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Learn About Coercive Control and Psychological Abuse

Tactic #4 — Isolation

– Posted in: Intimate partner abuse Male perpetrators Why does he do it

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 line with his own beliefs and requirements. Often possessiveness and jealousy play a part in some men’s motivation to isolate women from social contact with friends and family. Some tactics aimed at isolating the victim include telling her that she cares more for her friends, family and pets than for him, telling her he’s the only one who understands her and loves her, controlling incoming information including what she reads, calling her names if she spends time with friends and family, purposefully moving towns or countries, and there are a whole lot more tactics that women describe below in interviews from my Masters research.

Isolation is a debilitating consequence of abuse and control

Anyone who lives with an ongoing experience of being abused by a family or household member can become isolated as a result.  For instance, the victim may withdraw from friends and family to save face or because they feel misunderstood, judged, stigmatised, or not supported. Particular tactics aimed at isolating the victim can lead women to become extremely dependent on their controlling partner.

He controls the money to prevent her use of the car

Elsie said her husband had the money for the petrol, “so I could only go and see my parents if he gave me petrol money. So I’d only go sometimes. I still saw them. As Leon’s control over me got higher and stronger over me he would let me go more often. Near the end of our marriage, friends would come and he would open the door this much (indicates two inches) and say I wasn’t home. That way I never ended up with anybody to counteract what he said. It did start to wear me down.”

He turns off electricity to prevent her exiting through the electronic gate

A couple of friends of Heather’s said, “’I don’t know how you live here with these gates around you all the time. It’s a fully fenced section with these gates.’ They said they’d feel a bit trapped, it’s like Fort Knox in there. I started to think, yeah, I’d gone to go a couple of times and Luke stopped me coz he switched the power off and I couldn’t get in to turn it back on. There were just a few things like that that started to scare me. That’s when I started to panic and thought I’ve got to get out of here and have some time on my own to see what’s happening.”

He manufactures situations aimed at isolating her

Heather would tell Luke, for instance, that she “was going out with a friend on Saturday and he’d say, ‘Oh didn’t I tell you, I was planning on going away, ring and tell them you can’t, I’ve already planned it.’ Sometimes now I think he really hadn’t planned it, he’d just ring at the last minute, so any time I went to go to an outside activity, ‘Oh didn’t I tell you mum wants to come over’. There was always something stopping me getting contact with the outside world. He’d say, ‘Let’s go fishing, it’s too nice a day you can’t go shopping today, I’ll go and pack and we’ll go to the lake fishing.’ So I’d ring my friend and say, ‘Can we go shopping on a wet day, it’s such a nice day Luke is off to go fishing’. In the end I was realising that I was spending all my time with him. Then when he was doing that with the phone calls I started to get a bit scared. I was scared more than anything.

Says what she does makes him jealous so insists she not do it

Karen said her partner Felix “was a very jealous person, he was afraid that I’d be running around screwing everyone. I learned how to shut myself down. I stopped seeing my friends as much. Once the baby came there was utter isolation, poverty, and loss of trust.”

Attempts to isolate him and her as a couple from the rest of the world

Teresa said her partner “didn’t want the world encroaching or shining its bright light on anything in the relationship, that it had to be exclusive and separate from the rest of the world. I thought it was quite nice. It meant that you were really special (laughter). Somebody loved you that much.”

Heather’s partner attempted to isolate her from family and friends “mainly because my parents didn’t really like him that much and my friends didn’t like him that much he’d say, ‘Oh if just you and me went to live in Australia it would be amazing. We wouldn’t have your family and everyone against us. They’re all against us here. If we moved away it would be just us. We would be so much happier. We wouldn’t have the interference.’ I didn’t want to move away. I liked having my family. But I must admit there was one stage he’d say, ‘They’re just against us because we’re so happy’. I started to believe maybe my aunty and uncle aren’t very happy, and maybe my grandparents haven’t got anything else to do but think that their granddaughter should have something better, I’d start going through all that. But I couldn’t make that move to Australia.”

Demands loyalty to him, not to others

Elsie said she really adored her stepson, Jeremy, but if ever her husband “saw us get close he’d really get stuck into me, and to Jeremy too, coz that was like disloyalty to Leon. It would really hurt because I really did adore my stepson. He was just adorable. He wouldn’t let Jeremy ever come near me, it would be like total disloyalty.”

Tells her she is not allowed to see certain people

Sally said, “I was not allowed to keep in touch with my male friends. I made the assumption he was jealous but he’d never admit to it – he had no comprehension that my friendship with these men did not mean I loved him any less or that they’d get more attention in anyway whatsoever – it was so immature and pathetic of him and ignorant that he refused to even meet these people.”

Dismissive of invites to participate with her friends and family  

Teresa said her partner Patrick “very strongly tried to prevent me from continuing and developing relationships with other people. I did what he wanted. Again it was quite subtle. It wasn’t, ‘I don’t want you to have any friends, I don’t want you to talk to your family’. It was – he’d refuse to come and visit my family for weekends or Christmas. The first Christmas I stayed, I didn’t want to stay, I’d much rather have gone to visit my family, but I felt sorry for him being left all alone, even though it was his choice to be left all alone. So I told my family I had to work because I didn’t want them to know that he was the kind of prick (laughter) who didn’t want to come and be with the family. Then with friends, he didn’t like it when they came round and he’d go and shut himself in the study and be quite dismissive to them. I was especially confused for a long time about the friends thing because my idea of living with someone was that you could have friends around for dinner and drinks and lunch, and that wasn’t the right thing to do. It took me a long time to figure it out.”

He puts limits on her visits with friends and family

Susan’s sister lived three quarters of an hour away. “But Anthony didn’t like me going over there and spending the day with her because I wouldn’t be home doing things. We were allowed to visit my cousin who was 15 minutes drive away. Anthony would go off and do a job. When he got home I thought he’d been working the whole time, but he hadn’t, he’d been visiting. I didn’t know this for a long long time, but I know he used to call into various people’s places whenever he was going past, but he used to put a time limit on my outings. I used to argue with him and he used to just look at me like I was an idiot and said, ‘well I’m not talking to you’. And he didn’t. He’d stop talking to me completely.” However Susan would still visit but would “only visit if I had to go and do something such as grocery shopping, because otherwise you have nothing if you don’t have friends.”

Teresa “narrowed the range to what was acceptable to her partner.” She used to go away for a weekend with girlfriends every four or five months “and drink lots of Lindauer and eat chocolate and cheese and crackers and I didn’t do that at all when I was with him because he was really threatened by it and didn’t like it.” She said that, “At work he didn’t like it if I spent too much time with other people, or did things when he didn’t know what I was doing. He had to know what I was doing all the time. He used to ring up every hour when I was at home and say, ‘What are you doing?’”

Tells her that her friends or family don’t care about her

Heather said Luke “was starting to set me against my parents, saying, ‘They’re just being mean, they don’t like me, they just want you to go back to your ex-husband and they’re not giving us a chance’.”

He attempts to divide and conquer by provoking jealousies and rivalries

Teresa said that her partner Patrick would tell her, “That people at work had said things about me, that they had said that I was this, that I was that, horrible things, which I believed and I don’t know whether they had said them or not. I think that he probably twisted a lot of things like that and I believed him, so that would change my judgement.” This led Teresa to reduce her interactions with other people, “and my job which I previously really enjoyed, I’d just go to work and do my job and go away as quickly as I could so I wasn’t around people. And I wouldn’t phone people or do things with people at all.”

He’s rude, critical or dismissive of her visitors

When Sally’s “best friend travelled from the North Island to visit her and Dylan in Nelson, Dylan, who was not usually very active when it came to renovating the house, suddenly appeared ‘busy’ renovating the house. He didn’t want to go out, and spent most of his time making my friends wrong or visiting with his alcohol drinking marijuana smoking buddy. My best friend told me I had become a clone of Dylan’s, which I had not realised. He did not want me to keep in touch with her after that and whenever I wanted to get in touch he disapproved.”

Sally also said that “one year, my sister did not tell Dylan she was coming up to surprise me for my birthday coz she knew he wouldn’t let her stay. And another time one of my friends rang to use our shower because her electricity had gone out and he said ‘no’.”

Teresa said Patrick “came down to my parent’s place once and that was the only time he would, and he was rude and I was really embarrassed by it.”

Elsie said, “If I had a friend that was my friend and not somebody that Leon had introduced me to, he’d run them down, he’d say they’re not like you, they’re a bitch and stuff like that, to get rid of them, put them off. It would work because it was so unpleasant to listen to all the time and he’d embarrass me if they ever visited, so I wouldn’t encourage people to come and see me. Friends would ask me to go out or something. I just kept saying, ‘Oh no, no.’ There was one young girl, she was such a nice girl, we really got on well, and she said when I was leaving work – we’d worked together – she said, ‘I’ll come round and see you, we’ll still see each other eh?’ And I said, ‘No we won’t.’ And she was really hurt I know, but I never explained why. I think she just thought I was a nasty (laughter) person.”

Karen said “Felix accepted my involvement with my family more than with my friends, but he was very critical, especially of my mum, which is understandable. And it used to drive me nuts that I couldn’t have my brother there coz I sort of brought up my little brother and I felt very closely bound to him. He would let me have him, but there would always be a bloody hassle, there would always be a row when my brother was there, always. I felt terrible about that because I wanted to give him support and love.”

Elizabeth “would go to groups or do personal growth type things and I’d meet people and I’d maybe have them over, and David would say to me things like, ‘Why are you making friends with her she’s separated, why don’t you make friends with married people?’ He would be quite cold to them when they came to the house. I would be quite reticent about having them back, or I wouldn’t go to things that he couldn’t come to. If I got invited to something on my own I wouldn’t go unless it was a couple invitation. So I only really did couple things.”

Friends and family decide to stay away because of his abusiveness

Elsie said “I was isolated in the sense that Leon would have a guise of being nice to my parents, but then he would be rude sometimes, enough for them not to like him and they wouldn’t want to come round and see me. He was unwelcoming and unfriendly to anybody who knew me, so people just started to stay away.”

Victoria’s “sister came to stay once, my sister and I aren’t particularly close, it was getting close to the end of the marriage and Graham did one of his ‘behaviours’ and it was the first time that my family had actually seen him in action. And it wasn’t nothing, it was like, ‘you think this is a problem, you should see him on a good day!’ My sister said, ‘I’ll never come and stay with you again because I couldn’t believe the way he acted.’ So it wasn’t about, ‘Oh my God let me support you and help you’. It was about, ‘I’m never coming back, I’m not going to associate with you guys because this is stuffed’. So through the dysfunctions we were having people pulled back, and I didn’t want people to see that. So it was best to pull away and not engage in too many behaviours with others. I didn’t want to admit that this was my lot. If they saw it I’d have to admit it to myself and I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself.”

He makes her feel bad for pursuing friends of her own choosing

Elizabeth said, “I used to try and do any socialising that I wanted to do during the day when David was at work, but in the hours that were acceptable to him. I didn’t do separate things in the evenings although I did join a quilting group and I remember getting a real sense of belonging because it was all women.”

He requires relationship issues be kept secret

Teresa said, “Whenever I’d talk to people on the phone Patrick would make it really clear with body language and non-verbal behaviours that he didn’t like it and he’d sulk afterwards. He’d say things like, ‘What happens between you and I is just between you and I and it’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think you should ever tell people what’s between you and I. It’s special, it’s just ours.’ I did still talk to my friends a little bit, but I really cut myself off from people to keep him happy.”

Elsie “made the mistake of saying something to mum one day. It was something really harmless about something in the house and Leon waited until we were out of earshot and then let loose. So no I never talked to anyone about it, and my parents to this day don’t know. They still don’t know what it was like. I’ve never talked to anyone.”

Pauline’s husband came from parents who thought very highly of themselves and had to keep up appearances. “So his parents believed that if anything went wrong, ‘God you should not tell people because if they think badly of you, you’d go down the ladder!’ Yeah so I had to come to terms with not telling anybody if bad things happened. When we were finally separated, my family just went into total shock because they thought it was an absolute perfect marriage and they were just stunned.”

However Pauline did share some traumatic experiences with her friend. “My friend went ballistic at him when she found out about the miscarriage and he was like, ‘Oops I feel a bit awful someone has found out I can get rather nasty and everyone thinks I’m Mr Wonderful’.”

Pauline “was so confused and I thought I was going quite crazy because he acted like nothing’s wrong. So I’d think well maybe it’s me, it’s all my thinking, my perception.” However she finally experienced validation for her perception when her friend, who lived miles away and had not visited for a long time, arrived for a visit and her husband was home on shift. Until that visit her friend had “thought my husband was an absolute angel, she went to school with him.” But at this visit her friend told Pauline, “All these months you talked to me on the phone about what he’s been like, I didn’t think you were lying, but I couldn’t see that’s how he would be, because that’s not him.” But she said, “Now I’m here today, I can see this is for real, it’s happening.”

She chooses to isolate herself to save face

Teresa said, “I didn’t really want to talk about it to friends or family because I felt that they would see me as a failure and that I’d buggered it up. And I guess also that they would want me to do something that I wasn’t ready to do, like you have to leave. Whereas my feeling was that if you’re in a relationship, then you have to do everything you can to make it work and you can’t just get up and walk out, because you’ve made a commitment.”

Victoria said she and Graham “were very quite secluded and isolated as a couple, so the opportunities to talk weren’t greatly there. I never spoke to Graham’s family about the relationship because they were in their own dysfunctional homes. My family wasn’t particularly close and I certainly wasn’t going to tell them that I was in trouble. Secrecy was more about my perception of saving face than it was about an overt ‘You mustn’t tell’.”

She becomes isolated due to fear of consequences

Raewyn said “I didn’t go and see my family as much because Brian really used to get pissed off with me travelling up there. He’d say, ‘Oh it costs so much money.’ That’s probably one thing I did restrict myself in because he was so anti it.”

Victoria said she and Graham “reduced social activities. The only ones we did were involving his family, what Graham wanted to do. And that’s also because I didn’t want anybody to see us function, or dysfunction is probably more appropriate, as a couple. So I’d go to his family because they were all dysfunctional anyway, and he’d have a tantrum if we didn’t go to his family. His tantrums had to be seen to be believed.”

Susan said, “I was scared that when I got home Anthony was going to get angry and not talk to me. He’s always sulked. If he didn’t like something I did he wouldn’t talk to me. But usually it was for a day. The two weeks he ignored me was far out, it was unbelievable. He still would sleep with me. We wouldn’t have sex, but would sleep in the same bed. I’d talk to him and he’d just turn his head and walk away.”

Karen said she would sometimes “stop and have a jug of beer with people after uni and I knew there would be hell to pay, I knew there would be a problem. I was fearful, dreading, just the dread. I couldn’t enjoy spontaneity. I couldn’t enjoy social things because of the fear and the guilt, so I would withdraw and just choose not to do it, it would be too much bother.”

Reference:

Murphy, Clare (2002) Women Coping with Psychological Abuse: Surviving in the Secret World of Male Partner Power and Control. Unpublished Masters thesis, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Available here.

Watch out for blogs on the following control tactics:

One-Sided power games
Mind games
Inappropriate restrictions
Over-protection and ‘caring’
Emotional unkindness & violation of trust
Degradation & suppression of potential
Separation abuse
Using social institutions & social prejudices
Denial, minimising, blaming
Using the children
Economic abuse
Sexual abuse
Symbolic aggression
Domestic slavery
Physical violence
Cyber Abuse

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Related Posts

Comments on this entry are closed.

Robyne 30 September 2015, 7:23 pm

What do I do if my best friend is in a relationship and now has been told she is to have no contact with me and he tells her that he is the male of the house and she is not to question him?

Clare Murphy PhD 30 September 2015, 7:32 pm

Robyne — It is very common for coercively controlling partners to divide and conquer in this way — very sad for her and for you. You may find some useful tips in this series of blogs about how to help women who are abused and controlled by male partners: — Clare

Stage One
Stage Two
Stage Three
Stage Four
Stage Five

Liz 5 May 2015, 5:13 am

Sometimes there is no a escape. When you are older and have health issues, can’t work, no support of any kind no friends or family. Where would I go, to the streets? I would be trading one stress for another. At least we have dogs they keep me comapany and show me love. He adores the dogs. They get whatever they need or want. I am also deaf legally, but I do have some hearing and I am oral so most people don’t know.

Bubbles 3 February 2016, 9:14 am

I am the same as you except I have to protect my dogs from him.

Debbi 4 March 2015, 3:56 am

What do you do when your daughter won’t speak to you? She is 22 and has a 4 year old daughter who we haven’t been allowed to see for months at a time … until they need something.

Catherine 1 March 2015, 12:45 am

I am beginning to realize from very early in our relationship my husband would lie to the neighbors about me. I never figured it out! I once had a woman say to me I had better stay away from her husband. No “hello,” “nice to meet you” – just right to “you better stay away from my husband.” I thought she was a little crazy. I think I did not notice the isolation because my family was the same way. My older sister never wanted me to have a friend, but she made it seem like they simply were too dorky. I realize now as I look at the situation (I’m almost 60!) that I didn’t notice because from an early age isolation was normal. I guess I am just venting. I did wonder if anyone else had this experience? Once my husband claimed that the new neighbor told him his wife had had affairs. I really had to wonder what kind of man would speak to a new neighbor about his wife? It is all a mystery to me why anyone would be so… what is the word? Cruel.

Eric 18 January 2015, 6:41 pm

I just found this article while I was looking for information about this behaviour which my wife has made central to our marriage. Perhaps it is mainly only women who understand whats happening and look for help and answers when this happens to them, but I was pretty disappointed with the articles gender bias where the abuser is always a “he”.

Clare Murphy PhD 18 January 2015, 7:19 pm

Hello Eric, I have written elsewhere throughout my website that I am writing about, and from, the perspectives of my Masters research, my PhD research, and related experiences in my consulting work.

I know that men living with female partners experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as do men and women living with same-sex partners. In due course I will write from these other perspectives.

That means I am currently discussing two main issues:
1. Heterosexual men who perpetrate emotional abuse and control against their female partners, and
2. Heterosexual women who have survived these same behaviours.

It takes time to research and write about every possible angle of abuse.

Chico 25 April 2015, 1:38 pm

Comment timed 1.21pm

I have been reading the different subjects on this website. I would like to see the inverse. What about me? Don’t men get abused too?

Comment timed 1.38pm

You know, after I posted the above listed comment. I continued to look at this website and found this information. Thank you for it and please forgive the haste of my prior comment.

Diana 29 July 2013, 6:25 am

My husband never allows me to express my feelings of hurt. He always counters anything I say and says the opposite is true, no matter what the subject may be. I have been living like this for 25 years. Our children think he is right. They treat me with no respect and do the same things to me now. My son, sometimes does seem to see what is happening, but my daughter has become a woman with NO empathy for others and is raising my granddaughter the same way. It hurts to see this happen – and even when my spouse says he sees this same behavior in our daughter, if I comment on it, he immediately gets up and leaves the room saying I am obsessing. My feelings and hurt have never been acknowledged, validated or cared about. I am told I am too sensitive and need to forget about it. I am a burden to be around so I am left alone.

I am ill now and cannot leave, I am unable to drive. I have lost weight and am ill, but unable to see a doctor. I do not know what to do. I desperately need help. I am thinking I should just disappear. I would if I had a way to.

Clare Murphy PhD 29 July 2013, 8:24 am

Diana, Abuse leads to stress which leads to inflammation in the body which leads to a very wide range of physical illnesses – sometimes women become ill in ways that doctors are not able to pinpoint. I urge you to seek support from your local domestic violence organisation – you might be able to find face-to-face counselling, or phone counselling, or attend a group where women who have experienced exactly what you are experiencing get a lot of help and validation. You do not deserve to be treated the way you are being treated. Clare

Diana 29 July 2013, 11:55 am

I will look into the information. I appreciate your input.

Julie 26 July 2013, 4:01 pm

My problem is with my 27 year old daughter who has been with her husband for 7 years now. Once, we were very close and had a loving relationship before she met him. It’s been slow in coming, but her husband has constantly told her that I don’t respect her and that I am not a fit mother and that I talk sarcastic to her. I do not. Slowly, she has pulled herself away from me and her sister claiming we are mean to her and she doesn’t need this in her life. We haven’t spoken in a month and she won’t return my phone calls or answer text messages. Every message I’ve left is a loving one – telling her I love her and that I’m here if she wants to talk. I get no response.

It was my 50th birthday on July 23, and she didn’t even acknowledge it – no phone call, no text.

I am devastated and her sister and I don’t know how to handle this. We thought about just dropping by her house to try to talk to her, but I have reservations about that because her husband is a police officer and has a cocky, rude attitude.

What can I do? I’m at a loss. This is my child and I don’t understand!

Clare Murphy PhD 26 July 2013, 9:10 pm

Julie — Many mothers have written to me with this exact problem and question. It is very common for coercively controlling partners to divide and conquer in this way — very sad for her, you, and your other daughter. I have been putting together resources for mothers for dealing with their specific situations. I will begin to write blog posts with suggestions, but because of my current time commitments, I won’t be able to do this immediately — however, I will do it. In the meantime you may find some useful tips in this series of blogs: — Clare
How to help women abused and controlled by male partners:

Stage One
Stage Two
Stage Three
Stage Four
Stage Five

Julie 27 July 2013, 9:38 am

Clare, thank you. I am reading the blogs now!

Gill 24 January 2016, 9:34 pm

Hi Julie, I am in the same situation. My daughter and I were so close and up to two weeks before she cut me out of her life was constantly telling her friends I was the most amazing mum and she loved me so much and was so proud of me.

I have had no contact for four years and have now been told by my garage I have a tracker in my car (he used to be a Director of a car hire company) and my emails, on the odd occasion they are answered have come from a slightly different email address ie .com and not co.uk so I suspect he is redirecting my emails and texts.

I have been told by my women’s support group that this is now the weapon of choice for the control freak. My son in law moved my daughter 200 miles away and I drive there frequently to try to catch a glimpse of her, she looks aneroxic and ill. The one time she spoke to me she was hysterical saying I had never wanted her and was glad she was out of my life.

She softened down twice but looked over my shoulder at her husband and started screaming again. I have been told by my Counselor and Doctor to let it run its course but am so scared as I cannot get any communication to her to let her know I am here for her if she wants to leave (he has all post sent to a postbox which he collects).

She has come off of facebook and twitter and I am told by her friends that she does not answer them. When she first moved she told me they were all ignoring her so I now suspect he had diverted their contact before mine. My family offer no love and support and have not offered help, I know he will be using that as another reason why she is better off without her family, i.e. ‘look they haven’t even tried to contact you’.

I am at my wits end but know I must stay healthy for the day she needs me. My heart goes out to everyone going through this, it is living hell. No one seems to understand how distressing it is and quickly get bored of listening about it.

just-another-anon 12 April 2013, 7:19 pm

I was totally disabled before I met my spouse. I had a part-time job that paid for my car insurance and its upkeep and enough money to live on. Not rich, but enough. After we got married (even though I asked him to postpone it for a year his rage made me follow through) he took all my funds and forced me into a place where I had to apply for credit cards just to feed his kids and pay all his debts. I had an A+ credit rating when we got married, now I have all kinds of judgements against my social security disability – but fortunately they cannot attach that. His income is 5 times more than my disability and he took my car and had me sign off to him so he could get a new car. Each time I ask for the key he argues with me, refuses to give it to me and prevents me from going anywhere on my own.

Within 4 months of the marriage he got me fired from my job because he took my credit card that I used for gas and used all the available funds and I could not attend required meetings. His history (which he lied about) shows that he regularly and repeatedly does not pay his bills, bounces checks, uses fraud and lies to obtain credit, etc. After being trapped in a house fire, where I could not get my wheelchair out the blocked doorways, I managed to crawl out into minus 13 degrees and heavy snow, I have become mostly bedridden. But I was still able to drive myself to the doctor and to visit my quite elderly mother.

I have not been able to go out by myself for nearly 3 years now and he has repeatedly refused me my medicine (won’t pick it up at the pharmacy, or loses it or the prescriptions, even my pain meds). Nor have I been able to get into the shower for 2 years and I have only washed my hair 3 times in the last year.

My brother died suddenly in October and my husband never took care of my powerchair that was kept in the car when we ended up homeless for 8 months so I could not get around at the funeral – nor would he move me to where I needed to go. He also refused to put my manual chair in the car so I could get around by myself. Twice since we moved into an apartment (he was unemployed for 3 years… his choice. No job was good enough) I have been trapped near the building because the sidewalk or parking lot access was blocked. But he just shrugs and says “nothing I can do” and drops it. If I complain or voice anything he goes into major theatrics, screaming, throwing his arms around, running through the apartment, etc. I am considering changing my name to F$#% You because that is what he calls me, and told his kids to call me from the beginning. Very near the beginning of the marriage he was helping me wash my hair over the side of the tub and my robe was not covering my lower privates and he refused to close the door or throw a towel over me and his kids and their friends were standing there peering at me. When I brought this up to him he went into his tirade and refused to allow me to seek counseling.

Because I am pretty weak and recently discovered 2 serious health issues, one an aortic aneurysm, it is impossible to get myself out of the relationship. I have no family that lives within 4 states and all my friends are gone since we married and he did not allow me to have friends unless they were him or his dad. I think suicide the only option for me.

Clare Murphy PhD 15 April 2013, 2:33 pm

Just-another-anon — You do not deserve any of this abuse, you are not to blame and you have the right to dignity, and support. I’m concerned about your safety and wellbeing as you are considering suicide.

I urge you to call your doctor, or your local emergency phone number so you could be taken to hospital to get professional help. You could also call your local domestic violence agency helpline to seek support, or your local disability support service.

TM 28 July 2015, 12:12 pm

Please, please, Just-another-anon, you deserve every ounce of sweetness you can squeeze out of life. Just because he has lived and breathed to make you feel inadequate does not make you so. You have faced tremendous obstacles in your life, and through your perseverance built a life worth living, in fact one worth, celebrating. These horrible people target the vulnerable. This is not your fault. Call and keep calling until you get the help you deserve. Call your friends, ask them for help. Three years gone between good friends is nothing. They will help. Call your family who live four states away. Listen, everyone won’t be able to help in the same way, maybe the way you need most. But everyone can play a role in your survival and someone, maybe more, will be able to help in the way you need most. Help will come from places you never expected, but you have to call.

Eve Ewert 14 July 2012, 4:05 am

Someone asked me if there is something she can do to escape a cyclical control thing which happens every three weeks or so. Is it inevitable? What are simple steps to ‘step out of it’ while it happens? She wants to remain in her marriage and is now elderly. For instance he recently took about three days of anger to get over her having a ‘night with the girls’ with members of her family, and now she is thinking to draw back socially because it is so wearing on her. This type of scenario happens over and over. For instance, when she initiates a ‘plan’ and it is not his idea first. Thank you!

Linda 16 April 2012, 4:49 am

I just found you! I know I’ll be spending a lot of time reading your blog. Looks like you only blogged up to control #4? Please keep me posted when you do more. Thank you for your understanding of these situations and even more thanks for making / taking the time to share what you know.
Sincerely, Linda S.L. Keen

Anna 22 March 2012, 10:40 am

Great graphic of the individual and collective manifestations of corrupted power and control in relationship! And excellent examples of the many ways in which isolation can be implemented. It is such an insidious torment. No wonder it’s used in prison! Powerful site. Thank you! Some of what I do with what I learned from marriage to a psychopath.

E.C. 18 March 2012, 7:52 am

I hope you will continue this series discussing the tactics on your wheel! I’ve so enjoyed the first four entries.