Dr. Miriam Adahan, July, 2008–07–24

            I happened to be passing by a neighbor's house when I heard a little girl in the back yard saying, "I won't be your friend." There she was, a little girl, around the age of four or five, with hands on her hips, looking defiantly at the other children. "Okay," said one of the other children, handing her the ball, "You can go first." With a triumphant look, the girl bounced happily away.

This child is using the "b'rogez" weapon to gain control over others. These types telling their parents, "If you don't buy me that item, I'll have a tantrum right here in the store." If the parents are too weak to stand up them, they sulk in a grouchy snit until they give in. Eventually, they become the kind of spouse who says, "If you don’t take me on vacation, I won't talk to you." They tell family members, "If you don't come to my simcha, no matter how inconvenient it is for you, I'll be really angry."  They may refuse to talk to their own children if they fail to live up to get top grades or live the lifestyle they have want them to live.  

It is scary to be around a "b'rogez" person, since they have no compunctions about using various forms of emotional blackmail to get others give in to their demands, such as:

·         Ignoring people, making their "victims" feel that they are not even worth being acknowledged or communicated with.

·         Spreading lies to alienate the victim, even excommunicating them from the social group.

·         Threatening to disinherit children who do not visit often enough or do not give the grandchildren the names that they want.

·         Threatening to get sick (or even commit suicide) if their needs are not met

How can you deal with a b'rogez" type?

1. REFUSE TO FEEL GUILTY: One of the main weapons of a b'rogez" person is guilt. They want you to feel guilty for being responsible for their unhappiness, anxiety, serious physical illnesses and heart attacks. According to Rashi (see Vayikra 25:17), unless you have maliciously, with deliberate intent, done something to hurt a person, you are not responsible for their pain. For example, if you are an exhausted working mother, you may not be able to attend everyone's simcha, especially if it means neglecting your children and endangering your health due to lack of sleep. Even if the b'rogez person feels insulted and blames you for their misery, remember: EACH ADULT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS/HER OWN LEVEL OF HAPPINESS. There is no way to please a "b'rogez" person – at least not for long. The more you give in, the more likely they are to make even more ridiculous demands to test your loyalty.   

2. ASSESS THE DAMAGE: Consider how much damage they can really do to you. Let's say that you want to spend Sukkos in your own home, while they keep insisting that you spend the entire holiday with them, "Or else I''ll be b'rogez." If they are paying your rent, you might not be able to refuse, no matter how difficult it is to be with them. After all, b'rogez" types also tend to be very critical. On the other hand, if you can afford to be honest, tell them that you will come for one meal during chol ha'moed – and be there for the shortest time possible.

3. BECOME INDEPENDENT: If you are the child or spouse of a b'rogez" person, you must become more independent. Get a job. Learn to drive. Be too busy to answer phone calls or be available 24/7. B'rogez" types often try to keep their victims dependent so that they will have more control. 

4. CALMLY SET FIRM LIMITS: Figure out precisely what you really do or do not want to do. Then state it calmly, as one of your personal principles. For example, "I will end the conversation if you yell at me (or criticize me)." "I do not talk after 10 p.m. My sleep is very important." "I know everyone in your class has one, but the answer is 'No.' We don't spend money on such luxuries."

5. GIVE UP THE DREAM OF HAVING A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP. A b'rogez" person can give you an expensive gift one day and then turn nasty the next. They can be manipulative, paranoid, possessive and punitive. It is impossible to have a trusting relationship with such a person, because they simply are not trustworthy. Yes, it is terribly lonely, but facing the truth will free you to find your own strengths.

6. KEEP YOUR ANSWERS SHORT: Try to get all answers down to 5 words or less, without explanations, defenses, excuses or justifications. For example:

PROVOCATION: "You haven't called me for over a week." HEALTHY RESPONSE: "I've noticed that."

PROVOCATION: "Why are you sending the children to that school when I told you that you're making a big mistake?" HEALTHY RESPONSE: "I don't know." (Saying that you don't know makes it harder to attack.) 

PROVOCATION: "You should take a second job." HEALTHY RESPONSE: "That's an excellent idea." (You do not have to take their advice; they simply want to be acknowledged!)

PROVOCATION: "You're a fanatic." HEALTHY RESPONSE: "That may be true." (It may be – but it's not their business how you live your life.)

PROVOCATION: "If you don't do what I want, I'll hate you forever."  HEALTHY RESPONSE: "I'm sorry."

            Be strong! Do not give in to the pressure in the hope that you will have a better relationship. The more you give in, the angrier they will become. Have compassion. These people create torment and do not realize or care that they make others miserable. They are lacking emotional intelligence.

[My new survival guide for people in abusive relationships is called FROM VICTIM TO VICTOR. It can be ordered for $15 from the ADAHAN FUND, 2700 W. Chase, Chicago, Il. 60645 or in Israel, 13/5 Uzrad, Jerusalem, 97277. All contributions and proceeds go to impoverished people in Israel, including terror victims and single mothers. I can be reached at or 972-2-5868201. My website, is]

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