Domestic abuse often follows a pattern of behaviour. I am going to identify the general evolution of domestic abuse in this blog post:
Stereotypical cases of domestic abuse involve well-documented quarrels and threats, constant belittling and complete financial and emotional control. Currently the statistics suggest that women are frequently the victims but men being vistims of domestic abuse (especially emotional and verbal abuse( is growing.
Romantic gestures – on best behaviour
Initially, you will be bombarded with compliments and feel as if you are the most loved person on the planet. They are incredibly good at charming you and getting you emotionally hooked on them quite quickly. They somehow have a sixth sense for sensing emotionally needy or impressionable people. They steer cleer of strong opinionated people (in general) as they can be more difficult to manipulate. Falling under the spell of an abuser has nothing to do with your socio-economic bracket nor your intelligence. They are adept at idenitfying people needing love and affection and possibly reassurance. People with low self esteem are also great targets for them.
You might get loads of gifts, flowers and other offerings of affection to pull you in. Most of us want to feel loved and adored and it can be addictive when someone treats us so well. The thing is, the average man or woman wouldn’t be able to keep up this impeccable behaviour indefinitely. Someone who is too smooth and charming should make you wary. They may psuh for you to move in quickly or even propose quite quickly. Of course, not every person who does this is abusive – but it can be the start of worse things to come. If it’s going to work, it will work – there is no need to rush.
The emotional hook
Once you are emotionally hooked on them they can start to relax as they know that you are more easily controlled when you are emotionally attached to them. Once they can see that they have your heart, the suble criticism and insults might start. “Why are you doing it that way”, “Why do you want to go out instead of staying with me?” They will start the manipulation. under the guise of how much they love you. Emotionally abusive individuals are all about control. They will start to isolate you from friends who they see as a threat as well as from family members if they feel these individuals have an influence over you. This isolation is part of their plan to exert even more control over you. It will be mostly subtle though. They will pay on your emotions, use emotional blackmail and get you to question yourself. They will abuse you but will invoke self doubt in you. You may feel something is ‘off’ but then wonder if it just your imagination or perhaps it is your fault somehow for the way they are behaving. NEVER believe this nonsense, we are all 100% responsible for our own behaviour.
This includes belittling you and crticising you. It can vary but it’s often around what you are wearing, how you cook or how you clean the house. It can be as petty as packing the dishwasher incorrectly. You will begin to feel as if you can’t ever do anything right. Most abusers are incredibly insecure within themselves and it helps to empower them by putting others down. They may also be sarcastic about the way you sit, speak, stand…just about anything is open to criticism. This slow chipping away at your confidence will take it’s toll over time.
This is where an abuser leads you to doubt your version of reality. The severe abusers do it deliberately. I once had a client who thought she was going crazy because he would often tell her that he had already told her something when she couldn;t remember it. He then started moving things and then returning them saying they had been there the whole time – like her car keys. In the end she began to seriouslt doubt herself and became very depressed. She eventually installed a secret camera and caught him moving things when she wasn’t looking. Thankfully this prompted her to finally divorce him.
Abusers will make you feel like you are going crazy, they will increase your self doubt and reduce your self confidence. You are easier to control and manipulate this way.
Control and jealousy
Domestic abuse also involves feeling yuo have to ask permission to do things and worrying constantly about how your partner will react – this isn’t normal. You should never feel afraid of your partner. Part of their control may involves keeping a tight rein on the finances. This also is unacceptable. If you are to be seen as equals you should have a joint account at the very least. Someone who tries to isolate you from friends and family does not have your best interests at heart either.
We can often be clouded in our judgement when we love someone but please listen to your gut feeling. I was in an abusive relations many years ago and my instincts told me things were no right but I found it hard to leave as I was filled with self doubt and I loved the guy. Eventually I saw through him and realised he was a classic narcissist. He only ever did good if it would make him look good and was constantly criticising me.
Many abusers are quite clever- they will never say outright, “No you may not do that” but they will try emotional blackmail and try to make you feel guilty. This is manipulation – plain and simple.
Speak to someone, get help. Sometimes we need an objective person to help us see that we aren’t crazy and that we are living a nightmare with constant verbal and emotional abuse. The best you can do is get yourself out of there as soon as possible. Your future self will thank you for it.
Real stories of domestic abuse: