Bk1 Ch2: Equal Opportunity Abuse wtss1-004

Opening this episode with a commentary about a child’s selective perception, Demian shares her personal experience regarding that and how no one is immune from covert abuse, whether as targets or allies.

In preparing for this episode I thought about how I used my father’s treatment of my mother to illustrate his contradictory behavior, and not his treatment of me. I wanted to share my thoughts about how selective perception arises and how that’s used by abusers to take advantage of their targets.

In this episode I share a little more intimately than what I thought I would in this series, and that’s when it dawned on me.  It’s becoming apparent that these episodes are just as much a part of my healing journey as I hope they may be for you…

And here I thought I was going to be the one offering healing to others, lol. Well, if I am, that’s great, but without a doubt, this is definitely one of those “you teach what you need to learn” kind of things.

We are walking this together. I’m not some expert sharing the wisdom of what I know, but a fellow traveler who is finding learning opportunities and invitations to stretch beyond my comfort zone as I walk with you.

In this episode, we’ll take a close look at covert abuse as an equal opportunity abuser. In other words, anyone can be a target. And in a very real sense, every person who connects in some capacity with a covert abuse is a target in one capacity or another.

Plus, a little Something to Think About at the end to ponder before the next episode, Chapter 3, Facing the Dark and Staying in the Light”, where address dealing with negative fallout when we realize the price we paid in our relationship with covert abuse.

I’d love to hear your thoughts below. If you have anything you’d like to share that this episode has brought up for you or a thought to express, let me know in the comments below. Thank you for listening and don’t forget to subscribe!

Stay strong and stay true

~ Keeping the Dream


Opening and closing song is an original piece by Demian and her friend and music partner, Stacey Young, the title song of their first CD together, “DreamSinger – For the Sake of Love”


Demian’s Website: www.keepingthedream.com
Demian’s Patreon Site: www.patreon.com/keepingthedream
Healing Journey Facebook: www.facebook.com/keepingthedream


[0:0] Intro and Music

Episode 4, from the Where There’s Smoke Series on Covert Abuse. Book 1: Covert Abuse and the Art of Discernment.
Written and narrated by Demian Yumei of KeepingtheDream.com

Intro and closing music composed and sung by Demian Yumei and Stacey Young

This podcast is based on a book I’m writing, so you might want to start at the beginning with episode 1, but you can start here if you like.

This is Episode 4: Chapter 2, Equal Opportunity Abuse


[0:44] Tea & Conversation Commentary of Last Episode

So before we dive into this chapter, I’d like to have a bit of tea and conversation with you to just very briefly clarify a point I was making in the last episode, Episode 3. I wrote that “I couldn’t reconcile the two fathers in one man.”

When I gave examples of witnessing my father’s bad behavior, they were of his treatment of my mom. Not me.

You might think the contrast between how he treated me at night and how he treated me during the day would be the conflict I’d use to illustrate, but there can be no conflict with a contrast that doesn’t exist. And if something isn’t acknowledged or on one’s horizon for even being a possibility to be acknowledged, then for all practical purposes, it doesn’t exist.

My father told me he loved me every day. We went on weekly walks. We talked about politics, religion and being kind to animals. He began asking my opinion about general family matters around the dinner table when I was very young; 1st, 2nd grade. These things would have been the foundation of a beautiful, loving father/daughter relationship if they grew and flourished within healthy boundaries. But they did not.

By late elementary/early middle school, our relationship began to increasingly exclude the other members of my family. By middle school our talks started to take place downstairs in the basement bedroom, after supper, and increasingly in the dark. Soon, we weren’t talking so much, but lying together in the dark listening to music. From there, I guess my father thought it was natural that kisses should follow…

This is difficult for me.

Suffice it to say, this was all done within the pretense of our “special relationship”. And I adored him. But I realize now I was groomed for sexual abuse.

It’s a tremendous source of shame for me, when I can even bring myself to look at it — yes, I know it’s never a child’s fault. Yes, I know the guilt is his and not mine. And yes, I know I am not to blame. Nonetheless…

There have been times I wish I had been flat out raped — no pretense, no illusions of love.

Not saying people who get raped in that way are better off. They’re not. But there are layers of illusions, of redefining/ recreating reality and gaslighting on steroids, that people who are not groomed or seduced into rape over the years of their childhood, don’t have to dig through to get to the truth of what happened to them.

My younger sister had no such illusions. She was flat out raped. The impact was devastating for both of us, but I skirted around the issue much longer than she, because I had so much illusory crap to dig through.

So it’s still easier for me to look at the abusive ways he treated my mother, than how he treated me. And when I was a child, it went beyond difficult to impossible. There were, however, no such filters seeing how he treated me mother.

So, my father’s mistreatment of her was the only conflict of character I was able to perceive at that time.

Even if I could tell myself the truth about his relationship with me, I doubt I would have been able to tell anyone else. Every dynamic in our family was set against it.

It’s convoluted.

It’s supposed to be. It’s covert abuse.


[4:39] No Immunity

Are there any prerequisites for becoming a target of covert abuse? Other than breathing, no.

Well, if you came from an abusive background, that might make you a susceptible target, but it doesn’t make that a prerequisite. What if you come from a healthy background, no template for abuse, no self-defeating patterns of behavior, no toxic normal?

Let’s say you did grow up in a good home, had a great childhood and a positive outlook on life. You’ve had your share of heartaches, but no major betrayals or traumas especially at the hands of those who are supposed to love and protect you.

You have a certain amount of faith in humankind. Not that you’re perfect or think people are perfect. You’re not naïve. But you like to give people a chance and a lot of times, you’re proven right.

You get along with some people and you don’t with others. Personalities mesh or they clash. You’re no stranger to conflict and you know and have experienced that some people have more character than others.

You’re pretty good at ascertaining your environment and the people in it. Those you call friends are generally trustworthy. And more importantly, you’re trustworthy.

You see forgiveness as a second chance, the benefit of the doubt as a gift, and you’re both gracious with and grateful for them. You don’t see these things as weaknesses that are just asking to be taken advantage of and for which you have contempt.

You don’t normally think of orchestrating people against one another or playing them for benefit or amusement. When you’re angry at someone, you don’t retaliate by devising ways to mess with their head or make them feel like they’re going crazy.

If you lie, which you try not to, it’s more often to avoid pain than to inflict it.

Playing manipulative games with people, especially those you love or care about is offensive, even incomprehensible to you. You don’t treat people like that. It’s hard for you to imagine other people doing it — especially someone you love.

And that’s the weakness, the crack in the wall, the unshuttered window that covert abuse breaks into to pillage the safe space of your world.

Maybe theoretically you know it can happen. Maybe you’ve even seen it or experienced it from someone you didn’t particularly care for, but the person looking you straight in the eye? The person calling you “friend”, the one telling you he or she loves you?

Okay, your loved ones aren’t perfect. But when they behave in less than exemplary ways apologies are made and good faith promises are kept. Even if it takes time, it happens.

Not so with covert abuse. But it is adept at performing these acts of responsibility, honesty and love — playing them and you like a well-skilled actor. So well, in fact, that you may not even realize what the act is hiding until it’s already done a great deal of damage — to you, to your other relationships, your reputation, to how you see the world and the people in it.

Making assumptions based on the principles you live by and perhaps spending most of your time or life with people who share similar values, you can be blindsided by someone whose standards aren’t just lower but subterranean lower.

Covert abuse is no respecter of persons. Whether you’re attracted to covert abuse, because it’s what you know or just happen to cross the path of covert abuse and it’s what you don’t know, covert abuse is an equal opportunity assaulter.

Your background doesn’t decide whether a covert abuser targets you or not. It just helps them determine what kind and how much manipulation they will need to use.

There’s no immunity for you, just because you’ve never been broken. Consider yourself a challenge to someone who sees you either standing in the way of what they want or as the means to get it.


[9:18] Everything Goes/Anyone Goes

You know who else isn’t spared? Allies. You know — supporters, collaborators, minions of covert abusers — allies.

Covert abuse doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t spare. Everything goes. Anyone goes. Those willing to do the “dirty work”, as it were, are often already targets of its manipulations as much as those on the receiving end.

There’s a payoff or they think there is, but they are held in no more regard then the target. They’re just more useful at the moment.

They don’t realize they’re being lied to or manipulated, that behind the smile and encouraging words, the offer of friendship, a kind of exclusive camaraderie, they are often looked down upon with the same contempt they think is reserved for the target.

People who place their trust in someone who lies to them to get them to do what he or she wants are abused. Their trust is abused. Their needs and vulnerabilities are used in the service of covert abuse.

They are responsible for acting on whatever hurtful thing the abuser wants, but the abuser is still accountable for manipulating them. Even those who use the abuser’s justifications as excuses to do the hurtful things they’ve always wanted to do, are still tools for covert abuse’s use.

The closest ally to a covert abuser, loyal in spreading the abuser’s agenda, may be the one who is the most gaslighted and manipulated. This is true in intimate relationships and institutional ones, in friendships and in politics.

Misguided and well-meaning or hateful and eager to hurt, both types of people are seen in the same light in a covert abuser’s eyes — resources to be used. The manipulation of covert abuse can be used in any direction — toward a target or someone perceived as a weapon against that target.

No matter what the perceived payoff, no matter how tempting, it’s important to remember that people who are useful can become just as quickly un-useful. Covert abuse can put anyone on a shelf for future use or trade up for a bigger gun.

Covert abuse can appear as a nemesis or pose as your friend.

Because you see, there are no ethics governing manipulation. There are no rules, no limits, except for maybe not getting caught.

If covert abuse is patting you on the back, you are not as cherished as you think.


[12:20] Outro: Something to Think About

I hope you found this episode meaningful. If you did, please subscribe to this podcast, Covert Abuse and the Art of Discernment, and share it with anyone you think may need to hear it.

If you’d like to help me continue creating episodes for this podcast, I invite you to consider becoming my patron at Patreon.com/keepingthedream. The more support I receive, the more time I have to make these episodes. It’s a bit of a challenge for me to get these episodes out to you in a timely fashion, but your financial support gives me the time to devote to it. The smallest monthly donation is a dollar. And it means the world to me.

So with all my heart, thank you…

Before I go, I want to give you something to think about and what it may mean to you, when I say covert abuse is an equal opportunity abuse. Consider where you fit along that spectrum of people who get targeted by covert abuse… and it is just a spectrum, a linear line. In real life people tend to overlap in categories other people like to make up.

In our next episode, Episode 5, Facing the Dark and Staying in the Light, we look at the negative emotional fallout you may experience as you begin to realize the cost of covert abuse — the impact on you and your loved ones, your health, finances and other areas of your life.

And maybe in preparation for that, I would just invite you to contemplate this fact.

You could be what some would consider a prime target for covert abuse based on your abusive background. Or you could be someone who just never saw it coming, because your background didn’t prepare you for that kind of manipulation.

The fact remains, in any assault, the responsibility lies with the assaulter. Period.

Let that sink in. It’s not because of who you are that covert abuse attacked you. Yes, people who manipulate look for those they think they can, but that’s because of who they are. That’s a reflection on them.

Who you are is going to determine how you handle whatever mess you find yourself in and what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go from here.

And that makes me feel really good. Because I know that the longer covert abuse assaults you, the harder it becomes for you to believe things can get better.

But you’re here. And that means a part of you still believes it can, that things can get better. What that looks like will probably change as you heal and grow, but the forward movement, that seed of hope no matter how big or small is what you need to make that difference. And you got it.

I’m so happy to be a part of this journey with you. Stay strong and stay true.

Until next time, this is Demian Yumei, Keeping the Dream.


Support Demian Yumei on Patreon

About the Author

About the Author: Greetings, fellow dreamer, and welcome! I’m Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist. Some of my creative projects are a CD of healing music, “For the Sake of Love” and a children’s book on the interconnectedness of life, “Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes” published by Illumination Arts. Currently, I’m in the process of creating podcasts for my book series on covert abuse. My commitment is to the creative process especially as it relates to the healing journey. Whether I’m singing at a vigil for asylum seekers, memorial for political activists or sitting around a table sharing tea and conversation with friends who just want to talk heart to heart, I am always deeply moved by the human spirit to love and live with authentic beauty. Thank you for being here, for reading my posts and/or listening to my podcast. There’s much to share, much to create and the journey has just begun! Meet you on the path. .


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