There’s greater risk for harm when confined with an abusive partner.
During this period of the pandemic, being required to be home 24/7 can feel like a life sentence rather than life-saving when you’re confined with an abusive intimate partner.
We know times of great stress, such as loss of employment or financial difficulties, can escalate abusive behavior. For those targeted for abuse, a routine of work or school formerly helped to manage the stress of home life. During this uncertain time, those living with an abusive partner need strategies and useful resources.
Intimate partner abuse is solely for the purpose of one partner to overpower and control the other. Chiefly, psychological and emotional attacks target a partner’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Unlike physical abuse, psychological abuse is hard to see, because it happens with words and demeanor, without physical contact—yet the psychological harm it causes requires us to take it seriously.
Taylor, a research scientist and author of Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, explains that when an individual uses abusive tactics within a basic social structure, such as a couple or a family, it is possible to gain power. When this occurs, it is one of the most intense and damaging experiences for those involved (2004).
According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey in the U.S., researchers identified for men and women the frequency of psychological aggression, which included expressive aggression and coercive control.
Examples of expressive aggression are acting in a way that seems dangerous; recipients of abuse are told they’re a failure, a loser, not good enough, called names such as fat, ugly, stupid, and humiliated and made fun of.
Examples in the report of coercive control included keeping them from talking to family or friends, making decisions that should have been theirs to make, being kept track of by demanding to know where they were and what they were doing, and keeping them from leaving the house when they wanted to go.
Of women, 48.4 percent have experienced at least one form of psychological aggression in their lifetime.
- 4 in 10 reported expressive aggression.
- 41 percent reported some form of coercive control.
- Of men, 48.8 percent have experienced at least one form of psychological aggression in their lifetime.
- 32 percent reported expressive aggression and coercive control.
A Powerful Coercive Tactic: Isolation
Isolation is one of many well-known coercive tactics that make up psychological abuse for the purpose of controlling an intimate partner. Isolation makes a person more vulnerable to other coercive tactics used by a partner, such as being gaslighted, intimidated, verbally threatened, criticized, demeaned, humiliated, intentionally made to feel fearful with angry outbursts and gestures, and having their intentions and strengths undermined. In fact, the more isolated a person is, the more dependent they can become on the very person who does not have their best interest at heart.