Controlling Relationships

I’m back!

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged because I took time off to complete a book on controlling relationships. My tentative title (since editors often change them) is “Controlling Relationships: the Elephant in Our Society.” I’ll let you know when it’s published.

I chose this title because control is often invisible to those who don’t experience it. It’s like the elephant in the room that no one sees. This leaves its victims trapped in an emotional mire of:

  • crazy,
  • confused,
  • angry,
  • hopeless, and/or
  • disappointed.

It’s hard enough to deal with a controlling person. Having to fight to be understood or be taken seriously requires additional energy. An important rule is to BELIEVE people when they identify abusive behavior. Listening to them is the greatest gift you can give, one that helps them figure out what they need to do. They don’t want you to fix it for them.

Victims often feel shame and embarrassment because of how they are treated. It is human nature to ask ourselves, “Did I do something to deserve this?” Controllers eagerly reply “yes” in so many words. They generally deny responsibility for what they do. Their blaming words frequently echo in survivors’ heads.

When others ask questions like,

“What did you do?”

it simply reinforces the idea they must have done something to deserve it. The implication is that people have to do something to provoke abuse. It doesn’t matter what they did. No one deserves abuse. We all have choices about how to respond even when people are jerks to us.

I can promise you that any type of question like the above will shut victims down:

  • either into shame because one more person blames,
  • or into anger, a healthier response because it means they know they aren’t responsible for abuse.

The other frequent question that elicits shame is:

Why don’t you (leave, quit, end) the relationship?

That question is filled with judgment. And it indicates ignorance of control dynamics. If you listen and support, you’ll learn soon enough how hard it is to get out of a controlling relationship.

This is the first in a series on various types of controlling relationships:

  • Intimate partner
  • Work place control (mobbing)
  • Professionals
  • Parents and other family members
  • Friends

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