Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Elements of Power & Control



The Power and Control Wheel


Using isolation. One of the most effective ways to begin to overpower another person is to keep her from having contact with others. By systematically severing her relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, the batterer insures that his victim has little support. He becomes her only point of reference, thereby defining and controlling her world. Batterers can isolate their partners in a variety of ways, from excessive jealousy to restricting their access to education and jobs or controlling where they go or with whom they spend their time. For women with disabilities, lesbians, older women, immigrant women, or others who are marginalized by mainstream society, isolation takes on an increased potency.

Minimizing, denying, and blaming. Batterers often minimize or deny the abuse, or they blame their partners for provoking it. He may minimize the severity of her injuries, or outright deny that he caused them. Unfortunately, "victim-blaming" is prevalent in our society. Sometimes abusers play mind games with their victims trying to make them feel crazy. Often violent behavior towards women is justified by saying things like "she asked for it" or "she needed to be put back in her place." In so doing, the blame and accountability shifts from the abusive behavior of the batterer to the "weakness" of the victim.

Using children. Using children is yet another way that a batterer can instill feelings of guilt and incompetence in his partner, making her feel like a "bad" mother. Some batterers will force children to turn against their mothers, or will threaten to take the children away if the victim were to try to leave. There is also evidence that in homes where there is abuse towards the mother, there is an increased likelihood of abuse towards the children. Girls whose fathers batter their mothers are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by their fathers than are girls from non-violent homes.

Using male privilege. In our patriarchal society, men are often raised to believe that they have been given the right to be dominating and aggressive. Being "tough" and "in charge" are accepted and expected as part of one´s manhood. It is all too often the case that batterers use this gender imbalance as a justification for violent or controlling behavior.

Using economic abuse. By controlling and limiting a woman´s access to financial means, a batterer can assure that his victim will have limited resources if she has thoughts of leaving. She may have to turn over her paycheck, leave her job, or account for every penny spent. Too often women have to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or being thrust into economic ruin or poverty.

Using coercion and threats. Threats are used to control by creating intense fear that can paralyze the victim's ability to act or keep herself constantly on guard in an effort to protect our lives or well-being. Some common threats are suicide, threats to kill her or the children, threats to damage property, etc. The victim may also be coerced into acting in ways that contradict her values, such as prostitution or fraud.

Using intimidation. Abusers will often commit terrifying acts in order to keep their partner in a state of continuous fear. This may include smashing things, killing pets, harassing friends and family, setting fires, driving recklessly, suicide and homicide. Intimidation periodically reinforced with assault, makes violence a daily part of the victim´s reality and, therefore, makes her easier to control.

Using emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is the most common form of control and can often exist in relationships where there is not physical battering. This includes put-downs, insults to the victim´s intelligence and abilities, name-calling, etc. In so doing, the batterer systematically breaks her spirit and self-esteem. She may begin to feel as if the abuse is her fault or that she must deserve it.

These forms of abuse are used in multiple combinations. Constant violence and criticism leaves women uncertain, humiliated, and much easier to control.

(while this was written in the Male, your abuser may well be Female)

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shared by Barbara at 12:32 AM


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6 Comments:

Preach on!

The more we educate people to see the signs, the less susceptible individuals will be to suffering from emotional abuse!

4:27 PM  

As usual, a spot on look at how abusers control and manipulate their victims. I lived 20 years with it and am just now seeing some of the more subtle ways he used control to keep me right where he wanted me.
Now that he has left and I am free, I am learning how to live again!

10:28 AM  

Yup, that's what he did. Textbook. Geez, he couldn't even show a little creativity.
I am so thankful to be out and away from his evil clutches.

6:16 AM  

Mine was pretty smooth. He allowed the finances to take care of the home/children/etc. But for me personally? I would have to hide the purchase. Be the coupon demon to save up for the purchase. It became worse as time went on. I didn't see the isolation part but it happened--for I blamed myself. I have one person in my life who supports me unconditionally. She unlocked the door to the prison cell that I call my life and opened it. I am awaiting the provisional hearing next week and she will be with me. She would not abandon nor betray. That's all it took, one person that cared for me. That is sticking by me. Thank you D - for being there for me.

9:26 AM  

Better laws and resources need to be put in place to bring awareness and hopefully make escaping an abusive situation more accessible. All of these elements of power and control would be less effective with better awareness.

2:12 AM  

Cycle of abuse: tension, violence, honeymoon. So true and matches my experience. I am a current abused spouse and I have my own cycle which goes: my anger, his violence, my fear / denial. During and after his violence, I feel numb, then fear. While he is in the honeymoon phase of understanding and promises, I retreat into the "safety" of denial. Then as he starts up again with the gaslighting, porn addiction, put downs, verbal abuse, my anger builds. My inner self starts standing up for me and the violence happens. But mostly the violence happens anyway sooner or later.

I've been reading about abusive relationships 4 years now and I'm seeing all the abuse patterns more and more clearly. Denial doesn't happen much for me anymore even when he is in the honeymoon phase. Now I'm hypervigilant. I know he will not change.

The information here is so helpful and validating. But it's also very uncomfortable. I'll keep reading and working to find my way to freedom. I would love to feel safe. 4 years ago I didn't even have the concept of safe. Now when the violence happens, it scares me more than it used to. Maybe because I do not deny what I'm up against.

For awhile, I thought I could "shelter in place." Now I'm not so sure. I really do need to get out. That is huge shift in my thinking. I was deeply into magical thinking and now I see that has no effect on my situation. Learning is tough and brings tough choices. Please pray for me.

9:50 PM  

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