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loweye[1].gif (1325 bytes) Controlling Behaviors

An Awareness List for Abuser and Victim
Excerpted from the MANALIVE List of Controlling Behaviors  

contributed by a discussion list member

"I am posting this article that I found in hopes that it will help others.  It sure helped me be able to see my situation in a more objective light.  Hope it is of help to others."  -Miriam 

"Male role control works by physically, verbally, or emotionally destroying your partner's physical and emotional integrity so that she will be afraid to be herself, will control herself, and therefore be available to be controlled by YOU."  Emotionally controlling behavior is implemented through verbal abuse, body language, and deprivation (withholding). These behaviors are "the way the abuser treats his partner"

Abuse is always about CONTROL.  Whether it is verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or physical abuse, IT IS ABOUT CONTROLLING YOUR PARTNER, subtly or openly. Check yourself out with these controlling behaviors or words:

CONTROLLING HER TIME:  The abuser controls his partner's time by making her wait. He will say he is ready to talk, but will continue doing something else while his partner waits. He will tell her he is ready to go to bed, then make her wait. If she complains of having to wait, he will blame her for "not having enough patience", "I have to wait on you too", or "Do you expect me just to drop everything!"-- thereby blaming her for HIS making her wait. This also commonly occurs when the abuser is called to a meal, family activity, or that everyone else is ready to leave.  If the partner does something while waiting, the abuser will then angrily proclaim that "HE has been waiting on HER". A subtle way of controlling a partner's time is to leave most, if not all, of the work for her to do-then complaining about anything she does for herself, or what she does not get done. Other examples are procrastinating promised work (especially what she is counting on), "watching just one more program" or "playing one more game" (that goes on and on and on), refusing to give a simple and direct answer to concrete and direct questions (Are you going to do this or that. "We'll have to wait and see, I suppose, maybe, what do You think, I didn't know I was supposed to...why don't you figure it out!") The abuser may also control his partner's time by grandstanding. If she tells him she is unhappy about an incident, he will deny it happened, discount her feelings, or accuse her of trying to start a fight. He might also proclaim that "you're causing the problem by bringing it up," "no one else notices," "everyone else does, so why can't I,"  Diverting, countering, blocking, "forgetting," forcing her to explain, making her repeat because the abuser was not listening or paying attention, and "prove it" are also common ways to control the partner's time and energy. It is rare that an abuser will be willing to discuss or negotiate HIS plan-to do so would be giving up control. This type of control is two-fold: Control her time in some way, any way, then blame HER for it.

CONTROLLING HER MATERIAL RESOURCES: The verbal abuser may control one or all of his partner's material resources by WITHHOLDING information as well as by withholding work which he has promised to do, often by "forgetting",  "I don't know how", or "I didn't know I had to". Another common practice of the abuser is to withhold needed money, then compound the abuse by forcing her to act on her own, beg, plead, or do without. He then begins blaming his withholding on her acting on her own, begging, pleading, or "trying to be a martyr."  In more severe cases, the controlling abuser will keep money from his wife that is necessary for her survival and that of their family (whether it is the promised food budget money or his entire salary).  He gives no thought to "spending his own money," or what his control and selfishness is doing to his wife and family who are either deprived of necessities or working desperately to support themselves while HE feels in control and free!

CONTROLLING WITH BODY LANGUAGE AND GESTURES:  The verbal abuser uses body language to control his partner, just as he uses words. The words and gestures often go together.  This can be seen as using HIMSELF to control his partner.  Following are some hurtful and intimidating ways of controlling that are forms of withholding and abusive anger:

Sulking
Stomping out
Refusing to talk
Walking away
Refusing to give her something
Hitting or kicking something
Refusing to make eye contact
Driving recklessly
Boredom-crossed arms, eyes closed, head down, deep sighs
Withdrawing or withholding affection
Showing disgust-rolled eyes, deep sighs, inappropriate sounds
Strutting and posturing

CONTROLLING BY DEFINING HER REALITY:  This form of control is very oppressive.   When he tells his partner what reality is, he is playing God, he is discounting the partner's experience by defining "THE TRUTH"-which in fact is a LIE.  Some examples: That's not what you said or That's not what I said or That's not what you did or That's not what I did or That's not what happened. That's not what you saw. That's not what you felt. That's not why you did it. I know you better than you know yourself!

CONTROLLING BY MAKING HER RESPONSIBLE: By telling his  partner she is responsible for his behavior, this verbal abuser attempts to avoid all responsibility for his own behavior.  In other words, he avoids accountability by BLAMING.  Examples include:
I did it because you...
You didn't remind me.
You just don't see what I do.
Just show me how
Set a good example

CONTROLLING BY ASSIGNING STATUS: Putting her down, especially on what she does best.
Putting her up, praising or thanking her for trivial things rather than the big things she does, which demeans her talents, time, and energy, while implying she is best suited to do trivial or demeaning tasks.  This category also includes statements such as: That right! You're a woman!! (said with disgust) What makes you think you can do that? I'm the leader, the boss. You're not THAT stupid.  Just THINK about it.  ITS THAT'S SIMPLE.

CONTROLLING BY DIMINISHING YOUR PARTNER:
Belittling
Laughing at or smirking
Offensive jokes
Mimicking your partner
Patronizing
Scornful, disdainful, contemptuous tone of voice
Ignoring, "I'm not listening to you"
Avoiding eye contact, turning away
Expecting partner to talk to you while you're watching TV, reading, game playing
Words like "Sooo" or "So what!" or "That means NOTHING to me" or "Whatever"
Bafflegabbing - talking in ways intended to mislead or baffle your partner
Insulting your partner
Making inappropriate sounds
Making inappropriate facial expressions-rolled eyes, grimaces, deep sighs
Starting a sentence then stating, "Forget it.."
Accusing her of being "controlling", "having to have the last word"

CONTROLLING behaviors such as those above are used by verbal abusers to gain feelings of power and control whenever the suppressed fear and pain in his own life start to "seep out" - terrified of not being in control, terrified of "feeling," terrified of her leaving. Do you have the courage to see yourself as others see you - as your wife and children see you? Do you have the courage to be honest with yourself? If you have seen or heard yourself in the paragraphs above RUN, don't walk to get help. Suggested are the following steps:

Read everything you can about verbal abuse-several times over.
Listen to your partner with an open, accepting mind and feel your pain without shutting down in anger or withdrawal.
Make a list of everything you've ever done that was abusive-ask your partner to review the list.
Ask your partner to remind you every time you say or do something abusive.
Become aware of the effects of verbal abuse on the partner-read about women's experiences, pain, torment, doubt, fear, loss of spirit and self, etc.
Get into a men's group (a domestic violence men's group) to help root out the controlling behaviors and anger and pain.
STOP controlling.
Start feeling your pain.

You must want to change more than you want to control. No one can make you change. But wouldn't you like to know what a REAL relationship is with your partner and your children?  Don't you want to be free of the pain of your life?  IT IS WORTH IT!

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