Controlling Relationships
The Choice of Control in Abusive Relationships

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Physical dependence, emotional dependence and financial dependence are characteristics we see in battered women. Physical control, emotional control and financial control are characteristics common to abusive relationships.

When we think of the word dependence, in adult relationships in which both parties are physically healthy, we imply choice. When we think of the word control, we deny the reality of choice and instead claim victimization.

But the fact is that we choose to be controlled, just as we choose our dependencies. In working with battered women, I am keenly aware that they know of the choices they make in their abusive relationships. I certainly did in mine.

Here are some steps you can take toward your independence and self-sufficiency before and during an abusive relationship.

1) Make it a habit to have an activity or handful of activities that you do on your own without requiring the help or assistance of anyone else.

2) Establish and maintain a friendship with an adult outside of your intimate relationship. This can be a family member, a coworker, a parent of your children's friends or a neighbor, physician or hairdresser.

3) Maintain your own money. Even if it is only a small amount, place some funds in an account (saving or storage) that you and only you control.

Now you may think that it is impossible to accomplish the above because your partner does not allow you to have separate funds, your own friends, nor independent personal passions. It is the nature of the beast.

Make it your job early on in your relationship to groom your partner to appreciate the fact that you have money of your own, friends of your own and things you enjoy doing outside of your relationship. The sooner you do this, the less likely you will fall prey to the entrapment of an abusive relationship.

For more information about domestic abuse dynamics, visit and get Free Instant Access to survivor success eInsights. Copyright 2009 Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. 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.