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When Relationship Abuse Is Hard To Recognize

COERCIVE CONTROL

Signs of coercive control are hard to spot; support and information will help.

Great campaign from @CitizensAdvice

By Lisa Aronson Fontes

Paybacks. Silent Treatment. Isolation. Threats. Humiliation. Sometimes even physical abuse. These are the weapons of coercive control, a strategy used by some people against their intimate partners. A relationship that should involve loving support ends up as a trap designed for domination. Although coercive control can show up in a variety of relationships, the most common is one in which a man uses coercive control against his wife or girlfriend. However, people of any gender and orientation(link is external) can be victims or victimizers.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, verbal and psychological attacks used to control an intimate partner or family member. Without intervention, violence typically escalates in frequency and severity. safehaventc.org:

People subject to coercive control grow anxious and afraid. Coercive control strips away their independence, sense of self, and basic rights, such as the right to make decisions about their own time, friends, and appearance.

Many men who use coercive control also abuse partners physically or sexually, but some use coercive control without physical violence. Outsiders may not be able to see the signs of coercive control in a couple; those who use it are often quite charming.

 (Do you know someone who is being controlled in this way? Do you wonder if your relationship is too controlling? Here’s a checklist(link is external) from my book, Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship(link is external).)

Victims of coercive control often feel like hostages. Over time, being grilled, criticized, stalked, and monitored may seem routine and inescapable. Victims often blame themselves as they feel despairing and disoriented. It’s easy for a person in this position to lose confidence and accept a partner’s view of reality. They may feel confused as they are told again and again that they themselves have triggered their partner’s behaviors by doing something “wrong.” At the same time, to keep the peace, victims may suppress their own desires, silence their voices, and detach from loved ones. Unfortunately, victims often do not see the connection between their partner’s control and their own isolation until time has passed. Losing self-confidence and close relationships at the same time can be paralyzing.

People who get caught in the web of a controlling person are no different from others. They just have the bad luck to become involved with an abuser at a time when they are especially vulnerable. Typically, an abuser will lavish attention on a woman at the beginning of the relationship. Over time, he becomes jealous, monitors her whereabouts, and restricts her interactions with others. His partner thinks the original “helpful man” is the “real” him, and if she does things right, he’ll go back to being wonderful again. At times he may indeed act loving, if this seems like the best way to maintain his control. Loving acts become another controlling tactic.

Once a controlling man has caught a woman in his web, he will do everything he can to prolong the relationship. Sometimes he will threaten, stalk, assault, or even murder her if she leaves or he suspects she’s trying to leave. For this reason, even if there is no physical violence it is important for a person who is being controlled to contact a domestic violence agency and devise a safety plan.

Only a couple of decades ago, society named and recognized the problems of sexual harassment, dating violence, marital rape, and stalking. Coercive control needs to be similarly named and recognized, so we can begin to address it. We all need to learn more, so we can offer the right kinds of support(link is external) and not allow victims to become isolated.

* If you don’t like the word “victim,” feel free to substitute “survivor” or another term that you prefer. 

Interested in learning more? Check out my book, Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship(link is external).

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Hope In Healing

The Bigger Picture

The work of healing, letting go and moving forward is about self love.

It’s about creating a new beginning and the determination to change yourself and change your life. The healing process is hard and painfully slow but eventually you come to the point where you stop focusing on those that have caused you destruction, loss and pain.

People and actions that once consumed your thoughts and mind every minute of everyday now no longer take up so much space.

You feel clearer as the fog and confusion lifts. You can finally see the big picture.

You have had the strength to heal and the courage to completely remove yourself from the toxic people in your life whether they were family or friends. They are now simply part of your past, part of your tragic past but your past, and you are now completely free to create the future you deserve and fill it with healthy people.

After years of isolation you finally start to find like-minded, healthy and truly loving people :o)

You have developed faith, self love, and have hard earned wisdom. You are stronger and can now clearly see your own unique talents. You see that life can be fun, relaxed and joyous, and you become an inspiration for others to heal and grow, even those from your toxic past..

You have learnt how to truly care for yourself, your mind, your body, and your soul, and you fully trust yourself, your instincts and your feelings to know who is safe with your heart and who is not.

You are finally safe.

You know what nurtures your spirit and what or who robs from it and you know how to protect it.

Your depression lifts and your anxiety subsides as you can now envisage a healthy and happy future.

At this point in healing you regain your long lost energy and determination and motivation kicks in.

You deserve that great future and you are now able to positively and consistently work towards it :o)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s hard but never give up.

Every day you are moving forward no matter how slow it seems.

Be gentle on yourself.

Love & baby steps,

SG x

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Self Soothe Box

I found this on ‘Women With PTSD: a safe place’ (*a great FB page to check out.)

On bad days when I feel overwhelmingly low in energy I don’t push myself to do anything. (I’ve already burnt out twice from stress, I’m not going there again!) I always have a long bath, do a short relaxation technique, eat well, drink plenty of water, keep warm, listen to soothing or uplifting music, be compassionate and gentle, have a sleep if need be and think positive thoughts (remaining positive is essential, so is acceptance that you have random bad days). Often I feel pissed off that I’m not functioning when I have things to do, but the more you fight it the worse it gets. When I’m gentle and accepting, usually by lunchtime I’m energized enough to get up and do things again.

I would add to my box – essential oils for the bath, healthy snacks, beautiful body lotion, a favorite film and a beautiful magazine. What do you do on bad days?

Love & baby steps

SG x

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Don’t Forget To Play

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul”

~ Friedrich Froebel

Can you remember what you loved to do as a child? What did you do most days just for fun and play. I was always drawing or colouring in pictures, I loved animals and observing bugs, climbing trees, bike riding, playing the piano, roller and ice skating, playing card games and mah jong with my Nana, she also taught me crafts ~ pottery, embroidery, painting. I loved decorating my bedroom with flowers and treasures. My mother created a very large and beautiful garden and was always creating things to make our home beautiful, and even though there were serious emotional issues in my family they did instill in me a love of creating and personalizing home, of making it a beautiful haven, decorating, styling, big family meals and gatherings and an appreciation for natural and manmade beauty.

What are the things you lose yourself and your time in?

SG x

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Movies ~ ‘The Kid’

If you could talk to the child that you used to be, what advice would you give him?

That question forms the basis of this comic fantasy. Forty-year-old Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) is a wealthy and powerful “image consultant” who has made a career out of telling people how to present themselves. But while he’s a success in business, he’s a failure in life; he’s vain, mean-spirited, and hasn’t been able to hold onto a marriage (or even a pet dog). One day, Russ is startled to meet Rusty (Spencer Breslin), a stocky kid whom he soon realizes is himself at the age of eight, having passed through a wrinkle in time. Young Rusty doesn’t seem much happier than the grown-up Russ, so the older man takes his younger self under his wing and tries to teach him how to avoid the mistakes he’s made, while Rusty encourages Russ to be a more caring human being. Along the way, Russ and Rusty become friends, and realize how much they can learn from each other.