This article originally appeared on Psychology Today.
In my clinical practice, the day after the election, I met with a 36-year-old mother who cried and said, “I’m trying to get out of an abusive situation and society tolerates this?” She is one of many women with controlling partners I’ve heard from who feel deeply bothered by Donald Trump’s talking, behaving, and posturing where women are concerned. For over two decades, I’ve helped many women see the harmful coercive tactics embedded in their partner’s behaviors that cause them confusion, fear, and self-doubt. Throughout this intense campaign period, I saw many of the same hurtful tactics on display in Trump’s behavior. What became evident is that the very same coercive tactics used to gain power over an intimate partner, might be just as effective, given the right circumstances, to win over a mass of people.
Just because Trump won, that doesn’t validate the actions of controlling or abusive partners. Rather, it is an opportunity to learn about coercion from his public behavior that makes up psychological manipulation, and why we need to see such behavior as unacceptable or even outlaw it, as has been done in the United Kingdom.