Domestic abuse is one of those topics that’s not only dark, but hard to define. Lots of people think it’s all about the hitting, pushing, slapping, yelling, swearing, throwing things about, putting holes in walls and breaking personal property.
Then, there are those who understand that is it more about control. But even with this knowledge, they miss the link between these two conceptualizations and thereby insight into the true essence of what is domestic abuse and how to stop it.
When Does the Abuse Start?
A patient connected the dots in his treatment and the light went on as bright as day when he noted, the abuse started long before the yelling and angry actions. He realized the abuse actually “began” at the moment he was demanding that his partner be something other than what she was being in the moment.
I was so proud of him grasping that insight as it opened the door for the intervention needed. Up until this point, he had believed that the “cure” was in anger management. But when you truly understand the dynamics of domestic abuse, you know anger management misses the boat.
Controlling Other’s Experience
Far too often we see couples lost in the confusion over this very subtle yet significant understanding about intimate partner abuse. It’s not only the hitting, nor is it the pressuring another to do or go as you please. While this is a large part of it, at its core it is more about demanding that she/he be something other than what she/he is in the moment.
It may play out as demanding that your partner eat what you eat, play as you play, have sex the way you insist, think the way you think, and experience the moment as you do…moment to moment. The fundamental feature here is the controlling partner demanding that his/her partner be something other than what they are in the moment.
From the abused partner’s perspective, it may be that you are happy when s/he is happy. Or, you are not happy when s/he is not happy. Or, you are interested in what interests them. Or, you are committed to and invested in what captures your partner. I trust you are seeing the pattern of “controlling other’s experience.”
Domestic Violence and the Absence of Respect
When you look more deeply at these dynamics, you see the failure to respect the other is at the core of domestic abuse. So, you may then ask, what’s the offender’s issue here. Many of these people appear to know the notion of respect and show it in their relationships with other people. But with their domestic partner, it’s a whole different story.
The domestic partner is expected to be, act and think in harmony with themselves…more than what is realistic in a healthy intimate relationship. What we see more often is these people are expecting their partners to be extensions of themselves and in many cases the fundamental support for their ultimate well-being.
As you may notice, these expectations are the basis for inviting co-dependency. The “abused” eventually learns that there is a serious, and often dangerous, price for not being as their partner desires. Eventually, they begin to dodge hurtful violating behavior and play right into the hand of the domestic abuse offender.
If you are recognizing these patterns in your relationship, take a hard and fast look at the dynamics of domestic abuse. For a wealth of information and real-life insights on abusive relationships, visit https://innersanctuaryonline.org and start your Free 7-day trial today. Inner Sanctuary Online is designed to help you with the challenges of abusive relationships, from identifying them to influencing change within them to healing during and after them.
For help with your own relationship, visit https://www.preventabusiverelationships.com/domestic_violence_trt.php
Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention