Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to ‘Nesie’s Place’!
The first step to recognizing that you are in a toxic relationship is becoming fully aware of your unease, the increased self-doubt and also the fear when you are in the presence of a particular person. An event, a comment, reading an article or maybe a book makes you recognize that you are indeed the victim of toxic manipulation at work, in school or at home. You manage to observe the manipulator’s diversion and intimidation techniques and notice that they have gained an unhealthy control over you. It will be a painful awakening but an essential step to reclaiming your self-confidence and dignity.
In the second novella of my anthology ‘Manipulated Lives’ called ‘The Spell’, the reader meets Sophie, a young woman who innocently gets entangled in the lives of a single dad and his sensitive, young son.
Five stories – Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
The conversations I’d had with David left me very confused. Thoughts would literally jump into my mind at odd moments and make me drift back to things said between us. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was starting to realise that I only knew half of the story. I had once read a thriller that had me gripped for the whole weekend because the underlying theme of the book was a strange psychological phenomenon called Stockholm Syndrome. A group of hostages had started sympathising with the hostage taker, despite the fact that they had suffered physical and psychological abuse. The hostages had started to interpret certain perceived small kindnesses from the abuser as the presence of ‘normality’ and potential for ordinary humanity. Witnessing small considerations, they would believe that the hostage taker wasn’t that bad after all and that someone capable of kindness and even limited human compassion was therefore redeemable – despite the harm they’d done or were doing. The book had described very well how one’s perceptions could change his or her perspective or point of view on what was really happening around them. It had been a fascinating novel, based on true facts. David would have been in a similar situation because he explained how his wife had gradually worn down his friendships as well as his relationships with close relatives. He had become increasingly isolated and, through his participation, had even encouraged the further break-down of his already very low self-esteem. The fact that many of his friends had not spoken to him since would have to have something to do with it, I concluded.
I now also understood why his parents had shown some reluctance towards me during our first encounter, just prior to our holiday. I only wished I had known a bit more then. Their attitude had almost been one of embarrassment. I felt increasingly torn between wanting to believe David, especially since he’d opened his heart to me, but equally so, as a woman, I couldn’t help secretly having some sympathy for Leo’s mother, who I understood had given up her own child.
Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/u/49P2MJ
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
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