Gift giving can be manipulative gift giving manipulative Clare Murphy PhD_4Today I read this article about the very problematic issue of male perpetrators of domestic violence (including psychological abuse and coercive control) giving gifts as a means of trying to ameliorate their partner and trying to increase the chances that she will stay with him and meet his controlling commands. My research with women shows that gift giving can occur as a stalking tactic and separation abuse — it can be very confusing for the woman, and onlookers do not understand why women feel upset. The article says:

Socially, we are taught that gifts are selfless, thoughtful and virtuous expressions of love, friendship or respect. We are also taught that a gift is a “get out of trouble” card. And the more expensive or rare or sentimental the gift, the more forgiveness it can barter ……

How many women might instinctively soften after a quarrel if their husband or boyfriend brought home a shiny necklace or stylish watch the next day? How many would take the gift without an explicit admission of guilt? And would that be wrong? The tricky part of this equation is that gifts can be really nice to get. A gift is a tangible object that says, “I was thinking about you.” But it doesn’t mean “I acknowledge, understand and take responsibility for what I’ve done.”…..

[Peter Hovman] said that the stereotype of the anti-social manipulator with the feeble cow-towed spouse isn’t necessarily the norm. Confident, successful women can also be victims. Perhaps because they tend to attract even more confident and successful men. The kind of men that even your friends have a hard time believing would hurt you…….

“Friends don’t often understand how significant domestic violence can be,” explained Ellen Reed, an executive director at Lydia’s House, which provides transitional housing and counseling for battered women.

She said that friends might see a charming, attractive, generous guy, but the woman in the relationship needs to ask herself if she’s afraid of him.

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Clare Murphy PhD is the founder of SpeakOutLoud. Her website is dedicated to providing in-depth research about coercive control and psychological abuse. Clare mentors, supervises and trains professionals to recognise and work safely with domestic violence. She offers one-on-one counselling and consultation to those who are ready to make sense of coercive control and abuse, and to Grow and Flourish Beyond Trauma.