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Tactics

I’ve worked with many women struggling to come to terms with their partner’s abusive behaviours.

Women wonder: “Is he doing this to me on purpose? And if he is knowingly being cruel, neglectful and controlling, then I find that too hard to take, that he would be so calculated in his nastiness to me. I’ve not done anything to create that.”

Women wish: “I’d rather he did not know what he’s doing to me, that it’s unconscious, that he can’t help it, that he’s not intentionally trying to destroy me. I find that notion easier to come to terms with.”

Unfortunately, the reality is that some men do single-mindedly, and very consciously, choose to abuse their partners. As indicated by the man who said:

“I knew I could control every move that she made.”1

Men who use coercive control aim to get their own way and be right at all costs. They may use violence or intimidation to shut her up — make her conform. They have deliberate goals to frighten her. Some men may apologise and show momentary remorse, but they continue to deny causing harm and instead tell her she deserves what she gets.

Some men who purposefully coercively control their partners enjoy it.

A man who was interviewed by Julia Wood said, “I was getting like joy — I see her upset from things I’m saying, I just keep right on bringing it. That was good enough for me. Ain’t no need for me to walk up and hit her.”2

One man that Jeff Hearn interviewed said, “it got so you used to enjoy it. You provoked incidents yourself to justify what you’re doing.”3

Some men warn their partners in advance that if she does not do as she is told she will suffer the consequences.

Here’s a couple of examples:

“I tell her ‘shut-up or just take what comes’.”4

“When I thought I was losing an argument I’d say ‘If you don’t shut up I’m going to hit you’.”3

Yet another man said, “It all depends on the other side. That is, I hit her, let’s say I give her a slap, she’ll be safer if she moves to the other room. If she does that, it all ends well.”5

High numbers of men interviewed about their abuse towards their partners have confessed that frightening their partner was a deliberate goal. In fact some men warn their partner that they’ll use violence or some kind of control tactic in the future.6

Unless her abusive partner deliberately, purposefully and systematically takes personal responsibility for his violent and controlling behaviours, women need to do what it takes to protect their own sanity and that of their children’s as well as physical safety and psychological wellbeing.

Life is too short to feel obligated to stay with a controlling partner.

There are too many social messages that encourage victims to stay in relationship with the abuser. There are alternatives. Children flourish better in safe environments. You have permission to leave and be safe. Anyone who moves away from abusive people will survive — and in fact flourish when away from abuse. If you already live with fear on a constant basis — Fear of leaving and setting up a new life is something you can do — Your inner strength is still deep inside you.

References:

  1. Gondolf, Edward W., & Hanneken, James. (1987). The gender warrior: Reformed batterers on abuse, treatment, and change. Journal of Family Violence, 2, 177-191.
  2. Wood, Julia T. (2004). Monsters and victims: Male felons’ accounts of intimate partner violence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 555-576.
  3. Hearn, Jeff. (1998). The Violences of Men: How Men Talk About and How Agencies Respond to Men’s Violence to Women. London: Sage
  4. Cavanagh, Kate, Dobash, R. Emerson, Dobash, Russell P., & Lewis, Ruth. (2001). ‘Remedial work’: Men’s strategic responses to their violence against intimate female partners. Sociology, 35(3), 695-714.
  5. Eisikovits, Zvi C., Goldblatt, Hadass , & Winstok, Zeev (1999). Partner accounts of intimate violence: Towards a theoretical model. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 80, 606-619.
  6. Ptacek J. Why do men batter their wives? In: Yllö K, Bograd M, editors. Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse (SAGE Focus Editions) 1988. p. 133-57.

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Tactic #16 — Physical Violence: The Motivations

by Clare Murphy PhD 22 August 2013

This is the sixteenth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel — Physical Violence. This blog focuses on men’s motivations for using coercively controlling physical violence against female partners. A man interviewed by Jeff Hearn(12) said: “I don’t let it lie, because I always want to have the […]

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Tactic #15 — Domestic Slavery

by Clare Murphy PhD 12 August 2013

This is the fifteenth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel — Domestic Slavery. Rigid Gender Roles Amongst heterosexual couples, many people believe the man should be the breadwinner (although being the sole breadwinner is really only possible for wealthy families). Alongside this, many people believe the woman […]

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Tactic #14 — Symbolic Aggression

by Clare Murphy PhD 29 July 2013

This is the fourteenth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel — Symbolic Aggression. A symbolic act is a verbal or physical gesture that represents or means something of larger significance than the gesture itself. Symbolic aggression includes verbal or physical gestures aimed at terrorising, threatening, intimidating, dominating, […]

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Tactic #11 — Using the Children

by Clare Murphy PhD 11 April 2013

This is the eleventh of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel — Using the Children.Ways men use the children to maintain power and control or to punish their partner or ex-partner include demanding that she do all the childcare, making her feel guilty about the children, telling her […]

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Tactic #10 — Denial, Minimising, Blaming

by Clare Murphy PhD 28 February 2013

This is the tenth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel — Denial, Minimising, Blaming. We are all responsible for the choices we make in life. We’re personally responsible for our own thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and interpretations of situations. Our thoughts lead to our feelings and in turn […]

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Tactic #9 — Using Social Institutions and Social Prejudices

by Clare Murphy PhD 15 February 2013

This is the ninth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Using Social Institutions and Social Prejudices. Many perpetrators of psychological abuse use social, health, legal and other institutions such as child protection services as arenas to further their coercive control over their intimate partner. They use […]

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Tactic #8 — Separation Abuse

by Clare Murphy PhD 30 July 2012

This is the eighth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Separation Abuse. It’s commonly assumed women should just leave their abusive partner, that she’s stupid for staying, and that if she left him, all her problems would be over. But this is far from the reality […]

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Tactic #7 — Degradation & Suppression of Potential

by Clare Murphy PhD 19 July 2012

This is the seventh of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Degradation & Suppression of Potential. Men who degrade their female partner do this by calling her derogatory names like slut or whore, using abusive language, correcting things the woman says or does, by depriving her of […]

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Tactic #6 — Emotional Unkindness & Violation of Trust

by Clare Murphy PhD 16 July 2012

This is the sixth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Emotional unkindness & violation of trust. What is emotional unkindness? Emotional unkindness entails DOING something unkind and the ABSENCE of, or FAILURE to do something kind. Emotional unkindness is a failure to provide for emotional needs […]

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Tactic #5 — Over-Protection and ‘Caring’

by Clare Murphy PhD 23 April 2012

This is the fifth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Over-protection and ‘caring’. Beliefs lead to behaviours Many men who psychologically abuse and control their female partners do not define their behaviour as cruel or abusive. This is partly because their behaviours make perfect sense when […]

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Tactic #4 — Isolation

by Clare Murphy PhD 9 February 2012

This is the fourth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Isolation. Isolation is a powerful tactic used by controlling partners Isolation is a pivotal tactic that controlling partners use in order to weaken their victims, prevent them from hearing others’ perspectives, and to bring them into […]

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Warning signs of coercive control

by Clare Murphy PhD 1 February 2012

I wrote a blog post Warning Signs of Coercive Control by Your Partner for the Home & Family Counselling organisation’s Blog to give women some pointers about warning signs of coercive control by a male partner. Clues to warning signs that you’re in a relationship that is highly likely to continue to get worse – […]

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Tactic #3 — Inappropriate Restrictions

by Clare Murphy PhD 10 October 2011

This is the third of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Inappropriate Restrictions. In our lives we are all restricted in a host of different ways. Laws, social and cultural etiquette, physical and mental ability, the hours we work, and our need to take time out to […]

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Tactic #2 — Mind Games

by Clare Murphy PhD 14 July 2011

This is the second of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Mind Games.   Mind Games are deliberate attempts to psychologically manipulate someone. They are covert, coercive, manipulative intentions masked by innocent sounding communication. Mind Game language is designed to confuse and keep the victim from guessing […]

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Tactic #1 — One-Sided Power Games

by Clare Murphy PhD 17 May 2011

This is the first of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics mentioned in my power and control wheel – One-Sided Power Games. Research with men and women reveals that men who engage in one-sided power games show more concern about gaining something for themselves than showing concern for what they are actually doing to […]

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No bruise no victim?

by Clare Murphy PhD 28 April 2011

Why women and society miss the cues of psychological abuse What have I done wrong? Am I going crazy? Is this normal? One of the most common problems for women experiencing psychological abuse, is that they do not realise what is occurring in the early stages and are often not able to put it in […]

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Warning signs that your male partner is emotionally controlling you

by Clare Murphy PhD 20 August 2010

You’re dating or living with this good looking guy, maybe he’s charming and you feel wanted . . . but things he says or does make you feel bad about yourself – and you can’t really figure out why. You likely question yourself asking whether it’s something about you – because he doesn’t seem to […]

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Power and control: Lawyer-client relationship

by Clare Murphy PhD 27 June 2009

A power and control wheel has been developed as a tool for recognising abuse and psychological assault by lawyers against their clients. This Lawyer-Client wheel was motivated firstly by the book Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture by Marc Galanter, and secondly, by the State Bar of Texas ethics rules (which reflect ethics […]

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Men’s tactics of power and control against female partners

by Clare Murphy PhD 29 January 2009

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 […]

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