“I’m offering ‘such and such,’ and if you do not accept my offer…I’ll just continue offering it to you until you do.” Sound familiar?
Some people think domestic abuse is about the mean things people do to you. They believe it is all about the hitting, slapping and name-calling. But that is the icing on the cake… That is the outward manifestation of one’s effort to regain control felt-to-be lost.
The example interaction opening this article is the more subtle underlying interaction dynamic of an abusive relationship. Essentially, it is one person ignoring the preferences of another.
It is one person insisting that they know more about what’s best for you than you do. It’s one person refusing to honor the other person’s wishes and needs.
Abusive Interaction and Lack of Honor
Abusive relationships are fertile ground for a void in the honoring of and regard for the expressed needs and preference of the un-empowered partner. Eventually, this person simply stops expressing their desires so as to hold conflict at bay. But what ends up happening is that the conflict erupts from the inside out until it climaxes into a domestic assault.
It doesn’t matter what the context is or how outwardly kind the gesture may appear, because this interaction dynamic has absolutely nothing to do with the gesture itself. It’s all about the refusal to honor the wishes of the other person.
Why No Isn’t a No in Abusive Relationships
The expressed “no” in an abusive relationship is not received as an answer. Instead, it is an invitation to continue proposing the offer.
It becomes a challenge to convert the “no” into a “yes” out from which is satisfying conquest and control by the over-powering partner.
There is no giving in this interaction; there is only surrender and loss. The “receiving” person loses far more than can be gained…no matter what is given.
Take Lynn for example. Her husband wants her to join him on a cruise vacation. It seems like such a lovely gesture until she throws up at sea. Lynn has had problems sleeping on ocean water since she was a little girl.
But her husband assures her that this time he holds the answer to her seasickness. All she needs to do is trust that their journey will be satisfying, so he believes.
Lynn’s resistance to accept the cruise offer becomes the platform for discord around her love for her “giving” husband. And before you know it, these two people are fighting about who loves whom.
However, it’s not about love; it is about honor and respect. In abusive relationships, this translates into compliance and submission. If these dynamics resonate with you in relation to your spouse, take a hard look at power and control tactics in abusive relationships.
For more information about abusive relationships, visit http://www.enddomesticabuse.org/controlling_relationship.php and claim Free Instant Access the 7 Realities of Verbal Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from legal domestic abuse.
© Dr. Jeanne King, PhD. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention