Abuse in relationships…


A friend recently asked about abuse in relationships, and didn’t know whether they had wandered into abad relationship. So after a discussion with them I pointed out a number of factors that could point to control or manipulation and therefore abuse.

The things discussed I decided I’d share with all, this therefore is the first part of many that I will write about over the next year, it is a personal view and certainly not the be all and end all, so if you find yourself thinking, “am I being controlled” have a read of the articles and if they ring alarm bells with yourself, talk to professional help about how you can get yourself to a better place.

If anyone finds these useful but would like to me to write on a specific topic, feel free to drop me an email here: michelle@shellsshots.com and I will attempt to provide general insight and research on the particular topic. First topic… financial control.

Abuse by Financial Control

The is very easily perpetrated both deliberately and accidentally where one person in a couple earns money and the other does not… e.g. husband and wife.

There are three main types a couple will control finances:

  • All money earned by both parties goes into a ‘joint account’ (and maybe a personal account each that money is shared out into.)
  • All money earned by both parties goes into their own personal account and some of that is shared
  • All money earned by both parties goes into their own personal account and financial responsibilities are shared but no money is shared.

Depending on where in the world you live will depend on whether one is more common than another, and indeed your relationship status (e.g. married or living together) will also have baring on your choice of sharing.

The list should be fairly self explanatory why each is used and how it does, but in the event of it not being quite ‘your fit’ I will explain:

All money earned is shared.

Quite simply all money you and your partner earns will go directly into a joint account, and from there all the bills are paid, shopping and groceries are paid etc. Some couples will also have their own (savings) accounts where a fixed amount (either directly or percentage of earnings) will be transferred out to their own accounts for ‘special items’.. e.g. treats for themselves, birthday presents for their partner, habits (like smoking) etc…

This type of arrangement is the most ideal as it gives full financial freedom to both parties whilst ensuring responsibilities to the household are met.

The two ways these are usually abused:

  • Where one partner will require the statements of the other’s personal account to checkup what money is being spent and where.
  • When the relationship breaks down, and either the account is emptied or frozen by one party to abuse the other.

The second reason given is the most common why people seem not to use joint accounts in this way.

All money is kept separate with a join responsibilities account.

This is the method where your wages/earnings are paid into an account that is your sole responsibility and you have an agreement to pay either a fixed amount or percentage of your earnings into a shared account.

This type of arrangement has a distinct advantage over the ‘All money is shared‘ method in that should things go wrong the other party cannot freeze your access to money. However, it also has the disadvantage that if you are not earning anything, you have no money that is not also shared. Of course it also suffers like all three methods if one partner is demanding details on payments made from personal accounts.

Personally I have had most of my relationships in this type of arrangement, those that weren’t where I was not living with the other person and the relationship had not gotten to the level where finances could be shared. This has been suggested at times that I could be controlling my partner (and indeed in some cases I was, blatantly, but with their full knowledge and reason (which is where I consider it not abuse.))

In my case, my partner was not earning any money and I was putting in a non insignificant amount of money into the joint account for them to take care of responsibilities, like paying for food, petrol, buying clothes etc. The problem for my partner of the time was that there was not enough money to get a lot of clothes, or to buy designer items etc.. I had to point out to them on multiple occasions, that out of my personal account, I was paying the rent/mortgage, car loans, personal loans for joint items, household bills (water/electricity/phone etc) and the actual amount of left over money after putting money into the joint account was less than the money I put in the joint account. This was very controlling and I was constantly aware of it and even though I knew they had the better end of the deal I constantly felt guilty about it. The situation changed after a couple of years as loans got paid off and my partner got work (and therefore started contributing) and the situation ended up with spare money in the joint account and several thousand in savings in each of our personal accounts.

I never ask my partner what they are spending their personal money on, and they never ask what I am spending on either, however, to give an idea of how it works… I smoke and drink, I buy all of my vices from my personal account. I buy presents from my personal account. If I want a new phone or computer I buy it out of my personal account (well not exactly.. but will explain towards the end.) My partner does the same, except they rarely drink and don’t smoke but they do like their designer label clothes, so they buy them from there.. they also want plastic surgery so again, they are saving money to pay for it from there.

Completely separate finances.

This type of financial arrangement is usually what you see at the beginning of any relationship, but often it continues even after marriage. When it is mutual agreement (as in both parties have said, they want it this way, not one wanting it and the other not or being persuaded against it) it is fairly safe from abuse. Like the other two arrangements the classic abuse sign is when one partner will demand the see what the other is spending money on.

It does have an advantage in that at the end of a relationship everything becomes quite easy to separate and its difficult if not impossible to abuse the other by ‘cutting them off from their own money’… however it is also the most easily abused where one partner is working and the other not (regardless of whether the relationship has ended or is ongoing.)

The problem and abuse, quite surprisingly to many, can come from either side of the relationship:

  • The partner not earning can demand, manipulate, control the person earning by constantly playing on the fact they have no money of their own and how they are doing things for their partner all the time. This ‘doing things’ can be anything, like cooking, cleaning, looking after children or even sexual favours.
  • The partner earning can control and manipulate the person not earning into doing things they don’t want/like to do by withholding money unless their wishes are fulfilled (this you, the reader, probably guessed already.)

A note on business accounts.

To add a complication to these seemingly simply ways to abuse are when there is a business account brought into the equation. Business accounts are used for business things (obviously) however in many countries (e.g. Australia) they are also used in a legal tax avoidance method, and illegal if you don’t know the rules. In Australia, there are two main types of business an individual or couple will own, either a straight ‘ABN’ which is basically the same as being self employed, or a ‘ACN’ which is where there is a legal company entity. Any ACN will also have an ABN, an ACN is where the company name is followed by ‘Pty Ltd’ and is similar to the UK where you have ‘limited companies’ these are companies that have been setup with shares and have limited liability, but are privately owned and not on the stock market. ABNs are used more like a ‘trading as’ so the money earned and any liabilities come back to those listed as the owners. Each has its advantage and disadvantage when it comes to tax and responsibilities in regards to those with financial interests… talk to a financial advisor and accountant about what is better/safer for you and your circumstances. However, something to beware of and can result in some extreme forms of abuse is where one of the couple owns the shares in the business and the other does not work for the company but gets tax breaks from it. This is mostly illegal and can result in severe penalties including jail.

For example if one partner has a company car, phone, computers etc and uses them for personal use they have a FBT (Fringe Benefits Tax) liability. It is not uncommon for the abuser to fail to mention it, and then use it as leverage at a later date. Similarly if one spends money from a business account (that are not wages of employees), the law requires the money is viewed as a loan and has to have a specific payment plan with interest specified etc.

The biggest lesson here, and something my accountant warned me of just last week, if your partner gives you a corporate card (credit or debit) you MUST ensure you only use it for things directly related to the company.. and you must be ready to prove it to the tax office. You could end up in court facing fraud and/or embezzlement charges (both of which carry jail time for first offenders) if you cannot. Charges can even be laid if you have used the card for company business if you are not an official employee, though it is rare for this to happen, and usually will only occur when the ‘owner’ says the payment was unauthorised. An example of how you can cross the line is if you own a car dealership, purchasing a camera and computers would be completely expected, however expensing food and travel to locations that don’t relate to the delivery or purchase of a vehicle for the business will be questioned. Similarly running an online business (such as mine) purchasing $2000-3000 worth of designer clothes would probably be ignored the first time as I would need professional clothing for meeting business partners and customers, however if I was doing it every month, I would expect to be audited very quickly. In summary, if you are in a relationship where your partner has a business and you are spending company money, make sure it’s on only company related stuff and you are either a shareholder or employee of the company otherwise you could be in serious trouble when you don’t do as you are told.


The key to knowing whether there is manipulation and therefore abuse when it comes to finances is communication. If one person is controlling the money and examining where it is going, it doesn’t automatically mean there is abuse… especially if the finances are tight. However, if money is plentiful (who has this nowadays?!??!) and a person finds them having the explain every purchase or beg for money its at the other end of the spectrum and most likely abuse. If you communicate with each other and things are explained and you know where and why purchases can and cannot be made then even if money seems ok it maybe your partner is just trying to keep it there.

Stalking, what it is and what it is not…

So many years ago many of you will know I was stalked to the point it affected my mental health and left me in fear of violence being perpetrated against me. Now I recently had someone use the excuse “I didn’t want to be accused of stalking you” as a reason not to communicate, and then later actually partake in stalker like behaviour (jury is out if they will actually move to stalk me.) So I thought I’d write this post about what stalking actually is and isn’t.

First the legal definition:

From https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/crime/domestic_and_family_violence/what_is_stalking

Stalking is a crime. It is an offence under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.  Stalking is defined under this law and includes:

the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity’.

Stalking involves a persistent course of conduct or actions by a person which are intended to maintain contact with or exercise power and control over another person. These actions cause distress, loss of control, fear or harassment to another person and occur more than once.

Stalking can involve threats or sexual innuendo and the stalker generally tries to intimidate or induce fear in the person they are stalking. The person being stalked may only realise they are being stalked once they identify a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents occurring, such as:

  • phone calls
  • text messages
  • messages left on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc.
  • notes left on the their car
  • strange or unwanted gifts left at their home
  • an awareness that they are being followed
  • being continually stared at or gestured to by another person.

The person being stalked can often develop a sense of loss of control over their lives and can be forced into changing their routine and behaviours.

What this means, and cyberstalking.

Basically, in very simple terms, if someone is engaging in following someone either in real life or ‘online’ they are likely to be stalking them… However, doesn’t that mean all our friends are ‘stalkers’ … no obviously it does not, there is the prerequisite to stalking, the stalker must be doing the following without permission. Friends have inferred consent and therefore the any following is not stalking. Similarly if someone follows your public posts on social media or a blog (such as this one) it is not stalking.

What is stalking though is if the person(s) following the posts have been told to stop their actions (very difficult to prove) or if they circumvent access controls to ‘follow‘ posts. This means that if you explicitly block someone on social media, and the person uses a second, unknown to you, account they are guilty of stalking. Similarly if they get a friend, relative or partner to view your posts and then relay the information to the person blocked this is stalking by proxy (legally ‘aiding and abetting an act of stalking‘.)

What stalking isn’t is the act of a person going to a place, social, home or other to communicate with another person, providing:

  • They have not been told previously to stop (i.e. the ‘stalkee’ has told the ‘stalker’, I never want to see/speak/communicate with you again.)
  • They don’t show up in any place where a reasonable person would consider it inappropriate. (e.g.turning up at a work place where they can reasonably visit a home and knock on the door.)
  • They have a reasonable excuse to communicate (e.g. if there is a child involved and some illness or injury has occurred.)
  • Emailing someone about an issue as a preference to seeking them out physically. (Note: emailing someone constantly can be stalking, this comes down to intent and frequency. Legal matters (attempts to resolve) are not stalking, but if you have a lawyer you should let them handle it as any direct contact can have legal implications. Matters about property or children (e.g. where custody is involved) etc are not usually stalking offences unless the ‘stalker’ has been explicitly told to cease contact… Using such an issue such as custody to include another matter such as comments on their personal lives, however are riding a very thin line than can turn either way, especially is the ‘issue’ is frivolous.)

Often issues of stalking come up where two people share the same area and make unwanted contact due to close proximity. This is often seen by the person that thinks they are being stalked as a stalking incident. It often is not… For example, if a couple splits and they both live in the same small town/village, it is quite reasonable to expect that they will be in the same physical location from time to time (e.g. a supermarket) What would be stalking though is if one party moves to another area and travels to the location of the other to visit services (again, e.g. a supermarket) where there are the same services local to them. Similarly if the person that feels they are being stalked changes services used/visited to avoid the other, and the other suddenly also changes to match their habits, this is very much stalking.

A recent issue of stalking…

A recent issue with me shows clear misconception of what constitutes and does not constitute stalking. I recently warned someone, via a third party, if the continue their actions, I would cut all social contact. They continued, I blocked their phone number, I ‘unfriended’ and blocked their social media accounts. They then did not contact me, as any good person wouldn’t, however there was an unresolved issue of property that had to be returned (in both directions.) I initiated email contact, which the resulting conversation was not pleasant to say the least, however it resulted in meeting twice where the second meeting was more level-headed and respectful on both parties. The last of the property (that I care about) was returned and I returned the remaining item that I was unable to locate previously.

The conversation that followed though brought up the comment about stalking. I had told the person that they could have contacted me if they had wished. They indicated they could not have as I had them blocked on all social media and messaging apps (phone SMS). I replied, they could could have emailed, could have knocked on the door of home, or failing wanting to travel the 25 minutes highway drive to my home they could have turned up at a couple of venues they know I frequent at a specific time and day of the week most weeks. They responded that they could not as this would constitute stalking. It would not… A single visit to communicate about the exchange of property is not stalking. In fact, based on their assertion the third-party had not given them the message (which I have since determined is actually a lie), turning up to have a reasonable conversation would not have been an issue as I had no issue with this person. If however, I had at that time or later told the person never to turn up again, any future acts would be actionable with the police.

What is interesting though is after that conversation and matters concluded, the person felt it was a good idea to email me with demands and additional personal comments. This email would not be considered stalking either (I have explicitly told the person until I indicate otherwise they can email me) however the content of said email contained information that would later be confirmed to be an act of stalking.

Their message indicated a ‘friend had forwarded‘ something to them from my social media that they were not happy with. Problem is they have at this point indicated they have a friend that is forwarding posts to them, which is ‘stalking by proxy‘. Further, after checking third-party information I have determined that they viewed the information via social media. As any shared post on social media is not viewable by anyone blocked by the original poster this indicates they have circumvented access controls by creating/using an account unknown to me with the intent of bypassing said controls.

This is both and act of stalking and a violation of the Telecommunications Act.

The stupid part of this is they could have easily turned up at that social place I mentioned earlier in this article to make their demands (which would have been denied as they were unreasonable, I have instead put said reasons in the same place as the original post they have indicated they have also read so they can also read the update) and providing they were respectful and non abusive they would not have been told never to show up again.

Finally, if you are victim of stalking…

Anyone can be a victim of stalking. People who engage in stalking behaviour do not necessarily need to be related to the victim.

If you are a victim of stalking, you need to understand that you are not responsible for the behaviour of the stalker and that you should not be blamed in any way.  If you are a victim of stalking, you should report it to the police so that there can be an investigation.

If you have recently left an abusive relationship, you may be at risk of being stalked and you need to make sure you are aware of what to do if this occurs.

You may be a victim of stalking if someone is:

  • Repeatedly following or spying on you
  • Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
  • Repeatedly sending you unwanted or offensive emails, letters, text messages etc.
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you
  • Vandalising or damaging your property
  • Threatening you or someone close to you
  • Repeated showing up for no legitimate reason at places you go to. For example, the gym, dinner with friends, shopping, movies etc

Stalking is a crime.  It needs to be reported to the police to prevent the offender from committing a more serious crime.

….as yet I have taken no action except to record communication in the event of the person escalating to threatening myself or others…

Gas lighting: The Art of Changing Facts

It’s been a while since I blogged, but a recent experience alerted me to what Gas Lighting actually means, and that over the years I have been subjected to Gas lighting on more than one occasion, though in later years it seems to be getting more and more common.

The official definition is: Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity.

The term “gaslighting” comes from a play and subsequent movie called “Gaslight.” In the movie, the devious husband, played by Charles Boyer, manipulates and torments his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, to convince her she’s going mad. 

Gaslighting, whether intentional or not, is a form of manipulation. Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with bosses, friends, and parents. But one of the most devastating forms of gaslighting is when it occurs in a relationship between a couple.

For me the definition is slightly different, though essentially the same…

Gas lighting: the Art Of changing the facts (literally or by context change) throughout a conversation to support your point of view or “win” an argument….

In all cases it is known as “emotional abuse” (and it doesn’t matter if its deliberate or unintentional… it’s still abuse.)

If you are in a conversation or argument, and you think, “I didn’t say that” or “that’s not what I meant, it’s not the context I used” and you start questioning your own memory and/or sanity, you’re probably the victim of gas lighting…  either that or you are actually going insane… 

Spotting if you’re being gaslit..

You can usually tell which by the fact you start thinking, “I need to record conversations like this in the future” or the person you are conversing with starts “talking” (can be face-to-face or via one of the myriad of “instant” messaging services) really quickly or changing the subject really quickly and not allowing you to go back to what was said to clarify or correct, they may also try and invoke a “guilt trip” to get you to change the conversation into you defending yourself instead of challenging the new facts… It is also common (extremely common) for the abuser to accuse you of gas lighting them, or abusing them, or you are trying to do some form of manipulation on them.

Stopping this emotional abuse…

There are two distinct ways, both can be used, or either, both detailed below.

Getting professional help.

Talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist about your concerns and experiences. They can help you sift through your doubts and fears and understand the realities of what you experienced. You’ll learn how to manage doubts and anxiety and develop coping skills.

Stopping the abuse yourself, if you can.

This is tricky if the other person is your partner as they will still want to control the conversation by making it face to face, but it still can be done with a little thought.

First: Stop the conversation and walk away…

If the person is face to face, do it literally, if they are ‘remote’ hang up the phone, block/mute the person on the text messaging app after telling them to take it to something you can refer back to, either email or an old fashioned pen and paper and write a letter…

What this does is ensure what is “said” can be easily referred to and “quoted” to point out to the abuser that the context or facts are not what they just changed them to, and ultimately show them the actual conversation/facts of what was said.

This is quite easy by email as you just have to ensure all messages you send quote your previous messages *and* theirs..  try to use “inline quoting” rather than reply on top. This makes it clear of the context of your words, what you are replying to (so that the other person cannot engineer a reply and use that reply in a different context.) If the conversation is an argument and you have to resort to written (pen and paper) replies, ensure you quote from previous letters by using, “in your later letter, you said…” and quote the *exact* words they use, because the first thing a gaslighter will do is accuse you of gas lighting them if you miss part of the item you are quoting and they see an opportunity to say, “I didn’t mean that” or “that’s not what I said”.

In all cases, the most important thing is continually fact check yourself, fact check what they said to you by referring back and quoting.

An example from my recent past, an abuser accused me of trying to manipulate their emotions by saying I was dying. To me this was incredulous and highly amusing because had I been face to face with the person, they would have quoted me as saying something slightly different, they would have been very quick to talk over me, and Im certain there would have been a “what ever, but” and the subject would be changed slightly to stop the challenge of the changing of facts.

It was incredulous, because this was a supposed highly intelligent person (who is not afraid of telling you that they are on the ‘spectrum’ and ‘way high IQ’) and they failed to spot I had closed down all methods of communication except email. I had done it quite deliberately after this “friend” had tried to manipulate me, and I had felt manipulated for sometime and after talking to a professional they suggested it… I just couldn’t work out how to do it without letting them know I was on to them… so when an opportunity presented itself I took it with open arms…

The conversation below is limited to just one of the manipulations and gas lighting they tried, because, like the person, the rest of details are now irrelevant (Note: the ‘test’ and “something new” is not the exact word use, as it is purely work related… however the punctuation and “if I pass” is a direct quote.)

It went something like this…

I said I was “taking a test, and if I pass, I’d be doing something new”… the reply came back a while later that I had tried manipulate their emotions by saying I was dying…

The reply came back: “Even now, you continue to bait and manipulate me IE: talking about you dying and moving.”

Classic example of what an emotional abuser will do, accuse you of doing the very thing they are doing to you… so my reply went back asking what the f*** they were talking about “dying and moving”…?

The response was swift and as I had already guessed, a classic example… it was this…

“You did mention moving and dying. Don’t be stupid and read over your own emails. “***** address is changing in three months” “if I pass” etc etc etc. it’s there in black and white. YOU fucking said that shit TODAY. “

My reply was as swift, I did debate just not replying, but as I had just proven clearly their abuse and I was never going to even speak to them again… ever… I figured a parting shot from me, can only do good, maybe they’d actually get some professional help (very unlikely, but you never know in the future when they look at how their past relationships with friends, co-workers and even partners ended and are trying to work out why they never last long and all go south, they may remember the email and seek help.)

I quoted the original conversation excerpt in full and replied, “That’s “if I pass the test” you blithering idiot.”… the moving part was something very similar, not going to put it in full here, but I will say, it was about needing paperwork only if moving, which was changed by the abuser into, “you said you were moving” … i hadn’t actually mentioned moving other than in the context, it’s not urgent as only will need it when moving.


To finish, this is just one of the many experiences I have personally had to deal with over the years, at times I have literally thought I was going insane where I thought, “I didn’t say that!”, and “That’s not what I meant”… and I must be an abuser magnet because as you’ll know by my previous posts, over 10 years ago I was severely abused by a pathological narcissist… and I took to actually recording interactions as they were the picture of sweetness outside of the home and absolutely nasty as nasty can be behind closed doors.

I hope this helps you if you are either the abuser or the abused… just don’t do it.. its easy to do unintentionally as it is easy to do deliberately, and as an onlooker you can’t always tell which is which.

EDIT: Last thought….

If you want to determine the difference between an abuser and someone who inadvertently gaslit you… wait for the apology. An abuser will never apologise, and in many times they will accuse you of doing it to them, or even just gas light you about the whole incident. A good person, may or may not apologise because at the time of being caught out, they will likely be upset or angry and it will take time to realise what they did and apologise for it. Many times (with me for sure) by the time the apology is even considered it is way too late to give it with any intention of repairing any damage done. e.g. in the recent case, I don’t expect an apology as I am certain it was deliberate abuse, and if I’m wrong it won’t matter any how. I deliberately left it months before the challenge over the gas lighting, and so by the time they actually work out the truth of their behaviour, they won’t be able to contact me… either from their own embarrassment or the simple fact I will not be contactable other than face to face and if I see them coming I will walk the other way… because by that time they will be persona non grata in my circle.

EDIT(2): An Update… how the abuse can continue…

Surprisingly I got an email (rather than comment) in response to this article on Gas Lighting.

Unsurprisingly it was from the subject of the example demanding the article was to be taken down as it was about them. They supported their argument with the assertion that they have shown it to multiple people who agree it’s about them. Needless to say, I haven’t and won’t respond, the article is about Gas Lighting and not about any individual, and without showing emails and communications with third-parties there is no link to the subject of the example, either inferred or directly… I deliberately did not include details that would point to any individual specifically and out of misplaced respect for them.

That all said, I will now say a few words that will directly address things brought up in the email in a manor which is both anonymising and direct to show how the abuse can continue.

They started by quoting the original email which was the target of the changed context/facts and then continued to state “Both of those could be read as you threatening to harm yourself” … anyone who knows me (like this person alludes to) knows my days of self harm ended in hospital in 1994/5.. but apparently “everyone who’s seen that email agrees” … which unfortunately goes back to the the first part of this update that they are pointing the finger at themselves in respect to any inference that the post is actually targeted at themselves. They then go onto apologise but rather than actually apologise attempt to justify their position by referring to the very far distant past and how they ‘assumed’ it was about suicide. This is a tactic I have seen before in abusive relationships, and indeed non abusive (usually desperate) to try and justify themselves as why they did no wrong and how the target (in this case me) should forgive them for making a mistake. The psychology is quite simple, illicit doubt that there was a deliberate act then canvas guilt that the target got it wrong. This in many ways is similar to the changing of facts in gas lighting, but without speaking to a professional on the subject I cannot conclude whether it is actually just another form or not.

The email continued, and as per the usual tactic of abusers it stated one fact, but in the complete opposite of the actual course of events… Specifically, “you wanted me gone, I went” but as you’ll recall from further up in this article, I specifically cut communication where it was not recorded in a way that could be referred back to. In fact there was no ‘I want you gone’ mentioned anywhere in any communication at all, reality is the person was told (confirmed) that if they didn’t respond to me I would cut all lines of ‘instant’ communication and later consider them persona non grata. They didn’t, so I did. It was not something I wanted but something that was necessary for my own sanity…

…and now for the classic sign of abuse and manipulation…

The email goes on to reminisce on ‘good times’, then switches to a one-liner indicating I am abusing them, and how they are sorry that I am “feeling hurt and upset” (Note: no apology there, it’s trying to turn the entire conversation from their guilt to me being the guilty person.)

They then continue to profess their feelings and how they can’t work out why we’re not friends anymore.. which is quite simply yet another attempt to place the guilt (or loss) they are feeling for what they did on me instead of themselves. They them say about how ‘friends’ are forwarding this post to them, which is no doubt an attempt to deflect from a previous lie where they say they don’t know any of my domains/contact details… (in the unlikely event it’s true… they are not your friends!) They (the abuser), however forgets I have blocked anyone and everyone that knows both myself and them except for one family, who don’t actually know of this blog, let alone knows where to view it or would forward a post.

They also fail to realise I have been manipulated multiple times in the past and with age and time comes knowledge and insight. Those of us who seemingly accept the abuse, quietly and without argument are actually collecting and collating the abuse to be 100% sure before making our move. Sometimes it pays to be quite and listen to what is not said, rather than what is spoken.

The message to them is simple… The world does not revolve around you, this post wasn’t about you, but whilst you’re here… You got what you wanted, you said it yourself. When you’re ready, seek professional help and maybe you’ll realise what you actually did. Don’t leave it too long or you’ll find yourself in the same situation as Donna. That said, I personally expect by the time you do; I am sure I will be long gone as will your husband/employer/partner/whatever… (really I don’t know any more) …. In the event you actually seek help in the next few years, when you feel the time is right, you might want and be able to contact me. However, be warned though, lying is unacceptable, transference of blame/guilt/loss is unacceptable, manipulation is unacceptable, gas lighting is unacceptable, if that is on your mind or you think you can get away with it, don’t even bother… and to be honest, after what you have done, I don’t even know if I will ever want to know you again, let alone be friends… but I guess I’ll find out in the unlikely event you actually get there.

Parting thought: When one is given enough rope, many will hang themselves.

Music for the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elk6NXBHjBg

Social Engineering on Social Networking…

Its been a long while since I’ve posted anything, but in todays news how many of you out there are on Facebook and how many of you like to respond to these little gems:

“Red mushroom burger”

Or perhaps statuses that ask you to cut/paste in your answers:

Thursday Night fun… Six names.

Real Name: Michelle Sullivan

Soap opera name (middle name and street you live on): Isabelle Hemel

Star Wars name (first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of middle, and last 2 of first): Sulisle

Superhero name (colour of shirt and item to your right): Grey mouse

Goth name (Black and pet name): Black Melody Pond

Rapper name (Lil and last thing you ate): Lil mushroom burger

Copy, paste and change if you wish to play too!


Both of these two things together often give enough information to people like me to enable me to steal from you, like stealing your Facebook account or your Hotmail account, or perhaps your iCloud account which then gives me access to your phone, location and photos… Maybe even your bank accounts….

Consider how many sites you visit and put in a load of details to ‘sign up’ and how many of those sites ask for additional security questions incase you forgot your password, then consider how much information you put in your Social Networking accounts that others can view…

One of the favourite questions always used to be ‘What is your mothers maiden name?’, and still is for many banks.  Here’s the problem in a nutshell: many people now have Facebook accounts and the parents of those people usually have Facebook accounts as well and how many of you have seen friends’ parents with names on Facebook such as, “Mary Johnson (nee Knowles)”.  Then how many look at the profile under the ‘About’ and see, “Sister, Dad, Mum” entries… because by default this information is viewable by fiends of friends….

Now taking all that in above along with friends posting “Happy Birthday, 40 today, can’t believe how old we all are now, congrats mate” etc (‘today’ being 24/2/2017) and that the ‘picture questions’ when shared from a page the answers are shared with the people on the page… consider what most people can see about you.  In the example I have written/posted above lets recap:

  • Real Name: Michelle Isabelle Sullivan
  • Date of birth: 24 Feb 1977
  • Favourite Colour: Red
  • My Address: Triq il-Hemel, Swieqi, Malta
  • My pets name: Melody Pond
  • What sort of pet: Cat
  • Mother’s Maiden name: Knowles
  • Brother’s Name: Stephen

Sound familiar?  What a bank might ask you on the phone for ‘confirming your identity’ by any chance?

How did I get all this you might ask… because not all is that obvious, well

“Name” is an easy one, but hey, need to know the full name, so my “Soap Opera name” gave me two details “Isabelle Hemel”, one of which was middle name.  That was verified because we also asked, the “Starwars Name” which use initials from each part of our name.

“Date of Birth”, easy but you might have missed it, I said I got wished a “Happy 40th Birthday” today (and probably got several hundred best wishes) all of which are posted with the permissions of the poster, *NOT* what permissions you have on your ‘Timeline’.  So being that I said “today” is 24th Feb 2017 and I’m getting “Happy 40” wishes that makes my Date of Birth 24 Feb 1977.

“My Favourite colour”, trivial, what was my “wand’s magic name” again? Oh that’s right, “Red mushroom burger“.

Social Engineering tip: ask other irrelevant details with the detail you want, people don’t spot they are giving something away that they might otherwise not, how many of you would answer truthfully if a stranger came up to you in the street and asked you, “What’s your favourite colour, and how old are you?”

“My Address” little more tricky this one, I’m sure you got the first one, my ‘Soap Opera name’ is “Isabelle Hemel but how did I get to “Triq il-Hemel, Swieqi, Malta”..?  Simple take a look at your timeline and look for the location information on most posts, on mine it says, “Swieqi” on a vast number of posts, if you look at Google maps and search for “Hemel Swieqi” that will give you the rest of the address (and even the postal code in many cases.)

How many of you have seen the “What’s your pet’s name?” as a ‘security question’ … well guess what… My “Goth Name” was “Black Melody Pond” and that just gave it to you!  How did I get to the pet being a “cat” though?  Well just go look at my photos, especially for ones with pets in them and you find I own a cat, and it takes very little to tie “Melody” to “a Cat“.

Mother’s Maiden name and Brother’s Name – well I told you that already, it’s on the “About” page of Facebook, not to mention that many people have mums that interact with them on Facebook and usually by sharing posts.  For example, how many of you have photos of you and your mum?  How many of those photos did you “tag” your mum in?

You might be asking, “But what about the ‘Rapper Name’ where does that fit in?” .. well remember what I said about, “ask other irrelevant details”.  It is bogus information, but it makes you feel better about giving me details you wouldn’t normally share…

Some of these details Facebook encourage setting better permissions on, but even with these ‘security checkups’ often the details are already leaked or are available to ‘Friends of Friends’… A study a while ago found most people in the world are 7 people away. What that means is if you go down 5 levels of ‘Friends of Friends’ (ie “Friends of Friends of Friends of Friends of Friends of Friends”) you will be linked to most people in the world

Old School corruption still around in Malta…?

Well all those know me, know I do not have tolerance for Political parties or Political grandstanding however, in the case of the 2013 Maltese Elections it is time I waded in with my 2 cents.  This is not a political statement for either side, because to be honest, if I were voting I wouldn’t vote for either one, both are in it for themselves and not in it for the people as elections really should be.  However, this is about the events (or more specifically one event) surrounding the election which is a clear disgrace…

According to the Maltese Law, 24 hours prior to the opening of the polling booths all campaigning must cease or those responsible will be in breach of the law and subject to arrest.  This applies to all candidates, parties and news media (both the services themselves and journalists.)

This evening, in Malta well know blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was arrested for blogging about the election in her usual, sometimes course, manner.  This in itself is not wrong, and indeed it appears her arrest was made with good reasoning and because it appears she violated the 24 hour law.  What is NOT right and clearly a prejudice either against her, or what she stands for, the the fact that some of the candidates themselves continued their campaigning clear into the 24 hour ‘no campaigning’ period, and no-one else has been arrested.

Lou Bondi, from TVM’s Bondi+ was there at the time of the arrest and the video of the arrest has been uploaded to You Tube here.  Now before any of you the readers get hot under the collar about the police officers involved, please remember they are doing their jobs, they were told to make the arrest.  Instead, focus your attention and appeals on the two following things:

  • First: Who ordered those police to arrest Daphne Caruana Galizia?  
  • Second: Why were others who clearly violated the same laws not arrested?

What follow are screenshots of the Facebook pages of some of the candidates and their delegates, all of which are in violation of the same law.  All of the people posting should be arrested on the same charges as Daphne Caruna Galzia immediately.  If the person ordering the arrest of Daphne Caruana Galizia is not willing to order the arrest of these people, that person should be fired and prosecuted for discrimination in the highest, and investigated for corruption.


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You will note, that there are candidates from both sides of the Election.  All should be arrested for the violation of the 24 hour rule as they are all clearly in breach.


Note: Comments are open, however any political statements for or against any party will be reported as campaign statements or deleted.  I will allow comments about the unbalanced treatment of the parties and journalists involved in this scandalous arrest.

Note 2: Just to be clear, I am in the USA currently, and have no idea of the timezones/timestamps on the Facebook pages, these have been reported as postings within the 24 hour window to me, please excuse and inform me if any are not in fact in the 24 hour window.  Also if there are other examples, please screenshot them and post them to me at michelle@shellsshots.com and I will update this page with them.