Is your partner is subtle controller? Does he or she take care of everything, household bills, choosing the new car, buying you clothes and helping you with the weekly shopping and then paying for it? Do you find that you don’t even have to think about holidays or what you do at the weekend? This kind of controlling by taking away your independence, albeit in a very caring manner is one of the most common ways partners gain control. Over time, not only is decision making taken out of your hands, but you lose all ability to make decisions because its so long since you have had to make any.
Think back to the time before you met this person. Were you quite capable of taking care of yourself, managing and making decisions without asking? I bet you were. Now, instead, you question your ability (and perhaps your right) to make decisions without asking first. This subtle taking over, may often go unnoticed until you realise that you have totally lost your confidence. Your partner may seem kind and loving giving you a lift and then picking you up after a night out, but beware, the kindly text to see if your having a nice evening, may be your partner checking up on you.. The need to know where you are going, who you are with and what time your leaving, is all designed so that they know exactly what your doing, when and who you are with. Not,as is suggested to make sure your alright.
Other less subtle controlling involves put-downs, criticising what you say and do, criticising your friends and suggesting you may be better off not seeing them. Criticising what you wear or how you look. Indeed, even telling you what to wear and choosing your clothes for you. This kind of controlling should be alerting you to warning signs.
Controlling behaviour may progress to questioning you on what you spend your money on, perhaps controlling the amount of contact you have with your family, wanting to know where you are and who you are with all the time. Perhaps, you’ve seen signs of jealousy when he or she says they don’t like you talking to members of the opposite sex, perhaps regularly checking your face-book, phone and emails? Attempting to control your activities this way leads to much greater dependence and eroding of independence.
Hazard lights, alerting you to danger should not be ignored. These include playfulness which goes too far, for example being hit or held down so that you feel helpless. Drink or drug use leading to outbursts of anger or violence, breaking your belongings or property, being cruel or harsh to your children and or your pets. Threats of suicide or self-harm. Even if these are followed by apologies and promises to never repeat such behaviour, you must not be taken in and accept what is happening. Remember, the other person needs help as much as you do.
Here is a questionnaire to enable you to audit your relationship.
Answer the following questions for the past six months.
3 = Frequently 2 = Sometimes 1 = Rarely 0 = Never
1. Your partner monitors your time, wanting you to account for every minute of the day.
2. Your partner is suspicious of you and you are accused of having affairs.
3. Your partner is rude to your friends.
4. You are discouraged from having friends.
5. Your partner wants you to account for how you spend your money.
6. Your partner criticises your cooking, your clothes, or your appearance.
7. Your partner has frequent mood changes from very calm to very angry, or vice versa?
8. Your partner interferes with your work or stops you from working?
9. Your partner drinks and readily becomes angry.
10. Your partner pressurises you for sex more often than you would like.
11. Your partner becomes angry if you do not want to have sex.
12. You and your partner frequently quarrel over financial matters.
13. You frequently quarrel over having children or how you raise them.
14. Your partner strikes you with hands or feet, slapping, punching, kicking, etc.
15. Your partner strikes you with objects.
16. Your partner threatens you with an object or weapon.
17. You partner threatens suicide or to kill you.
18. You have had injuries inflicted by your partner such as welts, bruises, etc.
19. Have you needed first-aid for your injuries?
20. Have you needed to seek medical help following injury?
21.You have been hurt sexually by your partner or forced to have sex against your will.
22. Your partner is violent towards the children.
23. Your partner is violent to other people outside of your home or family.
24 Your partner breaks or throws things when angry.
25. Your partner has been in trouble with the police because of their violence.
26. You have called the police or tried to, because you feared violence.
To score your responses add up the points for each question.
0-12 Your relationship is not abusive. 13-34 Your relationship is moderately abusive. 35-92 Your relationship is seriously abusive. 92-120 Your relationship is dangerously abusive.
If you need help contact: 24-hour National Domestic Violence Free-phone Helpline 0808 2000 247
Alternatively you might wish to access confidential counselling. Please contact us on – steveclifford.info
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist