Have a friend that you think, “Why is she with him? He’s so awful to her! Why can’t she break it off?” But she doesn’t. She makes excuses. She can see his good side. Sure, he’s an ass 90% of the time, but she’s still waiting for the nice side that he debuts 10% of the time. She wants to be there for that.
One of the reasons people stay in a relationship that is either physically or mentally abusive is because they are terrified of change. The monster they know is better than the unknown. Leaving an abusive relationship makes you vulnerable to the unknown, and for some, that is simply more terrifying than the known.
Now, apply the logic behind abusive relationships to the current social climate since the 2016 election. You or someone you know maybe be in an abusive political relationship.
I’m not saying that the same people who are in an abusive relationship with their president are also in an abusive relationship with a spouse/partner, but rather that it’s the same mindset, same principle and same dangerous patterns of denial.
If you see the current President as a deranged monster based on facts, videos, interviews and information that armed you with the decision not to vote for him. Imagine what a dark, terrified place people were in that felt he was the best option.
Watching friends support a movement that goes against their own best interests is bewildering. Watching a friend agree with something that is hypocritical to everything they’ve ever said they believe in, is mind-blowing.
And like all abusive relationships, many people believe the aggressor over friends and family, which is what make the cycle so hard to end. Even when all logic and rational thought shows that a person is lying, they still cling to the person filling them with lies, because lies from someone you feel connected with is sometimes more comforting than truth from someone you don’t know as well, or see as often. And let’s face it, people are seeing the faces of the current US leaders often. Maybe more often than family or friends.
And that is part of the problem, the US president is referenced and quoted and seen on video so often that he is becoming way too familiar.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship with their political leaders, don’t be afraid to get help. Psychology Today explains how to help. And if you want a less clinical professional opinion, turn to Bustle. Or if you want another opinion, here’s a helpful Huffington Post article. And if you yourself are in an abusive relationship with your leaders and you can’t get help online, get help somewhere.
According to the Huffington Post technique, if you apply Trump and the Republican party to an abusive relationship, everyone has been starting the conversation all wrong.
Instead of “He’s such an idiot! He’s a moron! How can you agree with him?”
Instead try, “No president is perfect. I know you love him. But I’ve noticed he doesn’t treat Americans well, and I’m concerned about you because you’re an American.”
According to this same article, to get through to someone, you need to embrace listening over lecturing.
Instead of :”Don’t you see how he’s brainwashed you? What is wrong with you?”
Try: “I don’t want to talk about him. I want to talk about you, and how you’re doing/feeling. Is everything okay?”
And if if faint light starts to break through the clouds for your friend, and they start to see this light, you may feel multiple emotions. If you are elated, resist the urge to prematurely celebrate, because like all abusive relationships, your friend still runs the risk of repeating comfortable patterns and getting back together with the moron.
Or you might be at the other end of the spectrum if your friend wakes up. You might be filled with inexplicable rage. “WHAT TOOK YOU SOOOOOO LONG?” Which is a valid question. And the anger is real and well-founded. But you have to find a way to move forward. The past is not productive, but the present and future are.
Try to be bipartisan in this moment. Find your inner Switzerland as you help your friend with Stockholm Syndrome.
Many people’s irrational continued support of Donald Trump may not be a conscious thought out choice as much as a coping mechanism.
According to WikiPedia. (Yes, I know I just lost all credibility quoting wikipedia, but bear with me.)
From a psychoanalytic lens, it can be argued that Stockholm syndrome arises strictly as a result of survival instincts. Strentz states, “the victim’s need to survive is stronger than his impulse to hate the person who has created the dilemma.” A positive emotional bond between captor and captive is a “defense mechanism of the ego under stress”. These sentimental feelings are not strictly for show, however. Since captives often fear that their affection will be perceived as fake, they eventually begin to believe that their positive sentiments are genuine.
And if you have a friend you’re attempting to pull out of a political Stockholm Syndrome, you have to be more reassuring than Fox News and Breitbart is terrifying. You have to convince them to stop making fear based decisions. You have to be more persuasive and safe and credible than the Fox News anchors that join them for breakfast every morning and dinner every night.
Recovering from Stockholm syndrome ordinarily involves “psychiatric or psychological counseling,” with an end goal of making patients realize that their actions and feelings stemmed from inherent human survival techniques. Counseling aims to reinstate normalcy into the lives of recovering victims, and to make sure that they can function in a way that is not out of fear or in the sole interest of survival.
Don’t assume that this article is targeting people who identify themselves as conservatives. I’ve actually seen many people who claim to be progressive fall into this same coping mechanism, “Well, he’s president now, what can I do?” And they decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and actually became more conservative AFTER the election. Not because they agree with current political policy in the US, but because they are too afraid to stand up and admit their beliefs.
Maybe referencing Patty Hearst, Stockholm Sydrome or Helsinki Syndrome or Lima Syndrome is too dated. This syndrome deserves it’s own name, like DC Syndrome.
And don’t forget that both men and women can be in abusive relationships. My personal belief is that it’s actually as hard for men to leave abusive relationships as women. A lot of decent guys end up with crazy bitches. And nobody leaves a crazy bitch. Ever. They think, “She may be a crazy bitch, but she’s my crazy bitch.”
Understand also that for some people, their political relationships may run deeper than their personal relationships. They may have only been with their partner 10-20 years, but they’ve been with their political party their entire life. They don’t remember life before their political party.
As you crusade for justice, make sure you don’t become unjust in the process.
And whether you address people by social media, or news media or in person, please, please, please, stop handing the mic to political leaders behaving badly. Keep the mic for yourself to share your views. Turn the mic to friends to hear their opinions. But keep the spotlight turned off the person you view as an aggressor. Keeping the light on him won’t make him seem worse, it will only make the person seem more, well, familiar.
If you stumbled across this blog by accident and need immediate help for a friend in a real abusive relationship, not one with a fake president, call a hotline (like 800-799-SAFE) and talk with a trained advocate.