Have you ever witnessed an abusive relationship and wondered how the abuser gains so much control over the victim? The control and abuse sneak up on the victim. They aren’t apparent, they appear slowly, in ways that don’t allow a victim to recognize what is happening. Often an abuse victim begins a relationship feeling needed and strong. The abuser actually appears to need the victim, because they lack the strength to live separately.
In a simple dynamic, the abuser may be temporarily out of work, but have skills and abilities that are obvious. The abuser may appear to need some help just getting back on their feet from an injury or former relationship. An abuser will be tentative and strong in the eyes of the victim, except for this one small ‘area’ where they need some assistance. The victim steps up and reaches out a helping hand, without realizing they’ve just been ‘captured’.
The abuser shows appreciation, affection, and a giving nature in the early stages. As the victim allows an abuser more fully to become involved in their lives and living situation, the abuser becomes manipulative and possessive.
“I just don’t want to share you. I love you so much I want to spend all our time together.” and the abuser has gained a stronghold.
Slowly, other friendships and relationships erode and the victim relies fully on the abuser for clarity, political views, and other life choices. No other input is required, the abuser had taken over influencing the victim.
“Honey, I’m only telling you to lose weight because I care about how you look.” An abuser comments over dinner. “Are you really going to eat that? You’ve gained a lot of weight recently.”
Suddenly, the victim no longer controls how much food is necessary. The abuser inflicts opinion even over that basic part of life.
“That shirt makes you look old, I’d rather you wore the red one I bought you.” And the choice of what to wear even sinks into Neverland, because the abuser has taken over that choice too.
The victim may struggle to maintain some autonomy, but even that will be stolen away slowly, eroded as the abuser degrades and ridicules the victim even more.
Eventually, the abuser has total control. There’s no one else to turn to, and life looses it’s luster.
“You’re so depressed, why don’t you see a Dr. about some meds. They can give you something to help with that depression.” The abuser suggests, and the victim complies.
The abuser may even send flowers, or make flowery comments to encourage the victim at this point, and their efforts are seen as valiant, by the victim. But the lack of autonomy and self respect left in the victim soon take over again and leave them feeling depressed and lonely.
The abuser isn’t pleased by the victim and screams when needs are left unmet, ridiculing the victim even further. The abuser may even strike the victim at this stage.
“You made me do it. You just refuse to do what I tell you to do, and I have to take action. It’s your own fault. If you’d done what I asked you to do, I wouldn’t have had to hit you.” The abuser blames the victim.
The victim at this stage isn’t up to arguing that it isn’t their fault. They just accept the blame as a curse for not being good enough to please their abuser.
What may have begun as the Victim feeling helpful and alive, has ended in defeat at this point.
Are you a victim of this kind of abuse?
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