Abuse and Control
How to Understand and Transcend the Endless Control in Abusive Relationships
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
People in all phases of an abusive relationship ask the same question, over and over again: “Why does my partner or ex-partner still control me, our children or matters in general?”
For example, in desperation battered women cry out, “My husband is using the court to control me and our children.” And abused men say the same, “She’s using the court to control my life!” They both want to know why.
Abused women in marital therapy reach out wanting to know, “How is it that my husband still goes on a rant when he is not getting his way?” Others know their controlling spouses still control matters via their rant. What concerns these battered women is that they have “been through” couples therapy and their abusive husbands are still control seekers.
Then there are those that are on the other side of divorce, and they recognize that their lives are still being controlled by their ex-partner’s manipulation of visitation, post-divorce custody and his continued use of domestic violence by proxy. Even after the children age out of the system, control seeking and control conquests plague the broken family and run the lives of adult children of domestic violence divorce.
Control in Abusive Relationships
You, too, might ask why? Look closely and consider, what do all of these people have in common? Each and every one of them is dealing with a phase in the life cycle of an abusive relationship. Whether in marriage, divorce proceedings, post-divorce litigation or post domestic violence divorce “closure,” the issue is the same.
The issue is the basic fact that abuse is about control and untreated control dynamics remain intact. Any dysfunctional dynamic will remain intact if nothing comes into play—from the inside of the players—to shift the dynamics.
What I’m saying here is that the abuser will always be an abuser until he/she is not an abuser. And this shift comes about as a result of something that he/she does internally.
The shift does not happen because you tried to change the relationship or you tried to end the relationship. The shift from abuser to non-abuser ONLY happens when the abuser decides to assume a life not governed by controlling others.
Transcending Control in Abusive Relationships
Next time you are feeling the brunt of your partner or ex-partner’s controlling behavior, either directly and/or indirectly, see it for what it is. First, and foremost, recognize that it is not about you. Appreciate that it is the expression of the battering dynamic that has been in play over the life cycle of the relationship.
And unfortunately, for those having children with abusive partners, this “life cycle” lives on beyond your personal relationship with your ex-partner. This life cycle lives on in and through the lives of your children, even after they age out of the system and even after they declare independence.
Remember abuse is truly about control. Intimate partner abusers seek to control those they need to define themselves relative to...which is typically their intimate partners and their children. And this control will be sought until they no longer seek it. If you allow yourself to fully appreciate this, you can come back to your own life and be available to yourself.
For more information about abuse and control, visit http://www.preventabusiverelationships.com/controlling_relationship.php and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.