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April 24, 2024 28 mins

Dr. Gail Saltz joins Rachel to dissect bad relationships and how to not make the same mistake twice.

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
This is Rachel Go's Rogue.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Today, we're doing something a little bit different.

Speaker 3 (00:13):
I actually can't go rogue today because I've recorded a
very personal episode talking about my experience with domestic violence.
It's important to me to share it with you guys,
but I have been advised not to air the whole thing.

(00:33):
But there are such valuable pieces in this episode that
I think is so incredibly important for me to share.
And if you have ever been in a situation like
I have, I hope you can use this episode as

(00:55):
a resource and as a tool to find a way
to get yourself help and to heal. We're going to
get into today's episode with doctor Gail Saltz. She is
a psychoanalyst, an expert in the domestic violence field, and
just a trigger warning, this episode does get very heavy. Hi,

(01:19):
doctor Saltz, thank you so much for taking some time
out of your day to join me today.

Speaker 1 (01:24):
My pleasure. It's important topic.

Speaker 2 (01:27):
It is a very important topic, and I feel like
it's one of those things that I just wanted to
give them a little trigger warning that we will be
talking about some heavy stuff. Let's get into it, because
I feel like it's time. What is domestic violence. What
is your definition of abuse?

Speaker 1 (01:50):
I think abuse has a wider definition than most people realize.
An abuse is well, it can be verbal, can be
psycho logical, can be financial, sexual, or physical, or any
combination of those. But what's important to understand about abuse,
particularly in an intimate partner situation, is that it is

(02:13):
really much more about control of the partner, power and
control than it is about anything else, and that is
usually what is driving the perpetrator to commit those abuses
to try to keep control of their partner.

Speaker 2 (02:35):
I've been processing through abuse that I've experienced with my therapist,
and there are some things that I didn't know was
considered abuse. She actually gave me a PDF format that
maps out examples of physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse,
emotional and psychological abuse, stalking, on harassment, digital abuse, and

(03:00):
financial abuse. Some of them I was surprised to see.
We're on there. The first one is driving recklessly or
dangerously with you in the car.

Speaker 1 (03:12):
Many women are unaware that what they're experiencing might be abused,
and the reason for that is twofold. They think abuse
means only you know I'm being hit, or you know
something physical is happening, or I'm being sort of berated,
you know, in an obscene way. They think it has

(03:35):
to be something that level of extreme and very direct
and very constant and very you know, over time, and
of course those things are but as I mentioned earlier,
when it's about control and power, one of the means
of doing that is to instill fear and instill a

(03:59):
feeling of helplessness, and so part of the methodology I guess,
i'll say, sadly of the perpetrator, right is to create
this sense of being in constant fear and unable and
helpless because obviously it's easier to control someone who feels
all those things than someone who doesn't, and when confronted

(04:25):
in any sort of way, which would be challenging the
idea of control, gaslighting is a very common way of
doing that, you know. Unfortunately, I think we've gone through
a couple of years of discussion of the word gaslighting,
and it went from like, let's try and understand what
that is. From my vantage point, as you know, psychiatrist
who's very invested in public education, I think it was

(04:47):
important to understand what that is, but it became really
overused where everything you don't like is gaslighting and that
that's not what gaslighting means. Gaslighting is really telling someone
that they're reality that they are experiencing is untrue, and
that they can't believe their own thoughts, they can't believe

(05:08):
their own experiences, because only you can tell them what
they're actually experiencing, which is likely the opposite of whatever
they're actually experiencing. That that is a snary being gaslet.
So you know, if you're in a car and you
are in a terrifying situation and barely hanging on and
respond appropriately fearfully, oh my gosh, that was horrifying and scary,

(05:34):
gaslighting would be to say, you know, that's ridiculous. Nothing
scary happened. What you witnessed, what you experienced, didn't happen,
and I'm here to tell you that. And so, in
addition to being made fearful, it's also very scary to
be constantly gaslet because what happens as a result is

(05:54):
that you start to believe you can't believe yourself, You
can't believe your own thoughts and your own experiences in
your own gut reactions, which is why it is a
common scenario in abuse. It is a way of keeping
a partner in check and very dependent on your explanation
of reality.

Speaker 2 (06:13):
I was able to disassociate from that, and then I
completely suppressed that memory until my friend brought it up later,
and then it was like, oh my gosh, I completely
forgot about that. Is that a common thing for people
to do.

Speaker 1 (06:32):
Yeah. In abuse, it is when something rises to the
level of being overwhelmingly anxiety producing in the moment. Often
what happens you see this not just an intimate partner violence,
but in abuse of all types, particularly for example, in

(06:53):
children who are in homes being abused, that they in
the moment, whether it's physical abuse or sexual abuse, they dissociate. Right.
The dissociation is the brain's mechanism of containing anxiety that's
at the level of being unable to be processed. Essentially,

(07:16):
so a feeling of being outside your body, looking at yourself,
maybe feelings of numbness. That is the experience in the
moment of dissociation, like I am not here, or maybe
I'm hovering above myself looking at myself, and I don't
feel in myself. And then when dissociation happens in the moment,

(07:41):
particularly but even sometimes without it happening in the moment,
later you know that memory hasn't been let's say, properly
stored right because you weren't in that experience. You were
dissociated or depersonalized we call it. Derealization is another aspect
of it. And and so that memory is not as

(08:02):
accessible and in fact it may even be further repressed,
compartmentalized and repressed so that you don't keep remembering it
because it is so disturbing to you. These are all
defense mechanisms of a normal brain, you know, a normal

(08:23):
brain who you know in an overwhelming, really overwhelming circumstance.
And sometimes the later inability to recall also has to
do with the panic or fear that if you recall it,
it will have consequences that come with it, you know, consequences.

(08:43):
Is so for women who are in an abusive relationship,
the consequence might be I have to think about leaving,
you know, I have to think that this isn't the
relationship I should stay in, or it's unsafe, or I
could be harmed, like lose my life. I will have
no money, I will I mean the million and one

(09:06):
horrors that might come particularly to women. I'm talking about
women because most of the time it is women. Of course,
it can be the other way around. Women can abuse men,
and it does happen, but it is predominantly men abusing women,
and it can happen in any relationship. Women can abuse women,
Men can abuse men, I mean, unfortunately, can happen in

(09:28):
any way, but it's most often men abusing women. And
once you're sort of in such a relationship, it can
be very difficult to think about the consequences of leaving
that relationship. It can seem incredibly scary for a myriad
of reasons, some really psychological and not necessarily reality based.

(09:51):
Some are reality based in addition, but yes, dissociation is
a psychic mechanism for keeping at bay fearful overwhelming memory.

(10:20):
People often say, well, how am I supposed to know
that it's that it could be coming when I'm in
a relationship that at many times seems incredibly loving, right,
and like this person professes such love to me, and
hasn't you know, hit me or you know, done something
where I go, well, there's no question what this is? Right,

(10:43):
And these are some of the really clear cut earlier happenings.

Speaker 2 (10:49):
Are there other early warning signs that your partner may
become emotionally or physically abusive.

Speaker 1 (10:56):
Yes, I think there are many. For example, criticisms that
are meant to be quite undermining of oneself esteem, criticism
about the way you look, criticism about the way you dress,
who you hang out with, who you spend time with,
and along those lines, A partner who tries in various ways,

(11:19):
whether it's through criticism or other means, to distance you
from other important people in your life, so you know,
doesn't want you to be or relate to continue your
close friendships or your family members. This is really sort
of the early attempt to isolate you, and isolation is

(11:41):
a big piece of intimate partner abuse, so that ultimately
you won't really have people to talk to and help
you when you're being gas lit and things are happening
and you don't have a support system. You will not
have a support system. But those earlier signs are usually
sort of criticism of those people, or they're not good

(12:03):
for you, they're not a good influence. I don't like
the influence they have on you. A lot of them
have to do with undermining your sense of competency, your
sense of agency. They may tell you things like no
one will love you in various forms. No one will
love you the way I love you, right. Jealousy and

(12:24):
possessiveness is another early sign. The problem with this sign,
and the reason, as you alluded to at the beginning
of this, why don't women realize there you know in
this is because many women believe and feel this. The
stereotype of love, you know, of really being romantically excessively

(12:49):
loved is jealousy and possessiveness, and they feel like if
their partner is jealous and checking out where they are
at all times and wants to make sure that they're
not with anybody, they could be jealous about, you know,
possessive in that way that is a demonstration of how

(13:11):
deeply he loves you. They might find that romantic, they
might find that sexy. I'm here to tell you it
is not is neither. It is not romantic, It is
not sexy, and it is an early danger sign really
of abuse. Men who view women more as objects to

(13:33):
how they look and how they you know, and feeling ownership,
that is really an early warning flag. Jealous men are
more likely to be abusive. Substance use and abuse is
an early warning sign alcohol or other drugs. A man

(13:55):
who harms animals. That is very clear hallmark of abuse.
You know, it's sort of devoid of empathy and devoid
of an impulse control or you know, inability to contain anger.
But also more importantly, it's the desire to inflict pain

(14:20):
past relationships where there's been abuse. A partner who tells
you my exes were all crazy, My exes were all bad.
Whatever went wrong, it was always all their fault, and
anything that happened they deserved because you know, they were

(14:41):
crazy and or did terrible things or it was all
their fault. That is also should concern you.

Speaker 2 (14:48):
Yeah, one of the people that I was seeing really
put that narrative out there that his ex was crazy,
and in a way, I think that he might have
made her crazy because when I was taking some time
to myself to really reflect on my patterns in my
love relationships, I was thinking back to his ex and

(15:13):
I was like, I don't think she's crazy, like I
feel crazy. I think she's just you know, dealing with
this guy.

Speaker 1 (15:22):
Sometimes it's helpful to talk to an ex, which and
if your partner doesn't want you, you know, would do
anything to not have you talk to that X, you
should wonder about that, But I would say sometimes it's
helpful to speak to an ex and hear what they
have to say about what happened. I mean, look, in fairness,
there are people walking around that did have a really,

(15:43):
really difficult ex partner, and you know so the problem
is you can never say one hundred percent on any
of these things. Maybe the super jealous and possessive that's
that's never a good thing. The way that your partner
talks to and treats other women in his life, any women,
women that he knows well, or women that he doesn't

(16:04):
know well, his mother, sister, a friend, await staff, a
flight attendant. If he is berating and very important to
say disrespectful to women in his life and you are

(16:25):
witnessing that, that should be a red flag to you.
A man who does not respect women generally speaking, and
treats them in this way is only a matter of
time before you are included.

Speaker 2 (16:40):
Yes, I'm different and I can help him and I
can fix him. And he doesn't treat me this way,
like rationalizing like, oh, he might be an asshole to
other people, but he treats me like a queen, so
I must be special.

Speaker 1 (16:55):
That's very typical. I mean, you talk about right, why
don't women see it? Well, you know, talking about compartmentalization earlier?
Right form, which is, you know, basically, denial is just
the need to believe that certain things are true, That
this person loves you so much, this person will take
care of you so much, that this person will support

(17:18):
you and never leave you, that loving you in the
way they do makes you very special. Those things make
it difficult to examine much of anything, right, They really
keep you locked in. But that, in combination with the
things that abusers usually tell their victims of you are stupid, lazy, whore.

(17:43):
I mean, I say these words because they are the
most common words that abusers tell their victims. And the
purpose of all that denigration right is to zap you
of all self esteem. And then, of course later they
tell you no one will ever love you and take
care of you as much as I will, and you

(18:05):
need me. That combination of I feel worthless. They love
me like no one else will love and they told
me all the reasons nobody else will love me like
they love me. That combination makes it really really difficult
to entertaining leaving at all. Leaving that you can leave well,
if you can't entertain those thoughts, then you just try

(18:26):
not to have any of it come into your mind.
I think it's important that women listening know unfortunately, intimate
partner violence is really much more common than people think.

(18:52):
To thirty percent of women in this nation will tell
you at some point in their lives they were in
a relationship where there was intimate partner violence. It's close
to a third of all the women in this country.
It is. It is not an uncommon problem, and unfortunately,
many women don't get out and either you know, stay

(19:13):
in a cycle of harm and abuse that escalates. You know.
I I do a lot of public talking about, you know,
concern about rates of suicide and homicide and gun violence
and so on, but really one of the hallmarks of
gun violence, of of of murder, and the most common

(19:36):
group murdered in this country are women from domestic violence
by gun and you know, they feel trapped, they can't
see a way out, and there there always is a
way out, but it can be very very difficult, you know,

(19:57):
sometimes even getting out, you know, there can be dangers,
but obviously the earlier one gets out. That's why I
think it's helpful to talk about these early warnings that
the earlier one gets out, the less it's escalated. You know,
the longer something has gone on, the more dangerous, the
more likely of really life threatening injury, and the more
likely of continued stalking.

Speaker 2 (20:19):
You know, afterwards, what is the solution then? How does
somebody get out successfully?

Speaker 1 (20:26):
One of the first things I would say is trying
to find somebody in your life that you trust that
you can start talking to about what is happening. Of course,
if you're unclear, you feel so gasolly, you're not sure
what is happening, talking to a therapist can be super,
super helpful and clarifying what is going on with you,

(20:48):
what is happening, and obviously forgetting ideas for how to
remove yourself safely from the situation. Sometimes I starts for
someone though, with somebody that they trust in their life,
might be their mom, might be a friend. You know
this is happening. I need to talk through, like what

(21:10):
is happening. And sometimes you one's mind is so affective
that you need someone outside to say, hey, this is abusive,
really and you know you this is not safe to
stay in. You shouldn't stay and you are not those things.
But he is making you feel that way, and you
know you need to let me help you brainstorm about

(21:32):
how to get out of the situation. Sometimes a woman
needs to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There's always
someone there to talk to. Try to obviously, do that
not in front of your partner. This was actually a
huge problem and we saw big uptick in domestic violence
during the pandemic because women were in lockdown with their

(21:55):
partners and they couldn't even you know, get away enough
to make a phone call or to go to it
A shelter. Eight hundred seven nine to nine seven two
three three is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There's somebody
there twenty four to seven to talk to who can
give you resources like this home, this shelter. What to

(22:18):
take with you, what not to take with you. What
to assume he has seen your phone, you know, your messages,
et cetera, texting someone you know, sometimes doing something online.
You got to assume that he is looking at don't
assume that that is a safe way to converse with somebody.
Do it in person if you can, or call the

(22:42):
hotline when your partner is not there.

Speaker 2 (22:44):
The hot line, it just sounds so intense the National
Domestic Violence Hotline. It sounds like, okay, this is a
crisis moment, and it almost like me preemptively thinking like okay, no,
this is only when someone is going to be physical
with me, like someone's got to punch me in order
for me to call this number. Is that true?

Speaker 1 (23:06):
That is not true. This is a hotline that provides
counselors who are versed as we are talking about today,
you know, in everything from early signs to obviously very
dangerous situations, so they can be helpful in all of
the above. If your partner has harmed you in any way,

(23:27):
you are scared and you don't know what to make
of this, this is a reasonable call to me. You
will get a counselor who can talk through with you
what is happening and what's a reasonable next step for
you to take. Can provide resources like a referral. Maybe
you want a counselor to talk to who knows something

(23:48):
about this subject matter, can help you find someone.

Speaker 2 (23:52):
It's eight hundred seven nine nine seven two three three.
Just save that in your phone. If you've listen to
this podcast and it resonates with you, to save that
on your phone as a contact it's a resource for you.
I heard a statistic that people will try to leave
their relationship seven times before successfully leaving. This hotline is

(24:16):
there for you after like the first time you try
to leave and then you're not successful in leaving.

Speaker 1 (24:23):
Unfortunately, it is common to go back for all of
the original reasons that it was hard to leave in
the first place. Right, so you leave, you're scared, you
don't know how you're going to manage things, or maybe
even in a situation where you're financially able and you
have a place to go and all of that, you're scared.

(24:43):
You're lonely, right, you feel overwhelmingly sad. It's the end.
There isn't somebody who take us place right away, which
is a good thing. Trust me, before you've worked out,
because it's if you've been in an abusive relationship, I
really strongly urge you to dip into some therapy to

(25:05):
understand what might have led you there in the first place.
Because often women who get into abusive relationships there are
reasons that they're not aware of that have drawn them
this type of relationship, and without understanding what that is,
it's it wouldn't be unusual to enter into a very

(25:27):
similar next relationship, So it is really important that you
get help. It is also important and helpful because your
likelihood of going back will be diminished if you understand
how you got in. You know, many women have witnessed
abuses in their homes growing up, or had in a
past abusive situation, and they are repeating something. You know unconsciously,

(25:52):
they are repeating something and trying to rework something, reprocess something,
and that is drawing them to an abusive relationship, and
then it will draw them right back in. It is
hard to leave. You get scared, you don't understand what happened,
You feel a longing, you wish the familiarity. The man

(26:12):
is probably continuing to contact you and say, this will
never happen again. It's just because I love you so
very much. We can work this out. I promise to
never do it. And you go back, and you know,
he reminds you of all the reasons not going back
will ruin your life. And so yes, women often do

(26:33):
go back, and then you know, it gets worse and
it gets more dangerous. So you know, I think therapy
is super helpful in that regard, and also the structure
of systems that are out there for women who've been
in this situation that can help them financially, that can
help them with support systems, that can help them with

(26:53):
safe places if that's what they need, and frankly, to
help them to not enter into a new relationship that
is abusive again. If you are in any sort of
physical danger, I would tell you don't go back. Number
one house sides in this country are women from domestic violence.

Speaker 2 (27:15):
Protect yourself out there and know that there are resources
available to you. There are people like doctor Salts who
care for your wellbeing and you deserve only the best.
Don't settle for anything less. Thank you so much, doctor Salts.
You have a podcast of your own, I do.

Speaker 1 (27:37):
I have a podcast called how Can I Help? And
people can find me on Instagram at doctor Gale.

Speaker 2 (27:45):
Salts d R G A I L S A L
t Z amazing. Thank you doctor Salts so much.

Speaker 1 (27:52):
Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2 (27:58):
Thank you so much for listening to Rachel Goes Rogue.
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