses from the brain with valerian root.

    5. Bergamot

    Bergamot comes from the bergamot orange and comes out as an oil which can be used for aromatherapy to help reduce stress. This is a remedy that is used during radiation treatment, and it has been noted that it also works for those not undergoing that treatment, but also in need of an anti-anxiety solution. This is a very natural remedy and it is often added to foods without any known side effects, but you’ll want to be careful when using it in stronger concentrations or with greater frequency. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor if they think it’s okay for you to start supplementing with any knew herb or oil.

    6. Chamomile

    Chamomile has long been used to help calm the mind and relax the body, and it is often used as a tea. Rather than just being a folk remedy, scientific studies have actually backed up its effectiveness, and there are not clinical trials that have shown it really does work. This is good news for those that want a non-prescription way to help treat anxiety. Keep in mind that using chamomile alone might not be enough to treat severe cases of anxiety, such as panic attacks or associated conditions like clinical depression, but they can play their part in a more comprehensive approach.

    7. St. John’s Wort

    You may have heard the buzz about St. John’s Wort several years back as it became mainstream popular as a natural way to help treat depression. The benefits it provides may also help to treat anxiety, but studies being conducted into this area have not been able to provide conclusive evidence that it works. However, many users report greater feelings of ease and well being after taking it, and this has been the case for several hundred years now. It’s something you should consult with your doctor on, as they’ll be able to recommend a dosage that’s right for you if they think it’s something you should try.

    8. Lavender

    Help your body unwind and relax with the soothing properties of lavender. You can make a tea out of it, or use the essential oil for aromatherapy either by warming it up or adding it to your bath. A relaxed body often results in a relaxed mind, and this can be a big help when trying to calm yourself down. You can use this as a daily ritual, or save it for times when you are especially stressed out and feeling strong levels of anxiety. Some also use this to help with insomnia, so taking a bath with lavender in it before bed can really help you get a good night’s sleep, which can work wonders on anxiety.

    9. Eucalyptus

    You can use all natural eucalyptus to help with your feelings of stress and anxiety. Many users have reported intense feelings of relaxation after using it. The oil is extracted from the eucalyptus plant, and can be used in several different forms including a spray or made into a tea. The trick to using all-natural products like these is to make sure that you are getting to the problem early. It’s much easier to diffuse anxiety before it creeps up than to try to treat a full blown anxiety attack using herbs and other natural remedies, as they take time to have their effect on the body and senses.

    10. Meadow Sweet

    If you’ve been experiencing headaches due to the amount of stress and anxiety you’ve been experiencing, meadow sweet might be just the tool for you to use for relief. This is another herb that makes a great relaxing tea that you can sip on whenever you feel the first tingle of a headache, or even before then, when you recognize a trigger that sends you into an anxious state. There are a few contraindications with meadow sweet, so be sure to get your doctor’s approval before you begin taking it. Namely, if you have an aspirin sensitivity you may want to avoid using this.

    Friday 13 February 2015

    Passive Aggressive Behaviour

    Origins of the term

    The term 'passive aggressive' apparently first originated at the end of World War II, when a Colonel from the U.S War Department used it to describe the 'immature' and 'difficult' behaviour of some of the young soldiers. These soldiers would become intentionally unresponsive and carry out tasks they didn't want to do sluggishly or ineffectively. They did this in order to preserve an element of independence in an incredibly uniform environment.
    Passive aggressive disorder was once a widely accepted form of personality disorder (personality disorder: A mental health problem characterised by long-term, deeply ingrained behavioural patterns which significantly affect how a person thinks, feels and interacts. having a personality disorder can make socialising difficult and prevent a person from forming stable, long-lasting relationships with anyone.) and it was even included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM IV), the globally recognised catalogue of all medically accepted disorders. 
    A number of years ago, experts decided that passive aggression was so common and so strongly related to a host of other mental disorders, that it didn't warrant the status of 'disorder' by itself. Passive aggressive disorder has since been edited out of the DSM and is now commonly referred to as passive aggressivebehaviour instead. Most of us are guilty of displaying passive aggressive behaviour occasionally in our day-to-day lives. It is, after all, a simple way of avoiding conflict.
    Observe the following situation: Your housemate persistently leaves his dirty washing up in the sink for other people to clean up. There are four different ways to approach the situation:
    Option 1. Ignore it, do nothing and hope he stops.
    Option 2. Talk to him about it, let him know you don't like it.
    Option 3. Shout at him, threaten him with eviction and generally intimidate him into doing it.
    Option 4. 'Accidentally' break his favourite mug. If he cares that much about it, he should wash it up and put it away. 
    The option you choose will differ according to the kind of person you are.
    1. The 'passive person' off-hands powers to others, steps back and allows him or herself to be directed by other, more assertive people. Option 1. is a good example of passive behaviour. If you choose this option, your housemate is unlikely to ever change his habits because he has no idea how you feel about the situation. You will simply have to learn to live with his dirty crockery.
    2. The 'assertive person' maintains a good balance between understanding his or her own needs, and accommodating the needs of others. Option 2. is a good example of a fair, assertive and effective approach to the situation. If you are firm and fair, your housemate will be more likely to listen to you, respect you and make the effort to change his habits.
    3. The 'aggressive person' is power hungry and ego-centric. He or she has little or no regard for other people's desires or opinions and wishes to meet goals forcedly, regardless of any hurt feelings. Option 3. is a good example of aggressive behaviour- if you adopt this approach you will be likely to get what you want, but you will also jeopardise the relationship you have with your housemate, as well as putting yourself at risk of future retribution. 
    So where does passive aggressive behaviour come on the scale? Don't be distracted by the 'passive' element of this term. Passive aggression is more often than not, even more destructive than plain old aggression. Sometimes a quick, impulsive punch on the arm can be more easily forgiven than twenty years of quietly brewing resentment.

    How does passive aggressive behaviour develop?

    What makes different people act differently in certain situations? Why do some of us choose to ignore or avoid situations and others choose to tackle them head on? Experts believe that the route of our behaviour rests in the lessons we learned naturally during childhood. 
    One study discovered that people who had parents who were more controlling were more likely to become closed-off, withdrawn and cold in their adult relationships.
    The study1 consisted of 56 couples who had been together for at least 2 months. Each person was asked questions about their childhood, such as how often they got into trouble for carelessness, how often they broke their parents' rules and how sensitive they were to rejection, failure and embarrassment. Researchers used the answers to these questions to identify the more 'cautious' among the participants. All couples were then asked to keep a diary detailing any relationship problems, arguments, thoughts, moods and actions. Upon inspection, the researchers found that the participants identified as more cautious were also more likely to deal with relationship issues by closing off, giving 'the silent treatment' and withdrawing from the problem at hand - making them, to all intents and purposes, passive aggressive people.

    Controlling parents

    Children can often be demanding, inquisitive and excitable. For extremely busy, stressed, or distracted parents, coming home to an excitable or emotional child can be very wearing. Often it can be easier to ignore persistent demands and questions, and even easier to shout at them to be quiet, or to send them to their room out of the way. Some parents believe enforcing strict rules aides development and creates a more resilient, rounded and disciplined person.
    From a child's point of view, outside stresses, anxieties and parenting principals are irrelevant. A child has no idea if his father's bosses are piling on the pressure, or if the debts are mounting up and the bills can't be paid. To a child, a parents' anger is direct, personal and indicative of some sort of failure or disappointment. Children generally crave the approval of their parents. In a child's world, the parental figures are all-knowing, all-seeing authority figures- the literal be-all and end-all of life. To be put down, ignored or shouted at consistently can often be a very traumatic experience for a child.

    Repression instead of expression

    Eventually, the child begins to believe that what they have to say must be worthless and irrelevant, so they stop saying it. When their emotions are met with anger (parents often say 'don't answer back', or 'don't be cheeky' when their children stand up to them), they learn to bottle them up. As children grow into adults, these lessons stay with them. They may learn to fear speaking out in case their words are met with rejection or conflict, and they will eventually adopt the lesser role their parents (usually unintentionally) enforced. Essentially, passive aggressive behaviour stems from trying, and failing (in our eyes), to please our parents.

    Secretive behaviour

    Of course, hiding our desires and opinions won't simply make them go away. Instead, we will naturally learn different, non-verbal and indirect ways of channelling how we really feel about things. This repression can be quite damaging and will often create a more introverted, secretive character who is more likely to lie, manipulate people, or 'act out' the person they think they should be. For example, an adolescent who isn't allowed to go out for lunch with her friends might sneak the money from her father's wallet and tell him she's doing homework at a friend's house.

    Resentful feelings

    This dishonesty and secretiveness is bound to make a child feel guilty. After all - we still want to please our parents. We've simply learned that the easiest way to keep them happy is to appear docile and accommodating, while simultaneously finding covert ways of acting out desires and expressing emotions. Eventually, we begin to resent having to be so secretive. These feelings of resentment tend to stay with us throughout adulthood and manifest as a resentment for all authority figures, who we can't help but associate with all the times our ideas, jokes, opinions and desires were ignored or criticised.  

    Types of passive aggressive behaviour

    Passive aggressive behaviour can vary in severity, frequency and intentionality.
    When a person with a passive aggressive personality is given a task to do that they don't agree with, they will appear positive and agreeable, but inside they may be fuming or despairing. Instead of making a fuss, they will find other ways to vent their frustration. These include:

    Intentional ineffectiveness

    Imagine you are given a task by your boss that you sincerely disagree with. He has backed you into a corner and you can see no way to argue without jeopardising your job or your working relationship. So, you intentionally approach the task with laziness. You make subtle mistakes that are noticeable enough to aggravate your boss, but not severe enough to warrant punishment. This gives you a sense of power and satisfaction in an otherwise powerless situation and is essentially an underhand way of implying that you didn't care for the task he asked you to do.

    Intentional lateness and forgetfulness

    If you are a passive aggressive person, you may have learnt from an early age that going head to head with a controlling person is a recipe for failure. Unless you happen to be very effective at communicating, persuading and gaining the approval of others, you will have had to have found other ways of stating your power over controlling people. One passive aggressive technique is to exaggerate the characteristics you know they find irritating. Controlling people tend to be neat, proactive and organised. One way of demanding their attention is to be intentionally messy, forgetful and unorganised. For instance, if a particularly domineering friend invites you to the cinema at a certain time, and insists on reminding you again and again to turn up on time, you're likely to feel like you're being backed into that old corner you are so familiar with. One way to exercise your own control over the situation is to turn up five minutes late. Although the domineering friend will see this as a blatant disregard of her carefully made plans, a passive aggressive person will see it as a small victory.


    Instead of putting up a fight or arguing back, a passive aggressive person is likely to become sullen, cold and withdrawn. For instance, imagine you noticed that your partner gave someone at a party a long appreciative look. Instead of confronting your partner, you feel deeply jealous and sad and show this by closing off emotionally. Your partner has no idea why you have suddenly become so rigid and unresponsive, which in turn causes them to feel defensive and tense. This kind of behaviour can very easily spiral into a long-term standoff that brews and festers and grows into something far more destructive than it ever should have been. 

    Signs you have a passive aggressive personality

    Passive aggressive behaviour is triggered by a desire to please people and can include reasons such as:
    • trying to keep the peace
    • trying to avoid mistakes
    • trying to preserve self-respect
    • trying to appear more confident and authoritative
    • being unable to express emotions very well
    • being afraid of rejection
    • being afraid of criticism
    • feeling worthless.
    However, because by nature passive aggressive people are unwilling to expose their true feelings, it can be hard to understand the routes of their behaviour. These behaviours often come across instead as:
    • stubbornness
    • contrariness
    • bitterness
    • closed-mindedness
    • unreasonableness
    • being difficult
    • frustratingly forgetful
    • cold
    • lazy
    • careless
    • manipulative
    • secretive
    • sly.

    How to deal with passive aggression

    Do you recognise any of these passive aggressive personality traits in yourself or other people? If so, you might be wondering how to deal with them. There is no 'one way' of dealing with passive aggression because tactics vary from person to person and situation to situation. The following advice is only general and you are strongly advised to contact a counsellor or psychotherapist for professional support.  

    Passive aggressive partners

    Being in a romantic relationship with a passive aggressive person can be very difficult. Loving relationships require honesty, openness and trust to work in the long-term. These are all characteristics that many passive aggressive people struggle with. In relationships, people with passive aggressive personalities tend to be:
    • unreasonably scared of rejection or abandonment
    • cold, defensive and unresponsive
    • secretive and withholding
    • mistrustful and suspicious
    • grumpy, on edge and easily aggravated.
    As we now know, these behaviours are indicative of underlying insecurities and fears that can't be expressed properly. Dealing with this kind of behaviour takes a lot of understanding and patience and can be very tiring for a romantic partner. There is no one way to deal with passive aggressive people because everyone is different and every different situation requires a different approach. Passive aggression is not like a disease, there is no one 'cure'.
    If you suspect that your partner is a passive aggressive person, however, the first thing you are advised to do is learn what passive aggression is. Once you understand the reasons for your partner's difficult behaviour, you can approach the issues sympathetically rather than forcefully or vindictively.
    It may help to consider the following general advice:
    • Don't feel like your partner's behaviour is a personal attack on you - remember that passive aggressive people often fear rejection. Your partner may love you dearly but remain distant due to an anxiety that you will leave them.
    • Be patient - anger or aggression will only force your partner further into his or her shell.
    • Don't be overbearing - remember that passive aggressive people are often resentful of authority. Show them that you respect their opinions and ideas and eventually they will learn to believe that they are truly valued by you. 
    • Let them simmer - if your partner kicks off over a seemingly small matter, accept that their frustration probably has nothing to do with the matter at all. Wait until your partner has calmed down and then try to approach the real problem face on.
    • Talk about it - be frank, be open and be blunt. Passive aggressive behaviour is usually reinforced by parents who punished extroverted behaviour, or who kept their own emotions bottled up. Your partner may find your honest attitude refreshing and liberating. If you can try to understand and tackle passive aggression together, your relationship can only become stronger.

    Passive aggressive colleagues

    Passive aggressive behaviour in the workplace can be extremely destructive for productivity and general morale. Managing an individual with passive aggressive tendencies can be a huge and often frustrating challenge for any team leader or manager, for the fundamental reason that passive aggressive personality types tend to resent authority.
    Many people become passive aggressive because they were put down or suppressed as children. This sense of resentment stays with them throughout adulthood because they find it difficult to shake the deeply embedded connection between authority and those old feelings of worthlessness.
    How to recognise a passive aggressive employee:
    • feels under-appreciated
    • lacks accountability, places blame on others
    • procrastinates or misses deadlines when they don't agree with a task
    • appears grumpy or irritable but won't say why
    • uses notes or emails to communicate in difficult situations.
    How to deal with a passive aggressive employee:
    • understand that they are wary of conflict
    • understand that they have learnt to feel inferior
    • set out clear expectations and boundaries from the offset so they understand that their inferior role is not a personal attack but a professional requirement
    • reward good work
    • show appreciation and let them know they are valued
    • try to give them an element of choice and control in the work they do
    • have regular meetings to give them a chance to open up and discuss things they may have been bottling up. 

    How to become less passive aggressive

    Remember that passive aggression is not a disorder. Most of us display passive aggressive behaviour now and then, it is simply one of the many ways we learn to deal with conflict. In some situations it is appropriate to keep emotions and opinions bottled up- if we were all outgoing, aggressive personality types, nothing would ever get done. Whether you think you are passive aggressive or not, the most important thing is that you remain awareof your behaviour, you identify the reasons behind it and you explore acceptable and effective ways of expressing it.
    Next time you feel secretly outraged or frustrated, take a moment to ask yourself why. Once you understand exactly what you find so irritating or unfair about a situation, you can begin to form a reasonable answer in your head. From here, you can start exploring different ways of addressing the situation.
    If, for example, the problem is that you noticed your partner spending a lot of time texting an unknown number that you suspect to be an ex, you need to consider your options. You may be tempted to brew moodily in the corner for the next few weeks, or you may even feel the need to send your own ex a message in retaliation. This kind of behaviour will only cause more problems. The only way you are going to get to the bottom of the situation is to breech the subject with your partner. Remember:
    • Tackle it casually - it is easy to sound accusing if you have spent time imagining the worst.
    • Be honest, tell them you are worried they will leave you. This lack of trust needs to be addressed, whether it's your own unreasonable doubt or their track history.
    • If they are texting their ex, ask them why and tell them you don't think it is acceptable behaviour.
    Forcing yourself to be frank, honest, sympathetic and tactful is always going to reap healthier rewards than being cold, defensive and vindictive. More often than not, other people will have no idea why you are upset about something. They are likely to think you are a difficult person to be around and find it hard to warm to you. This can be very upsetting and many passive aggressive people aim to change the way they interact with other people.
    Changing such deeply embedded behaviours can often be extremely difficult, especially if they were picked up during childhood. Seeking professional help from a counsellor or psychotherapist is recommended, especially if your passive aggressive behaviour is affecting your career, relationships or family life.

    Counselling for passive aggressive behaviour

    Counselling for passive aggressive behaviour can often be an extremely delicate process. This is because people who display this form of behaviour do not react well to being ordered to think in a certain way or reveal certain details about themselves. Remember, passive aggressive people often spend their whole lives denying or repressing their true feelings and opinions. Often, they will go out of their way to expose the source of authority as ineffective or incompetent.
    Some counsellors and psychotherapists believe that in order to tackle our behaviours, we must revisit our childhoods. We must learn how we became the people we are today and identify the events that triggered certain insecurities, fears and anxieties. Once we understand these, we can start to let them go and accept that the relationships we had with our parents do not have to set the groundwork for all future relationships.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy allows clients to observe their own thoughts moment by moment in order to recognise the thought patterns which trigger certain behaviours.


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