Bel Mooney has for some time been a ‘regular’ at Ren Towers. Her column in the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday has been both a joy and an utter revelation. Principally for how many times this person decides to dole out often incorrect and erroneous advice at best and at worst, downright dangerous words. Nor more so than an article that crossed my feed only yesterday,
It’s really quite hard to know where to begin with this one. Of course, Mooney writes for The Mail, so there is an expectation that are words are going to be somewhat right of centre. What Mooney does in this article is follow a course of narration that runs like a strand through all of her advice columns. That of ignorance, bigotry and lack of affective empathy of which I will demonstrate.
The respondent to the column is a woman in her mid thirties. She tells us that she has a few partners who have been abusive. She finds the strength to leave the second one by finding a female-centric support group. Unfortunately, after regaining some good degree of self-confidence, she falls sway again but this time to man who abuses her through sexual means. The woman does not appear to be clear in her own mind if she enjoyed the sexual side of the relationship but she is clear that the way she was treated in general was an abusive relationship (he was actively finding very much younger escorts and sex workers without the partners consent). It is made clear that the man is getting on for thirty years older than her.
Bel responds. Jesus, must she?
She starts strongly, immediately commending the survivor on getting out on the discovery of her partner using sex workers. She continues in this vein for some time until…
When you joined that supportive group of women, I’m sure they encouraged you to research the weakness that took you into two abusive relationships and which subsequently led you into a third with a horrible man (old enough to be your father, which somehow makes it worse) who treated you, sexually and domestically, like his slave.
It’s subtle but it’s there. Mooney commends the ‘supportive women’ but then quietly twists the narrative to suggest that the age gap may be significant. There is also further slidings of the truth in that the woman is unsure on the inter-personal sexual part but really resented being taken advantage of in the domestic part, finally snapping at the infidelities.
Is it really relevant that he’s old enough to be her father? Who is the arbiter of the relationship age gap if not the people involved themselves? Actually, funnily enough, it is relevant but not for the reasons Mooney is about to expunge.
What on earth did you ‘believe him to be’ — once you found out he was a liar? How could you sustain romantic illusions about a man who humiliated you?
Possibly one of the most cold-worded, hard-hearted phrases I have ever had the misfortune to come across in my entire life. That’s quite a feat considering that presumably Mooney nor the respondent actually know each other. It shrieks of the Mother, standing over the heartbroken daughter; raging and screaming at her. This is a phrase that lacks affective empathy in spades. A truly empathic person would have written;
I know why you wanted him. I get that. But now is the time to heal and you cannot heal if you are thinking of him. You did not deserve this abuse so let’s try to work out what we can do to stop it in the future. So you can be happy.
Mooney then goes on to say
Then, wouldn’t it be a good idea to go back to that supportive group …You will probably have to brace yourself for some disapproval, but perhaps you need to go through that process, too.
Wow. As a facilitator myself of support groups both on and offline I can categorically state that ANY support group which allows other members to attack or flame is NOT a support group. It has become an echo chamber for someone. Support groups should be safe spaces for everyone. By the very definition of the word it cannot be a support group if it allows hostility.
It is also an incredibly dangerous paragraph because it automatically instills in an abuse survivors that they will be mocked/shunned/hassled by others in a supportive setting and thereby making it just a little bit less likely that they will access support. The fact is that the majority of support groups do not tolerate this behaviour. Thus Mooney’s comments could be counterproductive in assisting others.
But Mooney is not done there.
You may find some of the women (you should insist they are honest) have themselves had experiences of becoming sexually submissive — and losing even more self-respect because of actually enjoying the abasement.
I. Cannot. Even. The fact is that the majority of women are sexually submissive. Ether it is full blown whips and chains or tooth achingly vanilla or more usually, somewhere in between and closer to the vanilla end of the spectrum. The entire path is loaded with the imprecation that there is something morally wrong in being sexually submissive or being ‘debased’. This kind of mentality leveled against female kinksters is well attested but she lets the whole of my gender down; dragging the cause of feminism itself down. But then, let’s remind ourselves what Mooney writes for and for which demographic; older, white middle-class England.
I also draw attention to the phrase you should insist they are honest. Why should the letter writer insist on anything? Why should the other support members be demanded to tell the truth? No one has any right to insist on anything. Very telling that Mooney, very telling…
Mooney ends the piece by offering links to external websites which may or may not be of assistance and then urges the writer of the letter to work on herself. The fact is, most therapists do not really understand NPD abuse and therefore are of a limited value in helping heal the trauma inflicted.
A better way is of course to visit narcsite.com and arm yourself with the right information and then find a therapist who is skilled in dealing with the trauma inflicted by narcissists.
Articles such as the one referenced here are not just unhelpful, they are downright dangerous. The fact is that from the little we are told about the woman, she has clearly become entangled with a man suffering from NPD. It is also highly likely that the man proceeding this one were also NPD sufferers. I empathise strongly with the woman who has been abused. Now even more so than seeing her letter printed and Mooney’s own almost near tone deaf spewings. This would, I perceive, have hurt the woman further.
Note that the woman has no right of reply because comments for Mooney’s articles are always turned off. I wonder why…
Mooney has utterly failed to grasp why abusive relationships start and how the trauma bond develops (suggesting for example that the woman is addicted to her phone and just STOP looking at it is blindingly unhelpful if you don;t understand why you have been targeted in the first place) and therefore her advice is equally as flawed and is her lack of empathy. This lack of knowledge and lack of empathy coupled with the enormous readership of the DM/MoS makes this column extraordinarily dangerous.
I am sure she will indeed become very regular here at The Towers.