Controlling Partners Use Psychological Abuse
Important research reveals that psychological abuse may affect women’s overall psychological well being to the same extent as physical abuse, and may actually be predictive of physical violence.
Psychological abuse seriously endangers women (and men), yet it is the aspect of domestic violence that remains the most elusive. Often I hear, “It can’t be that bad. She was never hit.” Or, “I’ve never been hit. He’s just not nice to me. Perhaps, I’m making too much of it.” If you’ve heard this or believe this, now is the time to understand this is absolutely not true. Physical abuse and threats are legally defined as criminal and labeled “domestic violence.” When physical violence and threats are not present, the conclusion, although false, is that no abuse is taking place. Clearly, physical violence gets our attention. However, you need to know psychological abuse is the rest of the abuse story.
Whether your partner uses physical abuse or psychological abuse, his mission is the same. He is out to gain power and control over you. As our society becomes more educated and intolerant of physical abuse, controlling partners can use psychological abuse and claim, “I’ve never hit her.” And “I’m not abusive.” Dominating you is a controlling partner’s driving interest, and he can accomplish that without physical violence. Since psychological abuse is not illegal US, women can only rely on themselves for protection.
How do women like you find out they need help? Some begin by focusing on the feeling of being controlled. Take a moment: Do you feel controlled by your partner? Do you feel worse about yourself now, than before your relationship started? When you tune into “being controlled” and bring what you feel to consciousness, you may start to become aware of the impact of your partner’s behavior as well as how long he’s been influencing and limiting how you think and act.
Eye-opening, supportive, comforting, educational. Hearing people’s stories helped me to relate and not feel so alone or ashamed. I especially enjoyed the check-ins, giving and getting information, support and guidance. Carol—you are a very compassionate therapist!