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  • Lyn Reed

When is 'control' abuse?

It is often a good idea to take time out and reflect about the 'power balance' in our relationships.  Many people are in unhappy relationships, but only really become aware of what they can do about their situation through reflection and discussion.

Sometimes people begin to wonder whether their partner's behaviour falls under the category of 'emotional abuse'.   Emotional abuse happens over a period of time.  This is when the perpetrator (often men) emotionally control their victim. A pattern becomes evident and there is an ongoing sense of fear.  Often the abuser wants to frighten their victims and intimidate them.  But when a victim is too fearful to assert themselves they are scared of what the reaction will be - that's a problem.

What could be defined as being 'controlling' behaviour?

- stopping the victim from socialising

- limiting access to family and friends

- monitoring a person via online communication

- threatening to reveal/publish private information

It's often the little things that have a large impact.  The perpetrator may not have physically abused the victim, but she is aware that he would see it as a sign of not loving him and trying to provoke him by not doing what he wants.  Healthy relationships are based on equality. It is important to retain our own identities.  

We all have our own needs.  It is important to respect the needs of others. 

Denial is often another tactic employed by an abuser.   As in: nothing ever happened.

The abuser often projects their denial onto the victim and in turn the victim may start to doubt themselves and become quite confused.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the nice behaviour from the abusive behaviour.  

In a healthy relationship , if we tell the other person we are unhappy or upset, the other person shows concern, but we know we will get over it.  But an abuser will minimise what happens.

The abuser controls in many ways.  Personal attacks hurt and are often designed to emotionally manipulate the victims.

For further help contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline, 0808 2000 247


abusive relationships denial identities domestic violence

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