Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Identifying an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Identifying an abusive relationship when there is no physical abuse is very difficult. Too often, we want to see proof of the abuse. Is there any black and blue? A shove, a push? Violent language? When we don’t see anything tangible, we ignore the signs until the abuse becomes the norm of the relationship.

When is the right time to do something? Do we even have the right to interfere when there is no physical abuse? The first time I heard him say, ‘I get the groceries because she doesn’t know what to buy,’ tipped me off to the abuse in the relationship. It wasn’t so much what he said, rather how he said it. After all, I myself like to go grocery shopping with my husband because if I don’t, I get ten calls per aisle on what to buy. Does that mean I’m controlling? I go grocery shopping with my husband because I sure won’t do such a boring task alone. I ask him what he wants and needs. Yes, I laugh and roll my eyes at how he wants to stock up on toothpaste because he’s afraid we’ll run out, but we both have a say in how things are done. I started noticing more and more power and control issues as I got to know this couple more. I kept brushing these thoughts away, after all, I thought, how is it possible that a highly educated person like Mrs. Wilkinson can tolerate abuse. But it is possible, and it is true in this situation. A doctor by education she is oblivious to her abusive relationship.

Domestic violence is a complicated issue, an issue to broach cautiously. I observed this person further, found more clues, then talked to someone Mrs. Wilkinson loves and trusts and can comfortably rely on. Of course, the one statement above made by her husband is not a strong enough reason to assume they have an abusive relationship. There were other very strong indicators like how he had convinced her to stay at home with the kids and be completely financially dependent on him. He gave her an allowance, to which she didn’t even protest. He imposed his will on her with unreasonable requests using manipulation, which again she never did protest or refuse. He controlled the family cell phone plan and refused to get a land line or allow her to make calls after 9pm. There were countless clues, but I had to be sure I was sound and reasonable in my assumptions before I acted. I knew I didn’t have a strong enough relationship with her to approach her personally and being a DV advocate I have to be careful around my own social circle, as people think I am too close and sensitive to the issue.

I used the Power and Control Wheel to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions. Here is what I used as evidence to identify the abuse did exist in the above stated relationship:

Using Economic Abuse:

-         Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
-         Making her ask for money
-         Giving her an allowance
-         Taking her money
-         Not letting her know about or have access to family income

Using Isolation:

-         Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes
-         Limiting her outside involvement
-         Using jealousy to justify actions

Using Emotional Abuse:

-         Putting her down
-         Making her feel bad about herself
-         Calling her names
-         Making her think she’s crazy.
-         Playing mind games
-         Humiliating her
-         Making her feel guilty

Using Male Privilege:

-         Treating her like a servant
-         Making all the big decisions
-         Acting like the “master of the castle”
-         Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Using Children:

-         Making her feel guilty about the children
-         Using the children to relay messages
-         Using visitation to harass her
-         Threatening to take the children away

All of the above can be found in both physically and non-physically abusive relationships. Other parts of the Power and Control Wheel include:

Using Coercion and Threats:

-         Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her
-         Threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare
-         Making her drop charges
-         Making her do illegal things

Using Intimidation:

-         Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
-         Smashing things
-         Destroying her property
-         Abusing pets
-         Displaying weapons

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming:

-         Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously
-         Saying the abuse didn’t happen
-         Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
-         Saying she caused it

If you suspect anyone of being in an abusive relationship take actions to stop the abuse before it escalates. If you’re in an abusive relationship please call the hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE from a safe location and phone.

Power and Control Wheel is available here:


  1. Thank for helping others to recognize non-physical forms of abuse. From what I've read, it's amazing how subtle emotional and psychological abuse can be, yet how damaging.

    Woman to Woman recently published an article you might find interesting. Do follow this link


    Woman to Woman

  2. Nice one! I am so grateful that I found your blog it made me realize how pathetic I was when I used to stick with my abusive bf. Anyways, I just made up my mind and if he will never change I'll surely leave him for my own sake.

  3. I often educated in this way within the youthful years of my daily life and yes it had been all
    about the macho image inside the gym who could grunt the
    loadest haha. 30yrs on and it's only now we're receiving the concept of how issues are
    completed properly to acquire thoroughly clean muscle and power in a quick time with a excellent eating strategy which is the crucial to all education.

    Here is my web-site: gain chest muscle Fast without weights

  4. Females seem to be more cost-free to wear cross-gender clothes
    and also to act outdoors their proven gender role. Contemplate how the media portrays women and men.

    It seems males are either the stereotypical macho guy or
    the bumbling fool. Males are much less free to display their
    emotions. Females can be competent, clever, and athletic.

    Have a look at my blog post :: female mind mastery by kirsten price

  5. I began to get fat loss products 2 months in the past I went to the medical professional for routine checkups me and found higher cholesterol and
    sugar in comparison to prior two months. Can this be for weight reduction.

    Review my blog - Lean Eating Precision Nutrition Reviews

  6. This is truly attention-grabbing, You are an excessively skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look ahead to looking for more of your fantastic submit.

    Also, I have shared your web web site in my social networks

    My weblog; order arrow Sheds

  7. wow, awesome submit. Cool.

    Here is my webpage: foods that Stop Premature ejaculation

  8. My brother recommended I may possibly similar to this
    internet site. He employed to be totally appropriate.
    This publish truly made my working day. You'll be able to not believe just how so much time I'd invested for this info!

    Have a look at my web blog :: gain muscle weight men

  9. There's always some thing new to learn inside the dentistry field. Appreciate all the excellent resources.

    Have a look at my web page; crest teeth whitening strips Printable coupons

  10. Dear mohammad i cn aid u to gain bodyweight too as to get
    the merchandise .pls contact me for support.

    Here is my web-site :: free weight loss calculator spreadsheet

  11. I love it when individuals get together and share thoughts.

    Great blog, keep it up!

    Feel free to surf to my webpage: female mind mastery free

  12. Say, you got a good post.

    Feel free to visit my site ... superman stamina techniques revealed

  13. I am referring specifically towards the US. Inside the
    US, personal colleges are not any far better than community schools.

    The only difference is they do not need to abide by condition
    screening rules and unique education services. It all arrives
    down to the emphasis on education from the dad
    and mom. Because? personal schools price income, these mother
    and father have a tendency to become far more focused on training.
    It's not the school itself.

    Here is my web-site; marcus 60 minute stamina free download

  14. Just Information, I have a new way to earn a lot of money on youtube, read more here