I have a friend who asked me if she thought her neighbor might be being abused. “She never leaves the house, there are security cameras everywhere. It seems like her kids aren’t allowed to play with anybody. And come to think of it, I hear him yelling alot. Do you think anything is going on?”
Isolating is the most important tactic for an abuser. Less obvious isolation tactics are telling them that their friends and family are bad for them. Telling them that they are better off being at home doing the work that is needed…One tactic a man I know uses is he makes the house a pig sty and doesn’t take care of the kids so she feels like she can never leave. Another popular tactic is rushing your wife/partner when they are outside the house with frequent cell phone calls about “where are you?!”
Abuse isn’t always physical. Sometimes, it is being in a relationship with someone who is sarcastic and hostile about one’s appearance. Sometimes, abuse is how someone is discounted in front of friends or laughed at. Sometimes, abuse is withholding support or trying to make somebody feel bad about stuff they shouldn’t feel bad about. It is complex. But, if you are feeling abused in a relationship, then you probably are.
POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL
There are all kinds of ways partners can abuse each other. I like people to look at the power and control wheel and see if any of those manipulation tactics hold true in their relationship.