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Eleanor Cowan

Overcoming the residual fear from sociopathic abuse — two steps forward, one step back

By Eleanor Cowan

One bitterly cold winter’s morning at the Vendome metro in Montreal, I hopped a bus that would take me to a lecture on “Attentiveness and Developing Awareness” — and got a complete lesson well before I arrived at the class.

The driver of the vehicle, an unsmiling muscled-bound individual, closely examined my transfer for the minute expiry hour stamped upon it. With a curt nod, I was permitted to take my seat. About two minutes later, the driver revved up the ignition for departure, but not before an elderly lady rapped on the glass door, asking for entry. The driver looked down at her, examined his watch for the ten seconds it would have taken to open the door and admit her, adjusted the shift sticks and noisily tore off without her. I saw the aged woman bow her head and quickly step back onto the snowy sidewalk shelter as the bus swept away without her.

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Grooming: How the religious and cultural ideas of my childhood conditioned me to accept pain and abuse

When I said that “god was my first abuser,” at our regular meeting of Parents of Sexually Abused Children, no one sucked in their breath or exhibited shock. A tough group, no one even blinked an eye.

That week’s topic, “Grooming” was assigned by Aidan, our lead Social Worker who, while she listened to us, liked to re-shape lifeless paper clips into unconventional characters that she’d stand up on an enormous art canvas she’d been creating for years and years.

Recovery from the sociopath — learning to count what truly matters

“Was it the sex?” a new member asked me at our weekly meeting of Parents of Sexually Abused Children. “Is that why you stayed with your user for 14 years?”

Three faces swung to me, including the lead social worker of our small assembly, a tall, serious senior woman who encouraged us to ask and answer questions. Aidan didn’t smile a whole lot, but over time, I came to respect her genuine sincerity and tremendous breadth of knowledge.

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Unearthing my repressed memory of being drugged and raped

By Eleanor Cowan

A young woman from my building banged on my door at 3 a.m. “It’s me! Darlene!” Soon on the couch and sipping the hot tea I made for us both, she wept uncontrollably. “I know what happened,” the twenty-four-year-old cried as we waited for the police to arrive.

“I know what happened. He ordered me a night cap at the bar while I was in the washroom. I don’t remember going to his place. I woke up undressed and in pain. Oh! I’m lucky I escaped.”

“Wow, a nightcap knocked you out like that?” I asked, tucking my shawl around her shaking form.

When sociopaths use righteous indignation to exert control

By Eleanor Cowan

My husband liked to discuss discipline. The importance of it. The intrinsic value of restraining one’s impulses especially when such personal control would benefit the greater good of mankind.

My two children and I’d eat dinner while listening to his serious value-driven talks about what would please God and advance the salvation of this sorry world. Sacrifice and service topped the list. Politeness and containment followed.

It’s very hard to look back at those years of my disassociation – to calculate the degree of blindness and emotional paralysis that, unresolved, characterized my life since childhood in my first abusive family.

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My First Unsuspecting Year in My Marriage to an Exploiter

By Eleanor Cowan

With a sparkling wedding ring on my finger, I’d claimed a much-desired new identity – no longer the binge-drinking daughter of an alcoholic mother who’d taken her own life, no longer the thrice-raped young woman drowning in shame, but instead newly married to a handsome, highly educated university student. I’d begun a whole new chapter of life.

Still, I noticed things. Little things that I dismissed. That summer of 1973, after my regular work hours at the library, I waitressed part time for the extra cash to pay for my fall university courses in Paris. While I noted my husband’s five-year high stack of unpaid student loans, I decided that his finances were none of my business.

Quelling is not coping — how my siblings and I dealt with our sociopathic mother

By Eleanor Cowan

In our family of ten children, our main objective was not to recognize the gross abnormalities of how we were treated, but to quell them. When a storm erupted, we’d leap into action. Unpredictable rages meant that we, Mother’s children, speedily grouped to control the situation and do as needed to quiet her distress and end the drama.

Lightning-fast signals fired between us: “Storm clouds overhead,” I’d say, or “Hurricane Warning!”

If Mother was revving up for a full-scale crackdown, “Earthquake! Earthquake!” would be whispered as we gathered our younger siblings to dash outside or hide in the basement.

Never Good Enough (My childhood adaptation to abuse)

By Eleanor Cowan

I was eleven years old.  “Do you know what you are? asked Mother, thrusting open my bedroom door to find me, as she knew she would, in a predictable spot reading a predictable book. “I’ll tell you who. You’re a big, fat, lazy nothing.” Waving her souvenir from Mexico, a horsewhip, she flicked my hair up at the back as I hit the stairs to begin new tasks.

Even though I weighed less than a hundred pounds, even though my chores were done and I’d earned the right to read for awhile, I did not defend myself.  There was no talking back, no disrespect, no arguing. Only one rehearsed sentence was permitted. I said it: “Yes, mother? What can I do to help?”

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How, as a child, I was groomed to be a people pleaser

By Eleanor Cowan

“Shut your big mouth and buzz off!” my mother exploded at me as she slammed a boiling hot cloth against my brother’s face – her cure for his chronic swollen acne.

“Do you know how much money your pimple treatment costs this family?” screamed mother. Pressing on another steaming square, she ignored Gordie’s pitiful cries. Slightly taller than my mother, my brother’s strong-muscled arms trembled at each side as tears streamed down his face.

A capable teenager, he could have landed her on the kitchen floor in an instant. Or, he could have run.

From Moon to Earth — recognizing that my experience was actually abuse

Editor’s note: Please welcome a new contributor to Lovefraud.com — Eleanor Cowan, author of “A History of a Pedophile’s Wife.” 

Eleanor Cowan

Born in 1948, the same year women first voted in Quebec, she began her life odyssey with a lovely home, good food, some affection, and soon, the company of nine siblings. These are the details she relied upon, not the nights of sexual abuse, the constant criticism of her mother, nor the religious oppression in her strict family. With the alcoholism of her mother and the chronic absence of her Dad, life slid downhill fast. She became a devout Catholic, an anxious people pleaser  — and a complete stranger to herself. Three drug-rapes into her 20’s, she decided to erase the past, turn a brand new page, get married and have a family – and promptly married a pedophile who molested their children. After writing her book, Eleanor gladly visits groups, presents her story and answers questions about her entry into a mature adult world where tears and laughter can co-exist.

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