Have you heard this before?
"Everyone knew he was bad news but she just didn't see it.""He had to be really stupid to stay with that controlling bitch.""It's her own fault. If she didn't like it, she could just have walked out."
Big debunk: victims of abuse don't 'ask for it' and they're certainly not stupid.
As I said yesterday, abusive partners use control mechanisms that create a kind of mental fog which prevents victims from seeing what's going on.
This is how it works:
#1 You meet someone and they are a romantic dream come true. It's love and care, sweetness and light. They're there for you. You're in LOVE.
#2 You're so in love, that they are all over your life – and you think it's glorious. You text ten times an hour and want it to be more. They collect you from work, call you to make sure you got to the office, and even ask in detail about what you said you had for lunch. You have no time for anyone else.
#3 You mess up. Or there's a misunderstanding. For a moment, all that wonderful LOVE teeters on the brink of disaster. You're panicked, thinking it's all over. But then – RESOLVE! It's so romantic! You talk for hours and hours. They're sorry, they misunderstood or maybe you did something but they forgive you. Who cares what it was really all about? It doesn't matter because you get all that wonderful loving back.
Okay, so here's what's really going on.
Deconstructing the three steps.
Step #1 is about getting you hooked. The idea is planted in your mind that perfection is there. You get a taste of sheer heaven. Step #2 is about getting into your life. It's beyond intrusive but you don't notice because of that love fog. Step #3 is where you are shown the real person. You think you had a fight or misunderstanding but what this really is about is punishment.
What they're doing is this: they're letting you know that perfect love is there IF YOU FOLLOW THE RULES. And this is the kicker: you're so panicked by losing that vision of perfection that it doesn't occur to you to question them. All you can think of is what you might lose.
So, you give in, crawl, do whatever and that's when you are firmly on the hook. What happens next are these two steps:
#4 You cycle through steps #1 to #3 again, and each time you sink in a little deeper. Before you know it, you think you are to blame. You believe they are wonderful but you are just a total screwup. You become anxious, determined to 'do better'.
How do they make you think like that? We'll look into this more closely tomorrow but the basic process runs like this:
#They strip away your self-esteem. Typical methods include, "You're not so smart" and "My last partner was prettier/better than you"
#They isolate you from friends and family. Typical methods include, "Your friends secretly talk about you behind your back" and "You'll have to choose between me and them" Also, if you dare go off and socialise, you get sulked at, are given the silent treatment or subjected to fits of jealous rage. Maybe they text you over and over while you are out too, making sure they ruin your time away.
#They scare you. This involves making you cry if you 'talk back' and throwing fits of temper until you're too scared in case you 'trigger them'. Maybe they don't hit you, but they smash something like a plate or they punch the wall. The message is easy: next time, it might be you. Sometimes it IS you!
Once they have you too scared to speak up, away from people who love you, and doubting yourself, they have total control over you. They maintain that either with those steps or by adding more layers (we'll cover that tomorrow)
But once they have you this point, you get:
Step #5 Trauma bonding. You are so lost that you convince yourself that the other person is the only person in the world who cares. You can't leave because you literally can't imagine being free.
And this is what is difficult to believe if you haven't seen it: abuse makes the victim believe they are helpless. They think that the only person who can 'save' them is their abuser. This is why there is a push now in many countries to make reporting and policing of abuse mandatory. Victims literally have trouble helping themselves.
If this is definitely not you, 💕 But please, if you hear others victim shaming and blaming, speak up! Educate them.
And if you're thinking😱😱 😱and recognise you're in an abusive relationship, listen to me: you are not helpless and you are not alone. Take a breath, and walk out. If you need help or are afraid of physical violence, I have put local help resources below.
TOMORROW: "I'M DESPERATE BUT I CAN'T LEAVE"
A CLOSER LOOK AT CONTROL TACTICS.
NOTE: I'm a counselling psychologist working online via live video conversation over Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime and Messenger video. You can contact me via PM or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the second post in a series of five that look at abusive relationships. Yesterday's post,
For free help, I usually recommend All Women's Action Society (AWAM) as they have counsellors who are about to graduate from their Masters degrees manning their centre. So, you get good help free from people who will very soon be running their own business. MEN: awam will help you too!
Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) are also good.
There are govt services but from what I hear, it can take quite a while to get to see them.
Your governmental department counselling service (it's free!)
Click on GOVERNMENT to find the free services
Visit your District Social Welfare Office: (Office hours only)
Find the address for your state/town at http://www.jkm.gov.my/ and click on Contact Us
There are also resources like Befrienders, religious centres etc that are staffed by volunteers. I no longer suggest those as too many people tell me they can't get through. If that changes, I'll add them back to the list.