Women Winning Divorce with Heather B. Quick, Esq.

#103 Surviving Narcissistic Abuse In Divorce With Nina Batista

Episode Summary

In this episode, Heather Quick, attorney and owner of Florida Women’s Law Group, discusses how to spot narcissistic abuse, what it is, and how to heal from it with LCSW and survivor, Nina Batista.

Episode Notes

About Our Guest

Nina Batista is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience working with individuals, families and groups battling a variety of life challenges such as addiction, mood disorders, trauma, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, self-esteem struggles and behavioral concerns. Not only has she helped clients who struggle with the disease of addiction or those who engage in reoccurring maladaptive behaviors, but also assisted the loved ones who have been impacted by it. Nina earned her undergrad in psychology at Northeastern and completed her last year online at Capella University while studying abroad in the UK. She received her Masters of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University. She believes that clients require an intimate and comfortable space that feels safe in order for healing and growth to occur. Her goal is to assist clients in identifying barriers that are hindering their wellbeing and growth and help them in developing a sense of self-worth that allows them to thrive.

 

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"Women Winning Divorce" is a radio show and podcast hosted by Heather Quick: Attorney, Entrepreneur, Author and Founder of Florida Women’s Law Group, the only divorce firm for women, by women. Each week Heather sits down with innovative professionals and leaders who are focused on how you can be your best self, before, during or after divorce. 

In these conversations, we are looking at how women can win at life.  With our guests, we enjoy the opportunity to explore ways all women can win and enhance their life, no matter where they are in their journey, because divorce is just point in life, not the end and not what defines you, rather it can be a catalyst for growth. 

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Episode Transcription

 

Heather Quick: [00:00:00] Welcome to Women Winning Divorce. I am your host, Heather Quick. I am an attorney, entrepreneur, author, and founder of Florida Women's Law Group, the only divorce firm for women by women. I love thinking big, thinking outside the box, creating creative solutions for women, and empowering women to win in all aspects of their life.

Our approach at Florida Women's Law Group is to provide women with a strategy to not only achieve their objectives, but win at life. I believe that what may show up as adversity is simply an opportunity to change and improve your life. In each episode, I sit down with Innovative professionals and leaders who are focused on how you can be your best self before, during, and after divorce.

In these conversations, we are looking at how women can win at life. I have the unique opportunity to meet women when they are at a transition period of life. But that is only the beginning to becoming your best self and winning at life on your [00:01:00] terms with our guests We enjoy the opportunity to explore ways all women can win and enhance their life No matter where they are in their journey because divorce is just a point in life Not the end and not what defines you rather a catalyst for your growth

Welcome to this week's episode of Women Winning Divorce. I'm Heather Quick, owner and attorney at Florida Women's Law Group. Today I'm joined by Nina Baptista. Nina is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in addiction, mood disorders, trauma, and most specifically is a survivor of narcissistic abuse herself.

Welcome, Nina. 

Nina Batista: Thank you so much for having me. Hello. I'm so excited to be here. 

Heather Quick: Well, you are amazing. I can't wait for our listeners to hear all about you. And we're so glad to have you today. [00:02:00] So please tell us a little bit about you. You know, how you got to where you are professionally. 

Nina Batista: Yeah, absolutely. So I became a therapist initially, um, just due to mental health.

I lost my brother when I was 19 and I wanted to help people. So I initially started in the field with addiction. So that's a lot of my background substance abuse. Um, but then I, you know, ended up in a relationship with a narcissist. And I started to get really intrigued by it, so I started doing a bunch of studying, um, ended up now being certified through the new institution of Narcissistic Abuse Survivor Treatment.

So I am certified through that, which is a new evidence based practice that, um, just was founded by Sandra Brown. And I'm also certified in Trauma Informed Coercive Control, which goes hand in hand. 

Heather Quick: Wow. Yes. I have recently. [00:03:00] Been, you know, studying up on that just to learn and, um, it's all fascinating and fascinating because like there's just stuff to read about stuff, you know, behavior that's been going on for a very long time, um, I'm sure.

But now do tell us, like, why is it so important to certify narcissistic abuse survivor treatment? Because that's new development, right? 

Nina Batista: Mm hmm. So it's a new development and it's so important because a lot of and and and something for us to know is that in school as therapists, we don't really learn that much about pathology and personality disorders.

So it has to be a training that we like we elect to take outside of schooling. And what happens is a lot of survivors are being misdiagnosed and mistreated because they're showing up with symptoms that are similar to like borderline personality disorder or bipolar or schizophrenia and they're getting re traumatized by the system, by [00:04:00] therapists, by the institutions, um, by the court system.

Um, so it's so crucial to really spread awareness about this so survivors are getting the proper treatment. Now, when, 

Heather Quick: um, you said you're, um, you know, going through the tragedy with your, your brother kind of led you into the mental health field and therapy, but you kind of skate, you didn't go deep into, you know, you were dating a narcissist and that got you intrigued because a lot of times people don't seem to realize they are dating a narcissist, but obviously you had some awareness there.

So I can't let you skate over that too much because I want to know a little bit more. Absolutely. 

Nina Batista: So I, you know, and I was in a relationship with this man who, when I initially met him, I thought he was my soulmate and he, I thought he was the love of my life, right? We would talk about what we were going to do in 10 years from now.

And I was in [00:05:00] grad school at the time. So I was quite vulnerable and hearing somebody tell me how great I was felt amazing. Um, and so. Slowly throughout the relationship, he kind of started throwing digs at me, but it was very passive because he was a covert narcissist, which I can get into a little bit later on or I can go into it now.

Um, but so he was covert, so it was very passive. It wasn't very blatant stuff. He would say is passive aggressive. It was like, Oh, are you going to wear that? Oh, um, you know, blaming me, he, he cheated on me and blamed me for it. And I started to notice like, you know, why am I internalizing this? I thought everything was my fault.

I ended up severely depressed. I gained, you know, 60 pounds in eight months and something didn't. feel right. I was like, I don't think this is normal. So I started to research and it was actually a book called like the verbally abusive man by Patricia Evans. And I read it and I was like, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.[00:06:00]

I was like, this is my partner. But I was so like, you know, and I even, I bought the book, I threw it in his face. I'm like, this is what you do. He gaslit me there. Right. And it wasn't until he discarded me. Um, and because there were so many ups and downs, right? Like, one day he would act like my Prince Charming, then the next day he was ignoring me.

And I didn't know what was going on. He always said it was my fault. Three weeks prior to the discard, he was saying he wanted to marry me. He actually discarded me on the anniversary of my brother's passing. Um, he got on a plane for a business trip, and I actually never saw him again. Granted, we've been together for four years, have a dog together.

Um, you know, I found out he stole a bunch of my stuff. I didn't even notice. Um, but yeah, never saw him again. And I started reading into more narcissism and I realized, oh my God, he is a covert narcissist, covert narcissist. And that's something that's not as well [00:07:00] talked about as like the overt narcissist that we see in television and movies.

Heather Quick: Yes. And we're going to get into that because that's our topic today. Um, narcissism in specifically. Narcissistic abuse. So, first, Sina, can you define for our listeners what 

Nina Batista: narcissism is? Absolutely. So narcissism is different from narcissistic abuse, right? Yes. So people can have traits. We all have personality traits.

So we all have a little bit of narcissism within us, right? A little sense of entitlement, feeling like we're better than. However, when it goes to the full blown disorder and personality disorder, that is when it gets dangerous. So, just because someone's a jerk doesn't mean they're a narcissist. They have to, um, meet the criteria in the DSM 5.

So that includes, you know, feeling the expectations of superior treatment from others, right? [00:08:00] They feel like they're, they're better than, um, a belief that they're unique. They exploit others, a sense of entitlement, um, they're very sadistic, an unwillingness to empathize, they don't, they, they can't empathize with other people, um, you know, cause a personality disorder, a personality is defined by how we think, feel, and behave with the world.

Now we're gonna throw in personality disorder means they think, feel, and behave in the world in a disordered way. Right. So, so 

Heather Quick: let's talk about covert versus overt. I think this is a good. Well, is that correct? I was just assuming. Okay. There's covert nurses and then, you know, overt narcissists. 

Nina Batista: So, um, if you can go into that, absolutely.

And. So there's a covert, and there's, so the overt narcissist is what we see, it's a lot in the movies, right, they're very loud, they're very arrogant, um, they will lash out at you, the anger problems, [00:09:00] they're pretty direct, you know, they'll just name call you, um, they're a lot easier to identify because of their intense emotional reactions.

Now, the covert narcissist is something that not many people talk about, and they're harder to identify because they come across as insecure. They're not very loud. They're not in your face. They're not that life of the party. They are actually gonna be the person in the corner on their phone, silent. And in society, we're like, how can they be a narcissist, right?

Because a narcissist wants all the attention, they want to be the center of attention, but the covert is that manipulative, secret, passive aggressive person that is going to criticize you, but in a very subtle way. So he never name called me straight up, but it would be like, yeah, you know, oh, you're wearing that, or I don't want to be seen with that, right?

Something very, like, minimally that doesn't necessarily, that couldn't be That could be minimized to people when they hear that, like, oh, it doesn't sound [00:10:00] that bad, but as the victim, hearing that over and over and being constantly passively, aggressively, um, criticized, it really takes a toll. And instead of lashing out, they also have this passive rage, and I call it the silent rage, right?

Like, I almost wish my partner would lash out at me. Instead, he would completely ignore me. Completely stonewall me is what we call it and stonewalling is when you just put up this barrier and almost pretend like this other person doesn't exist. So I would be begging him to talk to me and he'd just sit there and I felt his energy, right?

I felt it and it was so intense. Um, but I didn't know what to do. Right. 

Heather Quick: So that is, um, yeah, and I know I've talked to so many women over the years and it's the difference from. When you live with someone who can just really do that silent treatment and just stonewall you, like you said, um, [00:11:00] you feel so lonely, but it's not like you're alone because sometimes you can be alone and not be lonely.

But I think when you live with someone else who can really put up that wall and completely shut you out, it is, it's quite 

Nina Batista: isolating. It is. And I think a lot of people negate it as abuse. And it is abuse. You are essentially, like, the messaging is that you're not even worthy of being spoken to, right? And especially by your partner, this person who is meant to be, again, like I said, the love of your life, your partner, your companion isn't even giving you the respect to look at you and acknowledge you.

It is so insidious and so painful to be on that receiving end. Now, 

Heather Quick: typically, and let me ask you this, because I think so, because this is a person That you love and trust. And so that's where those, those remarks in that behavior is so painful. Like you said, is [00:12:00] this something that shows up slowly? Maybe after they've drawn you into their web, um, and then it starts, they're really good at probably showering you and.

You know, putting you on a pedestal all that in the very beginning before this kind of covert passive aggressive behavior starts. 

Nina Batista: Yeah, so there's actually a cycle of abuse that they engage in and, you know, it's funny, I say narcissists, they're, they're consistently inconsistent, right? Because if you read, and I work with a lot of survivors, but even the books, like, you know, it's like, wow, that was my relationship.

And, you know, how we identify it as the idealization, devalue, discard, Hoover. So the initial stages is that idealization. That's when the love bombing happens. That's the beginning stage. They put you on a pedestal. They tell you that everything you do is amazing. You know, that God created me specifically for [00:13:00] you.

I mean, that was my, my ex said that to me. He even dedicated that to the country song. Um, God, literally God made me for you, right? And it was, and so I felt so special. I felt so special and you get hooked in and I think clinically the psychology about it, it's so quick and fast paced. Like he wanted to be with me all the time, but in, in, in a loving way.

It wasn't creepy. It was like he was showering me with gifts and telling me how great I was and just wanting to spend time with me. And I felt like I, I found this soulmate and at this point I was already hooked Uhhuh. And it wasn't until like a few months in and I think, you know, as soon as he found, as soon as he really knew that like, man, I'm in love with this person.

Uhhuh, is when this. Subtle dig started to happen and it was very subtle, but I noticed it was all the things he used to say He loved about me now. He started to criticize me for with or for him. 

Heather Quick: Okay, so we have the Idealization, right? That's the first that's the first [00:14:00] phase first part of that cycle And so then what's next what what what was that again 

Nina Batista: next?

So so then it's the devaluation 

Heather Quick: devaluation and that probably Can go on for some time. 

Nina Batista: Well, they go, they basically, how you get addicted to is they go back and forth from idealizing you to devaluing you. So they suck you 

Heather Quick: back in, right? They beat you down, but then try to pump you up, suck you back in and, and I'm, the psychology I'm sure is just, um, it's hard to resist.

I would get, I would imagine once you're Intertwined in this relationship. 

Nina Batista: Mm hmm. Well, because, you know, after the love bombing, you're enamored with this person. You think they're your soulmate. And then, when the subtle criticism starts coming in, it's very hard for you to conceptualize that. Because it's like, how can the love of my life now be critiquing me on all these things they used to say they loved about me?

So, [00:15:00] And we start to internalize that, right? I must have done something wrong. There must be something wrong with me. You 

Heather Quick: must have changed because he used to like it. So now you're doing something that you didn't used to be, right? So you're making this, which isn't true, but that's what your brain is going to work.

It's not true, 

Nina Batista: but I have somebody who I trust fully, who's loved my life, telling me it's my fault. So, okay, and I'm a self reflective person, so I will, you know, try to look at my behaviors and say, okay, maybe he is right. Maybe I shouldn't have asked him that question, right? Maybe I shouldn't have asked him what he was, what we were going to eat for dinner, because he was having a stressful day.

And you start to think it, right? And it sounds so illogical now when I say it, right? But in real time when it's happening, it's, it's that process. You really convince yourself that you are the reason they're acting this way. So that's exactly what they want. 

Heather Quick: And then, and then you said there's the discard, and again, this is a cycle, so it can go back and forth, back and forth, people, this should [00:16:00] be a classic, like, breaking up, but then getting back together.

Mm 

Nina Batista: hmm. So, right, or is it 

Heather Quick: just a final at the end? So it's 

Nina Batista: different for everyone, right? It's different. Um, like for mine, throughout the relationship, he would dangle our relationship as like a carrot and weaponize our relationship, try to threaten to break up with me for like the smallest things. Like again, like asking what we're going to have for dinner when he was stressed to the point where and telling me things like no one else is going to tolerate you.

You're so annoying, right? Because I want to date night once a week with my boyfriend, apparently that was me being too needy, too much, um, and no, no other man will ever tolerate that, um, so he would tell me these things to make me feel like I hate him. I'm a terrible human. I am unlovable. And then he would be like, I'm gonna leave you.

And I'm like, hold on, please don't leave me, please don't leave me. And I would start acting in [00:17:00] all these ways to get him to stay. So they do the discard, like, throughout the relationship, minimally. It's like a form of abuse. But then at the final discard, and I think this is something really important. It is planned.

They plan the discard. But for the victim, it feels like it's a surprise, right? Because for me, like I said, three weeks before I was discarded, he was telling me he wanted to marry me and buy a house. And then out of nowhere, on, and they love to do it on a very special occasion. That is their goal. They want to ruin a day that's already important, right?

Like my, the anniversary of my brother's death to make it about them and then they will just coldly like either in an email, in a text message, like as if you are just someone they just met, like an acquaintance, not like you've been with them for four plus years and just cut you off. Just cut you off like that.[00:18:00]

Wow. And it is so cold. It's sudden abandonment, right? Like it. 

Heather Quick: That is in just just a cold shut off now. What so what is the Hoover? What is that? 

Nina Batista: Yeah, so hoovering is when they start to slowly kind of creep in. So they'll, they'll break up and then they'll come back, you know, like through my relationship, for instance, when he did like the little mini discards.

Okay. He would tell me he didn't want to be with me and then all of a sudden the next day be like, but I'm in love with you. What are you doing? Like, right, and start, like, liking my photos and try to, like, reel me back in. Um, and the hoovering after the final discard could be the same way. They can get what we call flying monkeys, their friends.

Um, to start. I love it. Yeah, it's like the Wizard of Oz, you know, um, they're flying monkeys to come do their dirty work and come like comment on your posts and, and, and just [00:19:00] basically to remind you like, Hey, I'm still here. I'm still here. I want to come back. Um, they usually do this when they don't have somebody else.

Um, when they can't find another target, and they're trying to get you coming back into their web. Wow. 

Heather Quick: Wow. Well, that is like, it is scary. And I know so many of our listeners, um, have been through this or may not even realize it. Right? Because I mean, there's, uh, so many women probably in these situations with no idea that this 

Nina Batista: is what's going on.

Oh my God, it's so prevalent. Um, you know, I even have a few clients who came in thinking it was something completely different. And then after doing a thorough assessment, I'm like, no, actually, you're in an abusive marriage. And they're like, mind blown by it. And you know, I can relate to that too. I had no idea.

I had no idea. [00:20:00] And a lot of us, what we do is we rationalize because, you know, they had child abuse or they'll start saying these things. And we're like, Oh, it's because of this. And we normalize the behavior, but no, it's abuse. There's no excuse for abuse.

Heather Quick: That is, that is so true. And I think that's the big thing, the normalizing of the behavior and you're making the excuses and you're so in it that, you know, you don't even realize like how much, you know, how abnormal it becomes until somebody who can objectively, you explain what's going on and they'll be like, no, this is.

This is really bad. You are in an abusive relationship. 

Nina Batista: Mm hmm. Usually a good method, I tell clients, if your best friend shared with you the type of relationship you're in, what advice would you give? And every single time, the response is, well, I would tell her to run like hell. I'd tell [00:21:00] her to get out.

I'm like, well, that's funny. Now. Yeah. That's funny. Now. Now, do you think abuse 

Heather Quick: changes like alongside major relationship shifts like divorce or separation? What, what do you think you would see happening in that kind of situation? 

Nina Batista: Absolutely. There's even a whole study. It's we call it post separation abuse.

Um, the abuse escalates. Um, a lot of survivors think, you know, oh, I'm going to get a divorce. It's going to stop. But unfortunately, what they do is they weaponize the legal system, um, to up their antes. Because they see it as another way to control them and there's various ways that this can show up. Um, they can use harassment and intimidation trying to intimidate you not to separate with them, right?

Saying you're never going to make it. Um, they can use physical and sexual violence against you. Um, they, their [00:22:00] favorite using your children if you do have children. They will use the children as a chess piece and sometimes they'll even, you know, whisper these things in mom's ear or dad's, um, Sorry, they whisper things to the children about mom, right?

Like, Oh, mom is mom, right? Mom's so tired lately. She hasn't been able to come to come to your practice and for a kid you start to internalize that like, oh my God. Yeah, mommy's not showing up. So they try to basically alienate you from your children to really remove you from any sort of connection and that makes you feel oh my God.

Well, my husband is saying this and now my children are saying this. I am the problem. 

Heather Quick: Yeah. And it's so insidious and very difficult to prove, um, from, from, you know, the legal standpoint, but like, within this, this, the weaponizing of, you know, the process. How, how have you seen that affect, affect women in the divorce [00:23:00] process?

Nina Batista: Yeah. So I have seen men, first of all, usually they love going to court because it gives them a platform and an audience. Yes. Yes, 

Heather Quick: they do. 

Nina Batista: It gives them a platform. And what they want to do is they, until intentionally provoke the victim to show up as, like, super emotional in the court system, right? So how this affects them and how I've seen is they're, since my, the, the survivors aren't getting proper treatment, they're not learning the skill set to regulate themselves, naturally they're showing up as traumatized, right?

With emotions, maybe emotionally unstable, as some people would call it. And the controller just sits there and looks like the stable one and then now all of a sudden they have all of this power to be like, Oh, she shouldn't get custody of the children. Look, she's an unfit mom. So they really utilize this [00:24:00] process to further alienate you and make you the issue.

Now on, you 

Heather Quick: know, things like where they are trying to make you look unstable and, you know, maybe false accusations, how, how, how do women protect themselves in that kind of 

Nina Batista: situation? Yeah. So it is, since they are going to do that, it is so important. And I do this with my survivors and I call it playing the tape forward.

Because you know you're an abuser. You know the things that they're going to say. You know the things that they've said about you. So it's really trying to prepare yourself that you know all these bad things they're going to say about you, what they call the smear campaign. So you're already emotionally prepared in advance.

Therefore, you're able to ground yourself, and what you want to do is act exactly the opposite of what they are accusing you of. So if [00:25:00] they're like, Mommy's always tired and stuff, well, okay, I'm gonna make sure, you know, I'm I'm not. Not always tired, right? I'm gonna have energy during the day or, um, you know, the instability.

Maybe I'm gonna work on skills. So I don't show up as emotionally dysregulated in front of my kids. So I don't give them the further ammo. Does that make sense? It 

Heather Quick: does. It does. And that is, um, you know, you bring up such a great point is that they know, right? And we, as the attorneys, you know, in, in that kind of situation, we don't know their spouse, but they do.

And sometimes we do have those conversations. What do you think they're going to say? Like, you know this person intimately and even if you're not sure what is your instincts telling you that they're going to do, act or say, because you're probably correct and it's better to really talk it through again, just to prepare yourself so you're not blindsided by hearing this.

Nina Batista: Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. If we [00:26:00] really if we really know again, I say they're consistently inconsistent. So yeah, it is that kind of roller coaster, but We know what they're going to say and the things that they've said we can feel it. So yeah, to your point 

Heather Quick: and Why is it so important to see a therapist and and or an attorney?

That's educated in narcissism when you're going through a divorce or family law 

Nina Batista: matter Oh, man, I mean it first of all to get the right diagnosis and treatment Therapeutically, right because as I said, my client was she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia Because she was so paranoid and her abuser was actually tapping into her phone and listening to her phone and, and there was every right for her to be paranoid.

However, an untrained clinician sees that as you're delusional. Why are you like, right? And you're making this up. So finding a therapist who really understands what we call coercive control or narcissistic [00:27:00] abuse to help really validate you, educate you on it. and help you process that trauma and heal.

Now, the attorney piece is crucial as well, because what I've noticed is, like attracts like, and what I mean by that, a lot of times abusers end up hiring an attorney who also has a lot of narcissistic tendencies narcissist themselves, and they can abuse the entire System like filing all these motions and, and you as the, uh, as the victim have no idea.

And they end up signing things away from, from lawyers who don't really understand the abuse process. Right. So having an attorney who gets it and is able to kind of validate and slow them down and really talk them through it, is crucial because they could end up, you know, losing custody of their children.

Mm-Hmm. , um, or, or other, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, right? What do you think? ? Oh yeah. Well, 

Heather Quick: you know, it's. [00:28:00] It really is. It is insidious. It can be difficult to prove because, you know, we have whatever the issues are and what needs to be determined. It really does affect when there are children and the time sharing.

But what I have found in my experience, and I'd love to know your opinion experience is that a lot of times these these men, um, who are whether it's a covert or overt nurses. Yeah, Are usually pretty really successful in their profession and in the community. So again, that's like another added thing.

They come in and present with like. All these credentials are really important job, um, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and I think that can also play a big part into, you know, how the, the court sees it, um, you know, when they're [00:29:00] in that setting and in a hearing and depending on the issues. It also. It creates and mostly in the mind, I believe of the wife, the victim, you know, this imbalance and that I he's going to present so good.

And yes, he probably will. And there's a lot, I think, for women to. Overcome just to, like you said, just to be there and be calm and be, you know, in control of your emotions when you're in a hearing and in strong enough to really go through the process. 

Nina Batista: And, you know, I'm a social worker, so I have to put in my, my thoughts about the gender piece, because I couldn't agree with you more, because I think society, society tends to villainize a woman with emotions, but it's like, you know, of course she has emotions, she's going through a divorce, now let's add the abuse on top of that, that's on like steroids, right?[00:30:00]

And then you have children in the process and then, but, you know, men. They usually get more sympathy when they come in with emotions or they, they get more, I don't know. I kind of find that, um, but I just, it's, it's awful. It's awful. 

Heather Quick: It really is. And it's, you know, another way that, you know, yes, because the men can come in and they can, you know, look like they can play that card and be super sympathetic and I've seen them successfully, you know, try to turn it around so that their wife, the victim, you know, is.

Is portrayed as the unstable 1 and. You know, no one knows what goes on in the house, right? And there's very little evidence. Usually what I have found to be the most successful is, um, you know, when, when there are children and they are in therapy and it's a good therapist and then they can really [00:31:00] pull out like, well, this is really what's going on in our opinion.

And that, that, that can take a long time. And it's a lot for, for so many women and families to go through. It 

Nina Batista: is a lot. It is a lot. And, you know, it impacts the children just as much, much as it does the mother. Absolutely. 

Heather Quick: It is. And it's hard on everybody. Now, what are some strategies, um, to implement when dealing with a narcissist in, in a divorce that can help these 

Nina Batista: women?

Boundaries. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, and boundaries is something that you never had in this relationship because these abusers do not believe in boundaries and what boundaries are, I, what I define them as is, is a guideline, a set of guidelines to show other people what [00:32:00] is acceptable and not acceptable.

In relation with you, right? How they can interact with you. So, you know, I know that there's a court app that allows them to talk just through that. Um, if that's a Yeah, but really, implementing these boundaries, no, I'm not going to be touched, no, if you put your hands on me I'm going to call the police.

Right. I'm going to call the authorities. Um, no, I'm, I'm not going to be spoken to in this manner. I'm going to walk out, um, really implementing and reinforcing them and, you know, leaving if you need to go get a hotel room. Um, but making sure that you're really reinforcing that. And I also say to write everything down.

that happens. Because we tend to, we're in the trauma brain and we can't retain any information and it's so important just to document everything that's going on, not only to validate yourself that this is really happening and you're not being [00:33:00] gaslit, but also I think probably for the courts and for the therapist really to identify what's going on to help you kind of get through this.

Heather Quick: Okay. I want to, I, and I, I've, I've certainly heard this term, but I'd like for you to define it for us, the trauma brain, because I think that will help our listeners like explain what you mean when you say that. 

Nina Batista: Yeah. So when we go through trauma. Our brain completely changes, and especially if we're going through repetitive trauma with someone that we're living with, right, the, um, consistent gaslighting.

So what happens is our brains can get completely impacted, like our prefrontal cortex, which is the part that allows us to think rationally, becomes unable to activate. So we're not able to retain information, hence why it's so easy when they abuse us and then the next day they buy us flowers that we [00:34:00] negate it so quickly because our brains are like, oh my god, we don't even remember what just happened, right?

The other piece as well when we get traumatized is we respond in fight, flight, fawn, or freeze. Right. Fighting is when, and a lot of survivors turned experts call it reactive abuse. That's when you show up almost like the abuser, you're also yelling at them, or you might engage in behaviors that you would never have engaged with if you weren't in this relationship.

I like to call it self defense. I like to call it self defense. Okay, okay. Because, because you can only get, you can only poke a bear so many times before you, the bear's gonna growl. I mean a woman's going to respond, the partner's going to respond, you know? Um, so that happens also because of a part of the brain, our ability to regulate our emotions, our lid is flipped.

Right? The part that regulates our emotions is completely on haywire because we have no idea what's going to happen. [00:35:00] It also impa you know, the prevalence of autoimmune diseases, chronic illnesses, um, fatigue, brain fog, not being able to even understand you know, read the book, you the retention is not even there.

Um, flashbacks. Sleep issues. Um, all of those have to do with essentially these neural pathways in your brain being destroyed from the consistent emotional and potentially physical and sexual abuse. 

Heather Quick: A lot. Okay. Now, how, how is 

Nina Batista: treatment 

Heather Quick: different with narcissistic, narcissistic abuse versus domestic 

Nina Batista: violence?

So, there's not necessarily. So, do you mean for the victim or the? Yes. Well, or 

Heather Quick: I mean, you know, they're always ordering anger management courses. Um, there's nothing to order. Well, because it's not as prevalent. It's not as understood by the courts or even recognize the [00:36:00] narcissistic abuse. Whereas they are, you know, coming around with domestic violence.

And so, yeah, they'll say, oh, well, they'll order an anger management course. But, you know, um, that is what it is. Yeah. Okay. And what about with a narcissist who has, you know, who's, you know, a narcissist who's been abusing 

Nina Batista: you? Uh, it's. No, they do not change. And I am in the business of change, right? But someone has to want to change in order to change, and that's why these battered interventions, I mean, forgive me for saying this, I think they're an absolute joke, because you're sending this abuser in there that doesn't even identify or want to change, they're just doing it to check off a box.

And they just can keep repeating the cycle because this is a character, it's a pathology. Right? This is how their brain, like I said initially, they have a distorted sense of the world. So they can't [00:37:00] conceptualize things the way that we do. To them, they're not behaving irrationally. They're behaving normally.

So, 

Heather Quick: yeah, now, okay. So I got to ask because this makes you what about like a couple's therapy, you know, you go to therapy together with your narcissists, um, narcissistic husband or partner. 

Nina Batista: How does that work? No. Oh God, I did that. I learned from my mistake and then also reading, um, more evidence but what happens is essentially they end up, especially if you go to a therapist that isn't trained in this, end up aligning with the abuser and my therapist at the time, because I had asked her, because I was in such distress and I wanted to help.

So I was like, let's reach out to this couple's therapist. I was a therapist. I was asking her about the modalities. I'm like, do you work with couples like Gottman theory, whatever, just trying to understand her credentials. And then we get there and he is just complaining about me being controlling the irony.

Yeah. And she was validating [00:38:00] him. She was like, yeah, you do seem kind of controlling, like all the questions you asked. So it just reinforced his beliefs and it gave him another, another person to be like look, even our therapist thinks you're the issue. So, no, going to couples counseling with an abuser is actually a setup for the victim to be re traumatized.

Heather Quick: Yeah, I can see that. Well, they have another audience. Um, for, for this behavior and to reinforce themselves for sure. Okay. So earlier in the show, you mentioned coercive control. I'd love for you to tell us a little bit about that because I know it really goes hand in hand with everything we're talking about.

Nina Batista: Yeah. So coercive control as layman's terms is essentially stripping somebody of their autonomy. Which is the basis of a narcissistic, abusive relationship. You behave the way I want you to behave, or you'll be punished. [00:39:00] You behave, you do what I say, or you will get a consequence. And that is the foundation of this relationship.

That's the foundation of domestic abuse as a whole, right? Mm-Hmm, . You have to do what I say or else there's going to be a consequence. And you know, it is exactly almost like what cults use. And the manipulation of, like, what pimps use with prostitutes to keep them because they make victims so fearful for their life that they become dependent on their partner and all the gaslighting makes them think that they're not trustworthy, right?

The victim, I can't trust my own judgment. He knows what's best for me. He knows what's best for me. He knows I can't make my own decisions. So therefore, you're now almost like his slave. You do what he says.

Heather Quick: How do, I mean, how do the majority of women get out of this kind of thing? 

Nina Batista: It is really hard. [00:40:00] Um, it is really hard. I would definitely, you know, when you, some, some things that Are really big red flags or when they start to, you know, threaten your life or make jokes about that, or, you know, they even have a gun in the house.

Like, it's not funny. Jokes about killing your partner is not funny at all. Um, so really ensuring that you try to connect with safe people, right? Making those connections again, whether you have friends or family, and if you don't, calling the local DV shelter, um, to try to get out of it. Um, try to get safe, you know, get your money situated in the corners.

A lot of them financially abuse you, right? A lot of them don't allow you access to money. So really trying to set this up and making a safety plan to get yourself out of it. Now, with this, 

Heather Quick: I know in a lot of situations where there is domestic violence abuse and similar with a [00:41:00] narcissistic abuse, you know, you do feel rather isolated and that's.

By design that they've really kind of, I know many women like, you know, it cut ties with my family because he hated them. I really don't have any friends anymore because he doesn't like any of them or, you know, for all the various reasons. Um, so I, I would imagine that that's common too, makes it a little bit more challenging because they do feel alone because they are isolated.

Nina Batista: Well, that's exactly what the abuser wants because you're easier to control when you're by yourself. There's no other people in your head. Um, but what I've noticed too with survivors, and that's actually really valid your point, right? They isolate themselves is to reach out to these people and be honest.

Hey, you know, I know I've been distant but actually I, I think I'm in an abusive relationship and I really need help because shame needs a safe space to, to dissolve. Shame is what keeps us in these [00:42:00] relationships, right? That shame of like, I can't leave or I don't want to tell anyone or, um, you know, no one's going to believe me.

But someone will believe you, someone will believe you and someone will help you. There's people out there. And 

Heather Quick: so, you know, what is for the victim, you know, for anybody listening to this, any women, you know, as far as like, what's a great first step, or I guess, you know, at first, how do they know, how do they find a therapist that they know has really been trained in this?

You know, if they've heard us and they're like, okay. That sounds a lot like what I've been going through. What would you recommend to them? What should they be looking for 

Nina Batista: in a therapist? Yeah, absolutely. So, um, you know, you can interview your therapist. They do normally do consultations. So, um, definitely finding someone on psychology today is basically like a Facebook for therapists, right?

And you can click like domestic abuse. Um, but ask the therapist questions. Like, do [00:43:00] you know what coercive control is? Have you worked with a person whose partner was sexual abuse? Abusive and controlling in this, you know, passive aggressive way, really asking the therapist this for them to understand because if they say no, I don't know what coercive control is no hang up find another therapist, right, 

Heather Quick: go on to the next one.

Nina Batista: They won't be able to identify it. Um, a lot I know the domestic violence like. org like the National Coalition has a lot of resources as well of therapists who are trained in this that can help you. Um, but definitely making sure that, you know, they know about narcissistic abuse or coercive control, asking them and flat out, like, you know, what is your, do you have experience?

Do you have training in this? That's a hundred percent what I would recommend. 

Heather Quick: And you know, how, what should we say, or how would you talk to these women about how to, how do they get out of the marriage like this safely, right? Like you, you know, you've talked about, you know, [00:44:00] they start, you know, saying things.

About killing you hurting you and things, you know, that that aren't funny, but even no matter how they're presented to you, um, you know, how do they even begin to create a safety 

Nina Batista: plan? Yeah, and I mean, it's a difficult question to ask. It's so individualized. Right? Right. Um, however, you know, initially, I think.

It's a, every DV shelter also helps you create a safety plan if you call up and tell them, and they'll help you assess, you know, your level of risk, what's going on financially, that also is a big factor, right? Do you have access to money? Can you even pay for a hotel or Airbnb? Or do you have a friend to stay with?

And if you don't, would be to then go stay at a shelter, because that is a better option than staying at your abuser's house. Um, so it's really Finding somewhere safe and people to talk to you need to start that connection. That is really [00:45:00] the first step Start reaching out to people for support because you won't feel so alone.

It won't feel so as overwhelming and you're going to be able to then slowly kind of think of a plan. It's going to be effective for you 

Heather Quick: now, um, if you can, without, um, you know. Violating any kind of confidentiality, but could you like, when does, uh, um, some of the more drastic situations you've seen, you know, throughout your career, maybe to help women understand that, you know, the range 

Nina Batista: of things.

Yeah, um, so I've seen something I think that's really common and then a lot of. Women don't even realize it's like spousal rate. Which is, just because you're married does not make them entitled to have intercourse with you. You can say no. Um, and you know, one of my clients, he wouldn't [00:46:00] let her see the children unless they had, they, he could have sex with her.

And she didn't even acknowledge it as rape at the time when she was telling me, because she was like, oh, he's my husband, you know, he came on top of me. But he held her down, she had bruises, and he chalked it up to passion. And no, it was, she was being raped. And he actually, um, she wanted to use a condom and he poked a hole in it to impregnate her, so it was even harder for her to leave.

And they do that too. They will try to take basically control of your own body, of your organism, right, of your, you getting pregnant, and then they won't let you do anything about it. They might, um, I had another one where they switched out her birth control pill, so she got pregnant. Another client who was being drugged.

He was putting drugs in her, um, drink, she had no idea, and she was starting to act kind of unstable, natural, like she was on substances. And then he filed a motion to say that she was a drug addict, [00:47:00] um, as a way to, um, ask for custody of the children. So they go, I mean, it's sick, it's sadistic, I don't put anything past them.

Wow. 

Heather Quick: Wow. Now, um, I'm guessing, well, you know, our office works, uh, we represent women only now. And we've talked in terms of this with most of the women being, uh, victims, but, um, you know, do you work with both men and women, or have you altered your approach at all? You know, when you're working with women different from men?

Nina Batista: Yeah, I mean, I, as a female myself, I, you know, working with women is a huge passion of mine, especially because we are, it's, it's just science, it's facts, you know, that women are victims more than, more so than men. Um, and, you know, even the physical side of it, you know, we are built a bit smaller, we are in positions of vulnerability, [00:48:00] so, you know, my heart really does go out to these women because, unfortunately, we're in a system where the man kind of dominates, to your point, right?

Like, a lot of them are very wealthy in positions of power, and these women get stripped away. of everything. Stripped away of everything. And, and it's so different from, cause I have some male victims, but they don't get stripped away of everything just like the woman does. Right. And that's something I noticed.

Um, it's more so more of the emotional abuse, the criticism and whatnot, but that's how my approach kind of changes in the sense that I have a lot, I mean, I have a lot of empathy for both, but you know, the. The, the way you feel, I mean, I mean, I felt it myself, a shell of a human, everything, like, I didn't even know who I was, my best friend who I've known for 15 years didn't even recognize me, she thought we weren't even friends anymore, but in reality it was just like, because of the relationship, um, so I know I kind of just digressed everywhere, but, [00:49:00] um, I just, I, I love working with female survivors, I do work with male survivors too, but, Female survivors are where my heart's at.

Heather Quick: Well, and I, I totally understand. And there's so much you can do for them. And, and there's. It's not general acceptance, not even general knowledge, let alone acceptance of this, of narcissistic abuse and that you are a victim of this and you know what it's like to, to be a survivor of that and what treatment would be.

So I, I think it's wonderful that you're doing this and I find that intersection obviously in divorce family law, you know, we get, we get a front row seat to that a lot. Yeah. It. There is a lot of it. I know that, um, just in our experience, of course, to varying degrees, but we see, we see a lot of women as victims of [00:50:00] narcissistic, um, husbands.

Nina Batista: Yeah. I mean, they just are more prevalent. It's just in the evidence, it's in the studies. 

Heather Quick: Now, what have you learned from working with women and families throughout your career that you'd like to share with our 

Nina Batista: listeners? Um, definitely something that the children are impacted by this abuse. And I think a lot of the times, you know, I've had survivors being like, Oh, no, but I tried to shield them.

They didn't see it. They didn't see it happening. Or no, he's such a good dad. He's such a good dad, and I think something I really want to stress is he cannot be a good dad while simultaneously abusing the mother of his child because he's setting it up for the mom not being able to show up 100 percent for their kid, therefore that is a form of child abuse.

That is a form of abuse. 

Heather Quick: No, I love it. You're right. And it's just that [00:51:00] it's the truth and you're not shielding them from anything. And it can't be such a great dad if you're abusing the mother of your child. Like 

Nina Batista: exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So your kids have been impacted even though you don't think that they have, even though you think that they've shielded them, they pick up on it, they see it, they feel it.

Um, they can be, yes, they, they, they need support and therapy as well. So that is one of the biggest things I've definitely wanted to make sure I said. Well, I'm so glad that you 

Heather Quick: did. And lastly, um, cause we are, I can't believe coming to the end of our show. This was a great discussion, Nina. You are so, um, so informative and just filled with good information and expertise.

I'm just really. I'm amazed at what I've just learned in this short time talking with you. Um, so I know there's a lot more, um, of information that you could share with us, but where can our listeners find you, [00:52:00] uh, for more information and resources? Because you are in Florida, right? You're licensed in 

Nina Batista: Florida?

Yes, I am licensed in Florida and I have, I'm opening up my own private practice now. I'm located in Boca Raton. Um, so I do also offer virtual sessions. My website is in the works. So right now, my, you know, I have my Instagram, which is Nina B counseling, um, Or you can email me at hello at ninabatistacounseling.

com. Um, and I do work with people outside of Florida too. I can do coaching sessions with them to help them. Um, but yeah, that's, 

Heather Quick: that's me. Well, that's awesome. And, uh, we will make sure that all of the links are below in the show notes. But, um, we've reached the end of our show today. Thank you so much, Nina.

Um, really enjoyed this discussion. It was really an important discussion. And, um, I think the more that we're able to talk about narcissistic [00:53:00] abuse and, you know, and help people understand and educate them, you know, more women will seek help because they'll recognize maybe hearing this today will say, Oh, that's not normal.

Okay. I can go do something about that. Um, and for our listeners, if someone, you know, is going through a divorce or is thinking about a divorce, please reach out to us at floridawomenslawgroup. com. We'll join our Facebook group, Women Winning Divorce. Links will be in the episode description. And of course, if you enjoyed this show, we would just love a five star review so others can find our show.

And Nina, once again, such a pleasure. You are a wealth of knowledge and 

Nina Batista: expertise. Thank you so much for having me. This was amazing. I adored it and I'm, I'm happy to, you know, help our fellow survivors. 

Heather Quick: Absolutely. So thank you again 

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