Women, who get into these psychologically abusive relationships, tend to think that there’s something wrong with them and that they are the reason he does the things he does. This stems from them being in these types of relationships for almost all of their lives, beginning in childhood. It’s entirely possible for them not to understand the true meaning of friendship and love because of the confused messages they received growing up. Some women will lash out, excuse and even justify the bad behavior when those closest to them point it out.
As much as you care about your friend or family member, your opinion, generally speaking, holds no weight and unless they’ve reached the point where they seek out help, time is what has to be given. This makes it so hard to try and help them. The problem with giving time is that more they are in that situation, the more they are abused. This creates a barrier that becomes harder and harder to break through. The abusers’ desire is to get you and anyone else that cares out of the picture since you can see right through him and it leaves your person alone and vulnerable.
Case in point: A woman is in a 3 month long relationship. She has some doubts about him, but is willing to look the other way when obvious wrongs are done against her and others around her. She’d rather be “taken care of” or married, than to run him off. He talks a big game, has money and has been telling her that he’s going to marry her since almost the beginning of the relationship. Every other week, he threatens to leave her and tells her that the relationship is over.
He subtlety ridicules her and denigrates her about her past and about how she raises her children. Further warnings come when he wants to take sentimental, very large, hard to move items from her home to “repair them” and instead of returning them to her house, will have them taken to his. This now gives him leverage over her and she may not even realize that it’s being done. The way she sees this, is that he’s doing something nice or sweet instead of, based on the short history, doing something manipulative. What’s even more unfortunate about this is that he also has a recent violent past that she has dismissed because she chose to believe his story instead of any other possibility.
The friends and family aren’t quite sure what they can do because every discussion on the topic leads to his ideas being reinforced. This happens because she tells him about all of the conversations. After all, there shouldn’t be any secrets, right? The more they try to help, the louder, more threatening and abusive his protests and actions become, which could possibly put her into physical danger.
How to face this
- The controller steals the victim’s self-determination, her sense of integrity, her self-worth. It is important for any support person not to try to control her decisions too. If you are a support person – the following messages are for you…
- No one deserves to be victimized by a perpetrator of one-sided power and control
- One-sided power and control is aimed at confusing the victim
- The more confused the victim becomes, the more successful the perpetrator is in trapping the victim in their web
- The victim is not to blame
- Until the perpetrator of one-sided power and control admits to, and takes responsibility for their behaviors, it is impossible for a victim to feel they have any effect in trying to resolve the problem
- Any decisions the victim, or support person, makes should help enhance safety (psychological and physical) for the victim
It’s fairly clear that this is bigger than the average person to assist with and entering a support group yourself, may actually give you some insight as to how you can help them. Most all recovery treatment facilities or groups, they always encourage friends and family to participate in the process at some point.
As with most things in life, they have to want to change, but what if they can’t? I wish that there was an easy answer to this question, but there isn’t. I will add this; it is usually easier to fix the individual problem if caught early on, but not the underlying cause. This is where professional help is necessary.