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Today I uploaded an extensive list of power and control tactics as used by those men who abuse and control their intimate female partner. (I’ve updated the list as at 8 March 2014 to include cyberbullying and other forms of abuse using technology).

Types of tactics

The following list of tactics of power and control summarises the list that you can view by downloading the pdf document.   I have written a separate blog post explaining each of the following ways men use coercive control against female partners:

Systematic pattern of power and control

As the above list suggests, physical violence is just one tactic among many that some men subject their female partners to. And not all these men use physical violence — ever. Rather they use some, or all, of the above psychological and structural forms of control.

Each behaviour, when looked at separately, could seem justifiable. Each singular behaviour could look like something minor. Each behaviour on its own could appear that the woman provoked it. Just one of these behaviours viewed from the outside — out of context — could appear like he was just having a bad day.

However, look at this short list in its entirety. Now consider this mass of behaviours as a systematic pattern. Also know that women who are subjected to this pattern of abuse and control experience MANY of these tactics — every day, every week, every month, every year — for years and years. Then ask yourself if you think this systematic pattern of power and control is about the man just having a bad day. Or is there a campaign (whether it is conscious or not) to win at all costs and to maintain power and control?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 B August 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I see these things and they do match some losers that I have been with. Ever since – I’ve been single for a long time and it is hard to trust anyone after that. It is very sad that when a good man can’t even get a chance to treat a woman right all because somebody else ruined it for him a long time ago.

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2 MM September 15, 2009 at 9:14 pm

This list is something I have longed to see. Abusers have a list of tactics that seem to come out of a manual for abuse – which is kept hidden from victims! Here’s one more: my ex husband used to make agreements with me in private which he would completely contradict in public. And, being a polite sort, I would not tackle him on it in public but waited until I could do so in private. Alas, it meant that he won. The one time I reacted immediately and said, “Hey, that’s not what we discussed”, he turned on me viciously and said I was going to do what he said. End of discussion. He did that to me in front of his ex-wife and daughter! I was humiliated and angry. Later, in private, he resorted to wheedling to get his way, and promised to make it up to me. From his point of view, the tactic worked – and he did it again and again, over my protests. Finally, I said that if he tried it again, I would humiliate him in public. I wrote down my experience of this pattern, and he acted shocked and replied, “That’s not very flattering”. I noticed he didn’t say it was untrue…

Well, I am a proud woman and his treatment did not go down well. His goal was to charm and be beloved by others, and I was nothing more than his accessory. My needs and feelings simply were not a consideration in his life. His charm was amazing. When I left him, he tried to steal my friends and family. It almost worked on one of them, and I suspect he might have told my cousin something I said to him in private that might hurt her. They are friends these days…

The last straw I think was his more frequent drinking, falling down in the snowbank drunk, at events we both attended. He defended himself by saying, “I was just having fun”, setting me up as the woman who only wanted to spoil his fun. I left, finally, after a winter of that treatment.

I left him without notice. That, somehow, is supposed to be a bad thing. According to some “rules”, leaving is something you’re supposed to discuss, or be declared a coward. This, I think, is important to address.

If I told him I was leaving, I would have to leave on his terms, not mine. For many women who are leaving, this is the most dangerous time, including the possibility of murder. This is not to be underestimated by anyone who might say, “Oh, I know ____, and he would never do that.” The TV image of a woman grabbing a suitcase and hauling it out the door past the guy they’re leaving, who actually gets out of the way and lets her go just because she tells him to – is a fairytale.

So, I left him “for nothing” and was roundly condemned for it. Of course, I knew that would happen due to his charm. That was four years ago. I smile now to think about that, but it still bothers me that he may have influenced my cousin. The fact that he tried to take my friends (the higher status ones) bothered me. He wanted to charm them into his fold. I can do nothing about this. I can only accept it as the price paid to get my life back, and it is painful but still worth it.

No, the guy never beat me. About our relationship, I can say this, “A guy doesn’t have to beat a woman up to beat her down”.

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3 Ruth February 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Whew… this sounds like my brother to a T. Two-faced and trying to win everyone’s favor at my expense (by smearing my reputation).

I think it’s a matter of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. If you HAD discussed it with him (which would have probably consisted of him denying everything and refusing to take responsibility) he would have found some other way to paint you in a bad light.

It’s great that you left. I’m in the process of cutting my brother out of my life as well and, like you, I know there will be a price to pay (people who believe the crap he’s spewing).

I’m reading articles like this to educate myself as much as possible. I want to be able to spot this sort of behaviour a mile away. Thanks for the information Clare.

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4 K April 1, 2011 at 2:51 am

It should be included that physically preventing a person from walking out the door (by blocking the door, restraining them, or carrying them back into the house) is considered domestic violence in some states.

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5 charmaine May 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I should have seen the red flags a long time ago, but ignored them all. My partner always tells me – “It’s not the end of the world”, “I don’t need to listen to you crying”, “I have a lot on my plate” – whenever I try to explain to him when he has hurt my feelings or simply try to communicate with him. I’m scared at times to even ask, or say anything to him, feeling he will be mad at me, and won’t speak to me. Right now, Im so emotionally drained in our relationship, that I’m hating who I am. I have lost myself, and don’t know what to do. To keep myself sane, I do a lot of praying.

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6 sylvie February 16, 2012 at 5:02 am

I hear you, sister. Exhausted and feeling stuck, I do a lot of praying too! Good luck to you in the future. I remember what a teacher once told me: “People will only treat us a certain way if we allow it.” In other words, we need to value ourselves first!

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7 Carol Crawford September 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m a survivor of domestic violence and I can give an example of mental, verbal, or physical abuse for almost each bullet point. My ex continues to deny the abuse. The list is very accurate.

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8 kieran February 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

My boyfriend continues to use every power and coercion technique known to all military personnel as his brother was in the military and learned very confusing, mastermind psychological tactics…he continues to beat me physically using punching, slapping, choking, throwing objects, spitting, pouring water on me then throwing the bottle at my head, publicly humiliating me, in front of his friends, to stop talking back saying ‘nobody wants to listen to me’…ingoring and withholding affection and attention, cheating, lying, manipulating.
Just recently, I called his work and found out he had been calling out because he was busy taking the girl he is cheating on me with, to dinner and out spending money on her. The same night I called him only several seconds after his text message because I was on the side of the road with no gas and needed help. I was only one mile away from his house. He didn’t pick up and refused to give me just ten dollars for gas when he had over $1500 in his pockets and I was broke because I just spent all my 300 dollars to my name on him. He just didn’t ‘feel like helping me’ or lending me a measly ten dollars.
He then turned the whole thing around on me and said I’m cheap and didn’t spend enough money on him and how dare I contact his work…I’m a sneak and I must ‘be hiding something if I’m digging’ then threatened me and is currently using three of the above tactics.
Another time, he punched my in my face and banged my head against the car window, spit on me, slapped my face hard and threw me into the street because I shaved my private area against his wishes. My own privates are not mine, they are his and belong to him, all while he’s cheating on me.
He searches through my phone, intimidates me, spins things around on me, changes the subject and hangs up in the middle of my sentence when he simply ‘doesn’t feel like LISTENING’ to me. I have been physically, mentally, psychologically and sexually as well as financially used and abused for three years and he continues to use marriage over my head, because he’s playing on my emotions and using my heart and mind against me. Everything I’ve ever explained about my past and relationships have been thrown into my face and twisted. He uses this never ending ‘campaign’ of power and control, making me prove myself and jump through constant hoops to benefit him directly and if I go against his wishes, he will somehow twist what I say in such a way that makes me confused and speechless.

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9 Sherry hall September 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

My daughter has this happening to her – but how do you prove it in court. They are going through a divorce and custody battle and live in the same house until the first hearing in two weeks. He has never been physical but degrades her about everything and says stuff in front of her 3 year old son.

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10 lady July 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Have your daughter watch the movie ‘Gaslight’ with Ingrid Bergman. It’s a 1940s b/w movie about psychological abuse. And a classic. She shouldn’t watch it with her husband, but at a friend’s house.

As far as documenting abuse, what I did with my gaslighting ex is . . . I used the Voice Memo on my smartphone. I turned the Sound OFF so he wouldn’t hear the ping when I began recording.

Thankfully I wasn’t married to my abuser, nor did we live together or have children together. When I decided to leave, I did so without warning. Two weeks later I went to my abuser’s house to get a few personal items. My very wise therapist suggested I bring a friend along, so that I wouldn’t be alone with him. I made a detailed list of items I wanted, brought big bags to carry things and we were in-and-out in 4 minutes. He was speechless. And powerless. Perfect.

I would also recommend the book: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It’s about how abusers groom their victims. And also how NOT to live in fear, but to trust your intuition.

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11 IM1229 September 22, 2012 at 3:29 am

As a retired police officer, I know that emotional abuse can be worse than physical, mostly because its harder to prove. But it can be done. Write down things he said and what your response was. Try to avoid saying how it made you feel and focus more on what was said and in what context. A judge can understand that, rather than saying you feel depressed and worthless as a result. That’s pretty much a given. I have been the victim of psychological abuse, so I know its effects. There is great book on Verbal Abuse, I wish I had the book with me. But if you can’t buy one, go to the library or look thru the Internet. You’ll be shocked at what is considered abuse that you probably never thought of, things like getting the “silent treatment” or being the butt of a joke and being told you are too sensitive.

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12 Rachael January 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I have just left my ex who used many of these tactics plus a few different ones. He is now using our children to get to me. I wish I had known or realsied the signs. Now it is just his words against mine. I have been fortunate to get suppport and help from a number of DV services and the police domestic liason officer or I would still be stuck with this man and my children would grow up subjected to his abuse towards me.

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