Lovefraud Continuing Education

Video: Dr. Karin Huffer on dealing with a coercive controller in court

You’ve been traumatized, and now you must face the person who traumatized you in court. Whether the case is divorce, child custody or some other litigation, you know that your opponent’s objective isn’t just to win the case. Your opponent will attempt to use legal procedures and the courts to crush you. How can you protect yourself?

Surviving Court When You’re Traumatized

Part 1: How to protect yourself when you’re facing a coercive controller
Monday, October 17, 2016 • 8-9 pm EDT • $25

Part 2: How the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can support you
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 • 8-9 pm EDT • $25

Invisible Intimate Partner Abuse and How to Manage Coercive Control in Court

By Dr. Karin Huffer – editor Wilene Gremain

Woman-in-depression-300x200In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here’s a composite story drawn from my cases:

I was a successful college educated thirty-something when I finally met my soul mate on a cruise ship to Alaska. Independent thinker, educated, ecology minded, career oriented, honest, he was almost the mirror image of myself as far as these qualities, two of a kind. We had it all. I was incredibly happy. Anything … we would do anything to show the love and respect we felt for each other. “Marry Me?” “You Bet!”

After almost one year of marriage and closing in on our first Christmas together, I was at full throttle to make the best ever Christmas for us. I remember. It was nothing … nothing … I couldn’t find my car keys as I was leaving the house. While plowing through my purse, I realized my wallet was almost empty. Robbed, that’s what I thought. I’d been robbed.

Beliefs that make lesbians vulnerable to exploitative partners

women arguingBy Amber Ault, Ph.D.

Like women in heterosexual relationships, women who date other women face the risk of entanglements with toxic partners. This is sometimes surprising both to straight and LGBTQ people who may assume that relationships between two women partners are somehow “naturally” peaceful and nurturing.

Indeed, sometimes women in disappointing relationships with men contemplate dating women instead because they assume same-sex relationships would be devoid of the exploitation that can happen in cross-sex relationships.

What are the assumptions that make women who date women vulnerable to toxic relationships? Here are a few:

Erroneous Belief #1. All narcissists and psychopaths are male.

While most narcissists and psychopaths in the public eye are male, both men and women across sexual identity categories display antisocial and narcissistic traits. Over-romanticizing women by trusting that women don’t have the behaviors and attitudes that define psychopaths or narcissistic personality disorder leaves women who date women vulnerable to becoming entangled with partners who take advantage of them.

7 Social Science Insights that Will Help You Understand Why It’s Not So Easy to “Just Get the Hell Out”

Amber AultBy Amber Ault, Ph.D.

One of the many difficult questions survivors of toxic relationships ask themselves is “why is it so hard to leave someone who treats me so badly?” As rational people, we recognize that a relationship is extremely problematic and believe that the rational course of action would be just to stop the drama.

And yet.

And yet, this is usually harder than it sounds.

While there are practical and logistical barriers to people exiting, the emotional resistance to leaving is usually present even when there aren’t kids or property or business deals or divorce laws slowing us down.

What accounts for this? Why is it so common?

Help for Overcoming the Trauma of Facing the Abuser in Court

Woman in courtAfter suffering the trauma of domestic violence, many victims are terrified to face their abusers in court. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can offer support, so in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Lovefraud Continuing Education presents the online course, “Surviving Court When You’re Traumatized” on Oct. 17 and 25, 2016.

Domestic violence victims often suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, explains Dr. Karin Huffer, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of the course. When victims must appear in court with the abuser for divorce, child custody or other legal matters, their symptoms may make it impossible for them to respond appropriately and participate fully.

“If the courts fail to supply an unbiased forum and equitable protection, the victim may end up with Legal Abuse Syndrome — an additional injury that is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Huffer says.

Leaving abusive relationships is especially hard for people in minority communities

Amber AultBy Amber Ault, Ph.D., MSW

Partners in abusive relationships — with psychopaths, narcissists, and other disordered individuals — often suffer in silence. This is especially true in marginalized communities.

Partners’ silence reinforces their isolation and reduces their capacity to end abuse and exploitation in these relationships.

What stops a partner from seeking help? Among the barriers to reaching out for a reality check — and support for leaving — are these common factors:

Shame. Partners worry that their association with a toxic person reflects poorly on them, and that others will judge them if they know about the abuse they are tolerating. If they’ve left and returned, the shame feels greater. Partners also often want to protect the “good reputation” of their toxic mate or the status the couple enjoys within a family or community. If friends or family opposed coupling with the toxic person, the partner faces the shame of acknowledging the decision to ignore good advice, and feels unworthy of support now.

Leaving abusive relationships is especially hard for lesbians — what therapists need to know

Due to shame, fear and hopelessness, anyone caught in an abusive relationship finds it difficult to leave. But for lesbians, who already feel stigmatized, the barriers to seeking help are even greater.

“Therapists may hold stereotypes that intimate partner violence doesn’t occur in same-sex relationships between women, or that in the absence of physical violence, same-sex relationships do not include cycles of abuse,” says Dr. Amber Ault, a clinical sociologist and psychotherapist based in Madison, Wisconsin. “Women in same-sex relationships often hold the same beliefs.”

Plus, lesbians often worry about protecting the reputation of their community — calling attention to dysfunction or violence may reinforce negative stereotypes. They fear that the legal system, dominated by majority groups, will not protect them. They’re afraid to alienate friends, family and community members, resulting in more isolation and danger than if they had remained silent.

Helping children overcome genetic risk for externalizing disorders


Liane_SSSP_crop copyBy Liane J. Leedom, M.D.

Imagine loving someone, having children with that person, and then realizing that you’ve gotten yourself involved in an abusive relationship.

Imagine suspecting that your partner, the mother or father of your children, has a personality disorder — and then hearing that personality disorders are highly genetic.

If you’re a therapist, imagine this person is your client. What do you do?

I believe we can and should intervene in the lives of children who are at risk of developing externalizing disorders, such as ADHD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and substance use disorders. If we do, we may be able to prevent these children from developing personality disorders as adults.

When we study large numbers of people affected by externalizing disorders, and personality disorders in particular, we see that about 50 percent of the risk for these disorders is genetic. That means the environment children grow up in, including their interactions with parents, siblings and peers, also strongly influences the development of disorder.

What teachers need to know about sociopaths and abusive dating

The smartest way to deal with love fraud is to prevent it, to teach people how to spot it before they get hooked.

That’s why I love presenting to students and teachers. Knowledge is power, and knowledge that sociopaths exist, and that they usually start their lying and manipulation in high school, gives young people the power to protect themselves.

The newest program offered by Lovefraud Continuing Education is geared directly towards teachers and other education professionals. It is a video of a presentation I did last year for the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey.

School systems often require teachers and other school professionals to be on the lookout for dating violence. But violence is usually the culmination of an abusive relationship — not the starting point. In this program, I teach educators the Red Flags of Love Fraud, so they can help students avoid dangerous involvements in the first place.

Specific parenting strategies may help children at risk for developing personality disorders

Many Lovefraud readers have loved  someone, had children with that person, and then realized that you’ve gotten yourself involved in an abusive relationship.

You suspect that your partner, the mother or father of your children, has a personality disorder — and then you hear that personality disorders are highly genetic.

What do you do? And if you’re a therapist, how do you help a client in this situation?

Starting September 14, Dr. Liane Leedom will present a four-part webinar series called Overcoming Children’s Genetic Risk for Externalizing Disorders. It is designed for mental health professionals and offers continuing education credits, but parents can benefit from the information as well.