Often times people in abusive relationships know something is not right, but have a difficult time identifying the specific dynamics in play. One feels violated, yet the actual violation remains blurred amidst the stress and strain of the conflict that they live with their abusive controlling partner.
In many cases, they may not even recognize their partner as being a perpetrator of domestic abuse. Moreover, the battering partner (male or female) doesn’t see it either. They don’t envision themselves as a domestic violence offender. You may think this is because of denial; however, it may also be about ignorance.
Domestic violence is commonly thought of as the black and blue…the push, the shove, the hit, punch, scratch, slap…whatever marking remains to tell that something “physical” happened. Or, it might be thought of as the foul language and swear words that dart across the room in the heat of an argument. These verbal assaults, like physical abuse, are concrete.
They are the well known swords of domestic abuse. And believe it or not, these forms of abuse represent only a small portion of the tactics used to establish and maintain an unequal distribution of power and control in an intimate relationship.
Power and Control Wheel
Take a walk with me around the Power and Control Wheel,* and you will see the majority of abusive tactics refer to behaviors that can fall under the radar of people outside of domestic violence circles.
1) Using Intimidation
2) Using Emotional Abuse
3) Using Isolation
4) Minimizing, Denying and Blaming
5) Using Children
6) Using Male Privilege
7) Using Economic Abuse
8) Using Coercion and Threats
For example, the use of “coercion and threats” can be seen as a specific personality style of “determination.” You know what I mean: saying or doing whatever it takes to extract something from you that is not willingly forthcoming. The way this tactic is realized in the relationship is excessive relentless pressure placed upon the victim to bend their will and forcefully yield the perpetrator’s desired outcome.
So whether your partner is telling you that he will find a prostitute to have sex with unless you succumb, or threatening to terminate the relationship unless you do whatever may be demanded (even putting you in harms way), a dynamic is set in play to disempower you. Over time with the use of repeated unrelenting pressure, you come to see that you are not an equal partner in the relationship, and your sense of safety with this person vanishes.
We can progress through the wheel and see the same net result with each and every one of the power and control tactics listed. If you hurt and know you are being violated in your intimate relationship, seek to understand the wisdom in the Power and Control Wheel.
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For help with your own relationship, visit https://innersanctuaryonline.org/spousal-abuse-help/
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