Abusive behaviour is not the consequence of an abuser not being able to control themselves. Abusive behaviour is a deliberate and calculated choice made by an abuser in order to control you. There are various tactics abusers adopt in order to manipulate you and exert their power:
- Domination – Abusers need to feel in charge in their relationship. They will make decisions for you and your family, tell you what to do and expect you to obey without question. Quite often your abuser makes you feel like a servant, child or even as his/her possession.
- Humiliation – An abuser will do everything they can to make you feel bad about yourself and defective in some way. After all if you believe that you are worthless and that no-one else will want you (which is often what abusers will tell you) you are less likely to leave. Insults, name calling, shaming and public put-downs are all weapons in the arsenal of an emotional abuser all designed to strip you of your self-esteem and make you feel powerless. The more powerless you feel the greater control the abuser feels.
- Isolation – In order to increase your dependence upon your abuser, they will systematically cut you off from the outside world. He or she may make derogatory comments about your family and friends and even prevent you from going to work or school in order that those relationships are lost to you. In some cases, when the abuser has the upper hand in a relationship, you may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere or see anyone.
- Threats – Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving them or scare them into dropping charges or doing things you don’t want to do. Abusers often threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members or even pets. He or she may also threaten suicide, file false charges against you or report you as a abusive of negligent parent.
- Intimidation – Abusers have a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. These tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets or possibly even putting weapons on display. The clear message they send you by this sort of conduct is that if you don’t obey, there will be consequences.
- Denial and blame – Abusers are very good at making excuses for what is essentially inexcusable conduct. They are expert at deflecting blame for their abusive behaviour on a bad day, a bad upbringing, even on the victim of the abuse. The abusive partner will always minimise abuse or deny that it has occurred and he or she will commonly shift responsibility to the victim. Somehow, their violent or abusive behaviour becomes the victim’s fault.
Repeat after me: You are not responsible for Domestic Violence…Violent and abusive behaviour is the abuser’s choice.
Please feel to contact Kathy Matri if you have any questions arising from this article or any other family law matter on (02) 4322 0251.