Being a Resource for Those in Controlling Relationships – Part 2

Any person who is in the middle of controlling relationship can benefit from someone objectively and respectfully talking to them about their options and avenues for safety. The key is objectivity and respect.

You have the possibility of being more objective because you are not emotionally involved. You don’t have a stake in the relationship continuing or not continuing. If you find that you do, then it’s time to stop and examine why you have an agenda. Many family members and friends become understandably afraid for people they care about, and this can lead them to being more directive than is helpful.

Giving respect means not imposing your values or opinions of what should happen on them, but instead providing questions and options that they can use to clarify what is best for them at that given moment. Respectful help giving involves staying away from “should” and “must”. We healthy humans get our backs up when we hear those terms! We cut ourselves out of being a resource for people because they perceive you as telling them what to do or of being critical of them if they don’t follow what you say.

Empowering someone is giving them the tools to figure it out for themselves and respecting their timing. None of us knows fully what is best for another or can choose for another person. 

Remember that it takes time for survivors to work through what is happening to them and make decisions. They may deny what is happening because they are embarassed. They also may not have fully identified what is happening yet.

Offering your observations non-judgmentally is valuable even if they don’t respond right now. This is opening the door and letting them know they aren’t alone. Survivors always remember that first person who reached out to them, even when they don’t seem to be welcoming it at the time.

I work with concerned family members and friends who want guidance in how to respond. Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, Madison WI.’s local agency, also works with concerned others.

Together we can create a community that supports those affected by controlling relationships.



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