Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 14, 2008 05:46AM

I found this article and thought it might be helpful, as there is this huge component of psychological change, or trance, that many folks who are in, and even many who are out, do not recognize, and end up beating themselves up for not getting out sooner or for "allowing" abuse. The topic of codependency seems to get top billing when and is even sometimes implied as the cause for psychological change, when in fact, many times psych change is the cause for codependency.

Brainwashing: Not just in wartime

Although the concept of "brainwashing" is usually associated with prisoners of war, there are examples in our everyday world, Kidnappings, cults, and domestic violence raise issues about victims and their ability to fight off or recover from brainwashing.

Brainwashing occurs when a person is overwhelmed physically and psychologically while under the control of the aggressor. The victim loses individual responsibility and decision making ability as the aggressor uses subtle or direct force to gain more and more dominance. This can occur quickly when the trauma is severe or surprising, like a kidnapping. The violence occurs and the victim's whole world is turned upside down. Or, brainwashing can take a longer period of time, as in domestic violence, when a wife, over a period of years, gradually comes under the hypnotic power of an abusive husband. (my note - this is what is referred to as "trance" - not the mesmerizing we've seen in silly hypnosis for entertainment, or even the trance we feel while driving - highway hypnosis. This trance is the refers to the psychological changes that occur when we are in a situation and see no way out, can't imagine feeling better, having better circumstances - another way of thinking does not occur, but when cracks start to form, another way seems almost foreign. This is where the messages like, I can't make it financially start to occur).

As with any victimization, the person loses her healthy support system and the reality checks that keep us normal. The victim is so emotionally vulnerable that a deviant can force a new reality. Once in place, the deviant reality is accepted with virtually no dissonance. That is why victims must be deprogrammed out of the reach of the deviant before resuming normal functioning. This healing can take weeks, months or years regardless of whether the victim is kidnapped, in a cult, or a prisoner of war.

The psychological principle that explains a victim's compliance is termed "identification with the aggressor." This means that victims lose so much of their individual identity that they adopt the ways of their captor. This explains how victims seem to support, empathize with, and have difficulty escaping from their captors. Outsiders have questioned this process because it is so hard to grasp the concept of losing one's identity to the point of being enslaved by another.

Please, never second guess a victim who feels she is only able to survive based on getting along with the aggressor. Even a strong, resilient individual can lose it when a captor has tools of violence and control. If you have never been threatened with a weapon, been beat up, or been forced to endure extended time with psychological warfare, you have no right to question a victim or assume that you would have done better.

Victims primarily fear consequences; anything they do may be disagreeable and could worsen the situation. Victims are broken down physically by
1) threats of more violence, and
2) creating physical changes or hardships such as imprisonment or controlling the victim's every move.

Victims are broken psychologically by
1) destroying the victim's sense of well-being and safety, and
2) the aggressor forcing a dogma and new way leaving the victim no chance to dispute it.

Victims also go downhill because of an issue of complicity. They feel some degree of guilt of being at fault for what went wrong. Our culture has promulgated a distorted view that we have more control than we do and that accidents and bad fortune can be rooted in our own inadequacies. Or, that we deserve what we get. Victims often backtrack from feeling bad to that undeserving distortion that they caused the problem. This self-doubt makes it easier for the aggressor to dominate.

Sometimes victims don't know any better. An abused wife may have been set-up early in life by a father being violent to her mother, a sibling, or herself. A victim may have been sheltered in a loving environment growing up and is, therefore, totally shocked when the trauma occurs. This is not to imply that there is anything wrong with a sheltered upbringing; we need genuinely nice people. However, we need to provide proper resources if someone like this is damaged.

Most can fully recover from brainwashing once they are out of the crisis that precipitated it. Life is different, and there may be some residual feelings that intrude once in a while. Every day life must become healthy again, or we have let the perpetrators win.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: maariu ()
Date: January 19, 2008 10:24PM

Thanks. There were some very helpful insights. I agree that it takes years to fully recover. All the survival skills used to survive in a controlling relationship need to be unlearned. One must also beware of being attracted to similar relationships even after the primary abusive relationship has ended. Patricia Evans has several books on coping and surving abuse that have been extremely helpful to me.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: daytripper1964 ()
Date: January 21, 2008 12:31AM

Thank you for the article I could relate to it in many ways. I am growing stronger each day and unlearning many things and formulating my own beliefs it is very exciting and hopeful. The biggest thing right now I am learning is to trust myself.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: freedom fighter ()
Date: January 21, 2008 10:43PM

Very well put. I believe in some cases, such as abusive spouses, the victim becomes addicted to the "But I still love you".

The abuser has the ability to play the good guy, snare a spouse, obviously someone emotionally dependent, then keep a cycle of violence going.

The victim then keeps going back to when they first met-the memory of when he was so kind. "But I still love him". This is the addiction, a psychological dependency, that is so difficult to break. It's like trying to tell an alcoholic to quit drinking when they're not ready to face their issues yet.

We all eventually have to face and take control of our own self. In my experience, long before I ever left the cult, I knew what was happening was wrong. However I didn't have anywhere to go at the age of 15 when I wanted to leave. The cult leader caught wind of me wanting to go and she "reenforced" the brainwashing and simply broke me down a bit more and made me feel pathetic and weak all over again. Still inside I was burning red hot with knowing she was wrong but because of feeling like all that she preached was maybe correct I buckled again and continued on with in the vicious cycle.

It's nearly impossible to break free when that's all you've evr known, but there are other humans living natural loving lives and somewhere down the line usually fate has it that you are given an example of real love. That's where the responsibility comes in where the ultimate choice is to leave the abuser behind, realise you have control and not make any excuses anymore. Otherwise you are just accepting the fate of "But I have no where to go". Suicide in often a result or violence to the abuser.

After all that said, it's almost impossible for some to escape and many don't. For those who don't, let it be an example for those who do escape to keep spredding the truth and giving out encouragement and enlightenment.

An example of trance used by abusive coach
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 21, 2015 09:29PM


"I’ve come to the conclusion that he (Yuri) is a very good psychologist," reflected Kostya.

"He is good at implementing his ideas through speech. He was very good at picking out the moments where you have to pressure a fighter or give him a helping hand. He was very good at maintaining those relations."

Yuri also had a knack for subliminal messages.

"We’d meet up before the training; he says the same thing all over again, five times in a row, then again after training, the same thing again. I was getting brainwashed every time."

This article is long, but it is well worth the time needed to read it.


Coach Cultist

A victim’s tale of MMA and mind control

by Karim Zidan Aug. 20, 2015

Corboy note: One of the most important techniques used by "Yuri" was to alienate his targets from their families and friends.

Yuri and his family then became the targeted person's family -- conning the athletes to believe their success depended on remaining with Yuri's family.


Slowly but surely, Yuri weaved Kostya into his occultist embroidery. He placed the fighter in a debt of gratitude, slowly separated him from his past, and thus cemented Kostya’s unfaltering allegiance.

Kostya’s dad was the first to be cut off. He, after all, controlled the finances.

"At first it was difficult for the trainer to steal all the money because I had a good relationship with my dad. He was my main sponsor, so all his money went to him and we split it amongst ourselves. It was very difficult for the trainer to take all the money."

Ironically, Kostya’s dad initially saw Yuri as a blessing for his son. After all, Kostya was an undefeated fighter with numerous accolades to his name. He was thankful for Yuri’s presence in Kostya’s life.

"My dad was very happy at the beginning for me, because he saw that his son wanted to train a lot and was doing very good for himself. He was successful at fighting."

Yet once the father took too much of an interest in his son’s profession, Yuri’s defenses kicked in and he marked his territory.

"My dad was trying to get involved in the training process. He asked questions about how the training was going? How his son was doing? So Yuri pushed him off and said that it was none of his business. He told him to stay out of it."

Determined to be a part of his son’s life, he backed off and watched in despair as Yuri’s influence slowly devoured his son.

"As my dad said later, that he just missed the moment when I got sucked into all this. He understood that I got sucked into the coach’s family and understood that if he had tried to give his advice to get me out of it, he would be sent away."


By 2005, Gluhov, now 10-0 in his kickboxing career with several more titles to his name, suffered the first loss of his professional career. It came against Eduard Voznovich, whom he had beaten the previous year en route to the inaugural Drake European Championships tournament title.

A chink had finally appeared in Kostya’s armor, and his coach was not pleased about it. Concerned that he may lose his main investment, Yuri plotted to separate Kostya from his family entirely.

Kostya could no longer have any connection to his past.

"Yuri said that, ‘If you are going to continue living with your parents you are not going to be a good fighter,’" Kostya explained. "Not good fighter, not good person"

The following year, Kostya was spending a month at a time away from his biological family. While he expected the change to appease his coach, who had pressured him for years to separate from his family, Yuri viewed it instead as an opportunity to convince Kosyta to sever ties entirely.

Yuri made himself indispensable to Kostya, while simultaneously convincing the heavyweight that everyone else around him was the exact opposite. He presented himself as Kostya’s sure chance at becoming an elite fighter. All he had to do was prove his commitment.

Pressure from Yuri and his family to do drugs.


Yuri’s experimentation did not end with psychedelic substances. He, along with his sons, enjoyed the effects of cannabis. It helped relax the mind and allowed them to comfortably enter a state of shamanism. This was applicable to training sessions as well, as Kostya was pressured often to try out its effects before a workout.

"Yuri’s son used to smoke marijuana and hashish a lot. So a couple of times, he got me to smoke weed before. It just shuts your brain off."

It seemed as though Yuri wanted to use cannabis consumption to allow a fighter to limit his ability to think — to create a machine-like competitor who reacts only to his coach’s immediate commands, both during training as well as the actual fight. And of course, more typically, there’s the fact that many fighters constantly suffer from anxiety, which leads to an overworked mind — not exactly the ideal state to be in before a professional fight, according to Kostya.

"The main idea is for me not to think."

Yet his troubles did not end with marijuana. Conveniently labeled a gateway drug, Yuri was determined to use cannabis as a stepping-stone to other substances that could transform Kostya into what he believed would be a ferocious specimen.

He (Kostya) felt constant pressure from Yuri and his sons. He tried to play dumb and ignore their pleas. Sometimes it was merely pure luck and circumstance that saved him.

"A couple of times they tried to make me do drugs before the fight but I got lucky and it didn’t happen. They basically wanted me to use cocaine as well, but it didn’t work out for some reason."


"He trained four people before me. He did the same thing with those people.

"They were — how you say — hypnotized."

Less than 30 seconds into the conversation, we had already touched on the topic of brainwashing.

"They fell under his influence. Two of those guys are dead now. One of the guys got shot in the 90s during some kind of gang-related stuff. The trainer was also involved in some criminal activities in the 90s, and the student who got shot was involved with that, too, with the trainer. The second guy died because of alcoholism. He was under pressure, just like I was, and he just gave up.

"Two of the other guys who are still alive, one escaped to Canada and the second one is an alcoholic." Gluhov smiles sadly remembering the former cult members.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: Rips ()
Date: February 18, 2016 10:24AM

maariu Wrote:
> Thanks. There were some very helpful insights. I
> agree that it takes years to fully recover. All
> the survival skills used to survive in a
> controlling relationship need to be unlearned. One
> must also beware of being attracted to similar
> relationships even after the primary abusive
> relationship has ended. Patricia Evans has several
> books on coping and surving abuse that have been
> extremely helpful to me.

I totally agreed with you. Everything is depend on us what we are doing and we have to do. Controlling is the first thing that you would have to learn and its all comes from your patients.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: not moses ()
Date: August 19, 2016 11:46AM

Understanding Codependence as "Soft-Core" Cult Dynamics...
...and Cult Dynamics as "Hard-Core" Codependence

An article informed by academic sociology and psychology at...


Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: cryst-oh ()
Date: November 14, 2017 04:48AM

I am quite close to someone who was in an abusive relationship. There are days she still questions if she made the right decision.

She did undergo therapy but she started getting anxiety attacks that she might end up being controlled by her therapist because of how much she was divulging and she felt like she was getting too dependent on the therapist.

How would you deal with that?

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: Whtm ()
Date: December 06, 2018 12:08AM

Ok, I’m new at this and posting publicly is scary because it feels like being vulnerable to so many strangers so please bear with me. I also don’t know where to post and I’m not sure anyone will see this because the last comment was from over a year ago but this category seems to fit best what happened to me. I didn’t even know that what happened to me is related at all to what someone in a cult would experience but apparently there is a relevance. I met someone who was always kind, supportive, etc, but recently discovered that he’d been hypnotizing me for months if not years and I didn’t even know it :((. I only found out because I realized I was missing time and memory and I began having nightmares that finally made me aware of what was happening. Maybe it was my subconscious trying to tell me something? The vague memories I have of the last few encounters are of his anger, and my pain, terror, and fear of death and fear of other things but I’m not sure what. I think I’m just left with feeling fear in general. And as much as I fear this person (and I’ve cut off contact for a while now) I think about him all the time, as if just breathing is a trigger to remember him. I’m scared to go into more detail but I think I’m left feeling like how many of you describe having left a cult. I feel scared of everything and don’t trust anyone, even therapists and I’m not sure if it’s my paranoia or if it’s real. I wasn’t like this before. I actually had a happy life and was enjoying it. My family and close friends don’t even believe I could have been hypnotized without being aware of it and think I’ve lost my mind. Over the summer, when the worst of it was happening (and I don’t even know what “it” was exactly) they said I seemed withdrawn and distracted and stopped returning anyone’s calls. Indeed, I seemed to need his permission to do anything social with anyone else but I stupidly didn’t mind because I just wanted to spend all my time with him and didn’t even want contact with anyone else. I can’t believe how foolish and stupid I was! I should really have known better. Oh, and I didn’t mention it but now I know he was using NLP, not just hypnosis, I’m not sure where one starts and the other begins but he wrote in a wierd way and left out words and didn’t make a lot of sense sometimes and told lots and lots of stories that were confusing and didn’t seem to have endings and if I asked a question to “complete” the story he’d say he’d come back to it and then tell other stories and then answer my question finally but I have no memory of the stories themselves! I literally go into a panic anytime someone starts telling me a story now! Ok, if you can see this thanks for reading. I guess my question is will this get better on its own? Therapists I trust (and whom I knew before) don’t seem to understand what happened to me and I just don’t trust anyone new.

Re: Trance in abusive relationships
Posted by: The Falconer ()
Date: December 06, 2018 11:56AM

"Ok, if you can see this thanks for reading. I guess my question is will this get better on its own? Therapists I trust (and whom I knew before) don’t seem to understand what happened to me and I just don’t trust anyone new."

You are welcome. You're gonna be all right. To answer your question: no, it will not get better on its own. It'll take time and work, in order for you to heal. But you will make it. There are therapists out there who you can trust, and you will find one (or more). Don't give up. Don't be give in to fear. Be brave.

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