Coercive Control to be a Criminal Offence

Speakoutloud.net coercive control criminal offence Clare Murphy PhDFar seeing legislation puts the ambulance at the top of the cliff.

In January 2015 the UK House of Commons amended the Serious Crime Bill [Lords] to make Coercive Controlling behaviour by an intimate partner or family member a criminal offence. The legislation came into force on 19th December 2015.

Here is one man’s story about the way he coercively controls his wife and her family. He doesn’t beat her, and neither does he swear at her. He doesn’t overtly threaten her, nor does he call her abusive names. He doesn’t appear to forbid her from doing things nor tell her what to do, say, or think.

Outwardly he’s a great guy, a decent and loving husband and dad.

But it’s an act. 

The reality is that this man is on a quest — and it doesn’t include his wife and child.

Male socialisation includes a dominant social message that it is not befitting of a man to negotiate with a woman. He must be in charge.

This man puts himself first at all times — over and above the welfare of his wife and their child, in every way and in every possible circumstance where he’s not being seen by family and outsiders.

His needs, wants and desires always come first, and he will risk her health and their child’s health and safety to increase his power and control.

Unbelievably, if need be, he will even make his own life a little bit less comfortable to make life more miserable for his wife and child if it will reinforce his control.

He overloads her with work, including heavy, physical labour whilst he sits sedentary doing “important” things in his room.

He enslaves her — not by “forcing” her — but by training her. He has “trained” her to do everything and never, ever to ask, or expect, him to pull his weight — even in an emergency.

Early on and throughout their relationship she resists his coercive control, argues, pleads in ongoing, futile attempts to resolve his dominating behaviours. She hopes to retain the fabric of her dreams and continually seeks the elusive man she married.

In turn he threatens her if she continues to challenge him. He never openly threatens her. Instead he selects from his battery of controlling tactics and behaviours. He intimidates her with non verbal communication and body language, controls her with the silent treatment, makes ostensibly innocent casual asides which hurt her or frighten her, constantly interrupts her to wear her down, emanates an atmosphere of menace, gloom and hostility.

And, over time, the stress of the unrelenting abuse and control infiltrates her physical being, adrenaline runs wild, she is riddled with nervous tension, increasing anxiety, confusion and insecurity. She gradually adapts to her circumstances, like a frog in a pot of cold water slowly heating up. Her resistance is slowly breaking down as he penetrates and denies her values and beliefs. He manipulates her perspectives and gradually impairs her judgement. His ideas, almost imperceptibly, take precedence.

If it suits him, he will let her go without food. He won’t cook and he won’t go out for groceries and supplies, even if it means they both go without if she is too busy to do it. He won’t care for her even when she is sick.

Using a tone of kindly concern, over time he casts doubts on her friends, suggesting they are not true friends and can’t be trusted. If she insists on seeing her family who live some distance away, he makes her pay for travel even though she has no earnings. She has no savings, no money of her own, and can rarely afford to do this. He isolates her. She is trapped.

She can buy small items, and groceries, but must wait for his permission for bigger purchases, even essential items like fuel to heat the house. Meanwhile he is in control of the purse and just splashes out whenever he feels like it.

He persuades her to leave the house unheated when he’s not around. She’s been well trained. He insists she and child are warm enough, despite the low temperatures. They can rug up. When he comes home at the end of the day, however, the heating goes on.

She learns never to question this. He has coerced her thought processes over a lengthy time. He will never let her have her way. Nor be herself, nor do what she chooses. She is powerless.

He exploits her family. If her parents take them out, he picks the most expensive and extravagant things on the menu, even though he is wealthier than her parents. This is not a “one off”. He is constantly visiting at her parents’ house for drinks and dinner. He has a huge appetite. But months go by before he returns the favour.

He neglects his wife and child. But he knows her parents will pitch in and take up any slack when he puts her and the child at risk. Her parents are beside themselves with worry about their daughter’s wellbeing. He asks her parents to do dirty, menial jobs for him, despite having their own work to do, health to deal with and life to lead.

He makes excuses for his neglect and lack of support based on lies, and constantly changes the lies, then denies changing his stories. She is left unsure of what he actually did say, what actually is true and what is fabrication.

He makes snide remarks and utters put-downs to and about his wife. They’re often couched as jokes, or even as helpful and kindly suggestions. He calls her demeaning names, but persuades her they are affectionate “pet names”.

On the other hand he often says the most reasonable and kindly things, but his utterances have gradually become meaningless. He may point out that she does too much drudgery and should take a break. She should eat better, have a rest, have more fun.

Yet by his domineering attitudes, actions and behaviour, he ensures none of this can happen. She believes his words and is confused that they do not match his actions. Despite her recognition of this disparity, the forces of coercive control remove her rationality and dampen her gut instinct.

As she listens to his words, whether they’re lies, kindness, abuse or manipulative, she tries to hear her own fading voice — but, over time, he has silenced her too often. She now silences her own voice.

If he shows her affection it is often slightly threatening. Squeezing her in bear hugs, joshingly pushing and pulling her, lifting her up in a fireman’s lift. But at other times he can be almost sugary sweet with her, stroking her  and calling her affectionate names. The affection is increased dramatically when people he wants to impress are watching.

She loses touch with her deep knowing that what he does is “not right.” But despite wanting to be herself, his subtle persistent coercive control prevails. Finally she too is swamped by the dominant social messages that women should submit to men. She succumbs.

When the UK Legislation amendments become law it will be a crime to repeatedly or continuously engage in behaviour towards another person that is controlling or coercive. It is a crime when that behaviour has a serious effect on the victim and that the controlling person knows — or ought to know — that the behaviour will have a serious effect on the victim.

He must come first and he knows what he’s doing.

My extensive in-depth research over the past 14 years reveals that men who coercively control their female partners know and ought to know that their behaviour is having a serious effect.

He coerces the relationship in such a way that she realises, when he is working, he must come first, because he is the breadwinner and puts in all this effort. When he is on holiday, or at weekends, he must come first because it is his precious leisure time. In most every case, what his wife, or his child want or need, is of no interest to him.

“Centuries of male provider privilege creep into the year 2015.”

He plans their social life, and their travel, exclusively around his friends and his family. He has trained her never to suggest meeting her own family and friends, and if she does suggest it, he says they need time on their own, have too much on, or that the child needs a quiet home. None of which applies if his friends and family are visiting.

It appears he gains pleasure from disappointing her by breaking his promises, disappointing her hopes and her expectations. He does gain more than that of course. He gains and maintains power.

He learns from dominant social messages that, in the context of an intimate relationship, he must do this to maintain the mask of a dominant form of masculinity. In pursuing this form of gender inequality he must ignore his authentic self.

That is why he extols his own generosity and munificence when he takes her for lunch, to a place he likes, to eat his choice of food, at a time that suits him. He never takes her somewhere she chooses, to give her pleasure, nor does he seek out a gift for her or for their child to please or delight them. This is his way of showing masculine independence.

He makes her wait weeks or months for essential items or help, then arbitrarily, and suddenly, grants her wish, and she must show deep gratitude for this. Many times he will never grant her wish, and she must struggle on.

He believes himself to be an “alpha male” and he persuades her to believe he is too.

This alpha male ensures the house is cold, gloomy, dirty and smelly. No matter how hard she works, he makes sure it stays like that. Except . . . when anyone he wants to impress is around. In this case it all changes to . . .  a warm house, creature comforts . . . he helps with housework . . . engages in childcare . . . house renovations and other man-about-the-house chores — in a sudden whirlwind of contrived image management.

People who witness his “caring” behaviours, wonder what is wrong with her, why she is exhausted, tired, stressed, strained and ill, when her husband is such a great guy and does everything for her.

Following months and years of assaulting her emotions, wearing down her nervous system, he creates the impression that she is unbalanced and unstable, so that people actually feel sorry for him having to put up with such a wife.

If her concerned parents suggest that he may not be so perfect, then he attacks them saying they have it in for him and he convinces his wife that her parents have got it in for him, and that they are interfering and meddlesome in-laws.

The “apparently” decent and loving husband who doesn’t beat his wife, who does not threaten her nor swear at her, convinces everyone that he’s a great guy, and also convinces his wife that he is a wonderful alpha male.

But this is an act that hides a despairingly subtle form of gender inequality.

It covers up the emotional abuse that flies unseen under the radar. 

It is socially condoned in the sense that the persistent myth says a man “owns his wife and children” and is allowed to run his own household as he sees fit. Despite the fact that most right thinking people know this is a relic from the past, the taken-for-granted “head of the household” notion persists.

Coercive Control is Criminal, unjust, debilitatingly common, yet  . . . .

It is considered normal male behaviour — he is the boss, she is there to care for him and the child. Many Judges don’t hold perpetrators accountable. Many Psychologists treat one-sided coercive control as mutual abuse. Huge swathes of the population “don’t get it”, believing merely that she is a nut case — they have no clue that coercive control traps victims.

It’s rare for social service professionals to be trained in subtle hidden coercive control and abuse. This then often leads them to unwittingly cause more harm by enabling children to be under the care of the abuser.

His friends and his family think she’s a bit weird and difficult, because he has deceived them, manipulated their minds too. He has trained his wife so well that she does not know she is being controlled and abused — he’s led her to believe she’s at fault. He leads others to believe that too.

His behaviours have a serious effect on his wife.

The proposed UK Legislation states that behaviour has a “serious effect” on the victim if it causes the victim to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against her, or it causes her serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on her usual day-to-day activities.

Coercive Control is one of the greatest risks that may lead to physical violence or murder.

Dominant social messages have trained him to control his wife. At the same time he is not forced to oppress her. . . . He chooses to oppress her.

One of the men I interviewed about his control and abuse of female partners told me:

“These days society’s changing, they don’t like violence. So if I can belittle somebody quicker with my mouth than I can with my fists, yup, I’ve learnt that over the last ten years.” —Sam

In most countries it is not illegal to do what is described in this blog. 

And the perpetrator knows that. In the UK the perpetrators of ongoing coercive control are now acting illegally. They are causing serious harm.

Domestic violence has long been talked about as a safety issue. But this story is describing coercive control with no physical violence. He is not forcing her. He is taking away her freedom and liberty.

This subtle insidious form of private domestic abuse is a centuries old, and ongoing, violation of women’s human rights. It remains a socially condoned form of domination and entrapment played out in millions of homes world-wide.

It is not about women freely choosing to be abused. It’s about the belief held by many men that they have a so-called “right” to control his “property”. And in the process, restricting women’s ability to thrive, flourish and freely pursue her hopes and dreams.

Whilst a man who controls his partner may achieve his dream and goal to be an alpha male and claim the social praise and kudos that has been given to men for centuries at the wider level of society — he unwittingly sabotages his own authentic hopes and dreams.

The criminalisation of coercive control in the UK places an ambulance at the top of the cliff, so that perpetrators of coercive control can be cut short in their tracks, held accountable early on in the relationship, before his possessiveness leads to physical violence and murder.

The new UK law says 

Any reasonable person who coercively controls others “ought to know” they are causing harm. 

Simple, really… 

Law or no law … it’s time to look at the symptoms and causes of “domestic violence in a new way”. 

Time for “any reasonable person” to speak out loud about the signs of coercion and psychological abuse they see, or suspect, is going on behind closed doors.

The Serious Crime Act 2015, Chapter 9 “explicitly criminalises patterns of coercive or controlling behaviour where they are perpetrated against an intimate partner or family member”.

I have attached the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship: Statutory Guidance Framework

Updated this page 2nd January 2016

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Meet the Author

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Judy Mar 29, 2016, 9:31 am

    Hi Clare,
    Your description of these behaviours resonate with me completely. I knew a man like this for 18 years. He would constantly come and go and would purposely treat me with respect one minute and switch to abusive behaviour, the next, in order to confuse and disorientate me. I recently logged an assault with the police which had occurred a year previous. I lost my sight through a head injury I was told (which occurred by this man) and ended up having to have my eyes operated on. I found my doctor and the eye doctor refused to support me and didn’t write what I told them and what they found in their reports. Also because this man would come and go he merely told the police ‘I never assaulted her when I was in a relationship with her’. I was engaged to this man and he told everyone in his circle he was nothing to do with me. He destroyed my life. I do not feel anyone can do anything about these men they are too evil, too manipulative and leave you in such a mess you do not feel able to go to court. This man abused me for all these years, I was in an intimate relationship with him, but he covered himself by hiding the relationship and coming and going. I do not feel I will ever recover and I feel even medical professionals won’t support you. I do not feel I could have gone to court with this man and feel this is wrong to expect victims to do this. It is like pitching someone vulnerable against a very clever psychopath!

  • Lynn Oct 5, 2015, 8:55 pm

    Hello,
    I am so glad to have found this website and to read all the stories of my fellow commenters. It makes me feel not so alone. I am in the divorce process with my controller and it has been an arduous and painful process. After 24 years of marriage I could not take it anymore and was motivated to leave by the spreading of his disrespect to me to our teenage sons. I had no input in their lives except to support them financially, including decisions about college, what money was spent, etc. he works from home and I have always worked outside with some nights and weekends, no overtime just a normal schedule. Anytime I would not be working and not home, even out with them, I would be made to feel guilty, a bad mother, a runabout. Truth is if I wanted to see family it had to be out because no one wanted to interact with him and his nasty mouth. He would very slyly put some down and others (nieces, younger sisters) would lear at and objectify, like a dirty old man. When I asked for divorce he started a campaign against me to the put our older son and him drove me out of the house. Rape, gaslighting etc. now 9 months later I’m still living with my mother he is in the house with my sons and all the assets. They are just beginning to see what a terror he is but only since my younger son so stressed he is getting physical problems as a result of living with him with no buffer (me). He has health issues and God help me but I never thought he would live this long! I didn’t want to divorce and do that to my sons but he uses his problems for sympathy and they fall for it! I should have left when they were younger. I worry they will become like him, treating women like second class citizens. My goal is to have a place of my own to be with them (pathetic after working for so long). Good luck to all of you. It is comforting to not be alone in this anymore.

  • Cammy Sep 11, 2015, 7:56 am

    Hello, I have been a victim of psychological abuse and have complex PTSD as a result of this domestic violence. Much of the distress of this abuse results in these recognizable symptoms, but there is way to recovery. I am getting help. We can recover from being a victim of this type of perpetrator. I am so glad I came across this website.

  • Gen Aug 30, 2015, 3:06 am

    My husband has taken me from a strong sassy woman to a person I hate. My kids have suffered alone with me now I am giving them to their dad because, I can’t let them go on like this. I have absolute faith that I will die of heart ache and loneliness if I don’t do something. I have no money, family, friends, hope. I have two warrants out for my arrest and no way to leave. I love him but who am I?

  • Marlena Aug 16, 2015, 4:53 am

    It has been a 21 year walk through hell. It’s unreal to live with someone 11 years and not know who they are. Once I had enough neglect and disrespect I said I’m getting a divorce. I was shocked who lived inside. I never saw this monster. All believed me to be the problem and a mother who has done very similar tactics for other sick reason. He was well aware of it all and never helped but used it. Long story. It cost me my precious son labeled (set up) as unfit no mother adored and kept more living care, labeled drug addict had not used in 21 years. By the time I got to court due to stress of his relentless agression and emotional mind games I did not look good no lawyer no help. He won and has our son. I finally told him no more.

    Let me say these people have to be exposed it would have been more humane to shoot me. It will drive a person crazy or to kill themselves. They are so good they are always believed and seen as the victim we see seen as crazy. In attempts to find protection put me in harms way 2 more times. Until I was forced for fear to lose and leave 36 years of belongings. Homeless, my success and life and name destroyed.

    He should be prosecuted for attempting to drive me insane and almost succeeded. It’s my belief this is worse than murder. How many precious souls are in mental institutions lost forever no fault of their own. Just think of them. This article and you who wrote it please continue to wake them up. I’m scared to speak when I’ve tried most just don’t care and look at you like you’re crazy. Their family and friends assist them. It is a living hell I’m just lucky by the skin of my teeth. I chose to tell him in a controlled manner what he is. This man is a very dangerous dark soul, he knowingly does this and he enjoys when no one’s watching to reinforce no matter how many years go by.

    Courts make us co-parent with these preditors of course after the court gives them custody. But the time I got to court I had 11 years of this. It is sn awful truth but it is the truth what oenalty should the juditisl system face. The judges and psycologists are part of the problem. One 11 year old hung himself. Want to commend you. Im trying to learn to live after 21 years I do not entertain abuser and women do this too. So for the men out there who have had their lives ruined. Very lonely place. It does not end when divorced get much much much worse. 🎌 marlena

  • Narissa Jul 18, 2015, 1:48 pm

    Hi Clare
    Thanks for this website.
    Ive been married almost 30 years but I am at the end of my rope. My marriage is like this. I have been thinking of leaving since my youngest was born. He is not there emotionally for me in any way and continually puts me down. Nothing I do is good enough … It’s got worse and worse, I thought it would get better.

    He comes from a very bad home life of emotional abuse but I thought because he was a Christian he wouldn’t be like that. He is just like that. I feel so beaten down. He is so nasty to me so I have no self left, I no longer resist or do things for myself. I think he has a drive to squash everything inside me then only then does he feel safe.
    He is not a faithful or respectful person but he is very good at putting on an act.

    I feel like a beaten down mess. I want to leave but have no money. He’s so disrespectful that I’m not working, yet he hates the power I have when I do work and he wants to control the money I earn, and that he earns. My second daughter is getting out of a disrespectful reltaionship too, it’s my fault I am a bad example. I thought my prayers would work, I thought he would change.

    Even my mother doesn’t support me and his parents have always tried to come between us and can’t say anything good about me. I’m actually a good caring person but I feel like a worthless pile of garbage.

    I want to leave but I’m so scared. I have four kids at home. I’m so scared I can’t get work and support myself. The last church we were in he had everyone convinced I was the problem. That hurt so much. He’s such a liar. He doesn’t love the truth.
    I wish I had never married him.

  • Rachel Jun 28, 2015, 11:03 am

    Hi Clare,

    I am in an emotionally abusive relationship. We have been together for 15 years and married for 11.
    I love him but I know I cannot stay with him. We have 2 boys, 10 and 8.
    I have found your blog and love it.

    He is definitely abusive but does meet the description of the alpha male 100%. We met when I was 16. He was boyfriend number 2. He asked for sex when I wasn’t ready. He was my first sex and only partner to this day. He asked me to prove him that I love him. That’s how I gave in. I loved and admired his artistic skills. He made me feel special. He asked me in marriage a year later. I was so young but we married when I was nearly 21. He was very jealous. At high school I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys. He was always calling and messaging to check where I was. We had arguments, I would cry, he would apologise but it would start again and again if I didn’t do as he wanted me to.

    He slowly became my everything and I was also dying to leave home because home was crazy. My mum and dad always fought. My dad couldn’t stand him and wanted me to leave him. Dad stopped talking to us. Shut both of us out until we nearly got married. He was very hurt and to this day has never totally forgiven my dad. Close to my wedding day I felt I shouldn’t marry, but I felt I had no other option.

    After high school dad wouldn’t pay for my uni fees because I didn’t leave him. Instead my husband to be, chose a specific job that he thought a female should study and do. So because of the 2 men I really loved I missed out on doing my dream job.

    Anyway we married, my family respected him and we went to all family gatherings but there was the constant reminder that my dad never loved him, my mum was a nut case and my siblings losers.

    Year after year he talked about his resentment towards people who have hurt him. He still hasn’t forgiven his parents who never showed him much affection. His dad was always in and out of jobs. They went without when his siblings and him were young. Other family members made them feel lesser because of their poverty and lack of education. My husband and his siblings have very low literacy levels.

    I accepted him the way he was. Never made him feel inferior. I always praised and admired him. He depends on me for paperwork and things like that. I am ok with that. But he always finds fault in me.

    When our children were babies, he almost never helped. Now that they are big and doing sports, he expects them to excel. He puts them down when they don’t to their best.

    He even said once that I am a bad mum. They apparently always misbehave when I am home. I feel my kids have a lot of pressure on them. He rarely spends quality time with them. I cannot intervene when he is scolding or being too harsh on them. If I do, we have huge arguments and he says how he doesn’t intervene when I talk to them. That I make him look ridiculous in front of them.

    The abuse is verbal and emotional. We are reminded that we don’t do enough, that all we have is thanks to his hard work. I feel like my hard work doesn’t count. We live in a beautiful home that feels like a golden prison. We are reminded that we have a mortgage to pay, bills, etc.

    I don’t want the children’s self esteem to take a toll, but at this stage I can’t just leave with them. I have been reading about this a lot. And this website is the best. I am planning to start putting money aside. My plan is to leave in 5 years time. My biggest fear is that he might hurt my kids if I leave. When he becomes angry he scares us. I don’t know what he is capable of. My thought is when my boys will be nearly 16 and 14, we will be stronger.

    Sometimes I doubt myself thinking I have issues.

    Wish me strength and luck. Thank you for this space.

  • Sunshine May 17, 2015, 1:22 pm

    Hi, Your blog pretty much tells my story. I have been through everything in your blog except physical abuse.
    I had lost my identity over so many years of abuse. With the help of a friend I’m learning to live and be myself again and feel like a real person. My husband is trying the same ways of controlling me but it’s working less. But it’s still so hard. He pretends to be perfect, but in the house he is everything you described. How do I make him get help? I’m sick of living like this.

  • Vanessa Apr 29, 2015, 12:36 am

    I am outraged by TV Shows like “Marriage at First Sight” which attempts to make light of arranged marriages. Cultural and Social practices need to be clearly and fairly examined not glorified in the name of reality TV. Power imbalances do not have to be “the way the world works” and the perceptions that feed into them do not have to be conceived as “normal” behaviour.

    Nobody should ever be coerced into a relationship of any kind. This is at least one cultural practice that feeds into intimate partner abuse.

    I also believe that both women and men are often pushed into sexual or intimate relationships by others to seem normal, and that they often go through these forced relationships not ever really understanding the context of intimacy in their own life.

    Sharing my life with someone is only possible for me when I can stand on my own two feet first. While I am thankful to the kindness of others I do not believe feeling obligated to return kindness should keep me in my place or subjugate anyone.

    If you love someone, set them FREE . . . . VTS

  • Sarah Feb 14, 2015, 1:20 am

    Hi Clare,

    I have come across this website when doing some personal research. I work with victims of domestic violence and abuse and have often wanted to ask someone about aspects of my own relationship but have felt unable to.
    My husband is a professional, he is very intelligent, articulate, can be extremely charming. He is a very logical person and doesn’t always consider the emotion in things. It’s very rare that I would get a birthday or Christmas present from him. He puts me down a lot, calls me names and laughs at me, although this is often done in a ‘jokey’ way. If I say I mind he says I have no sense of humour, I have often thought it was him misjudging the situation, being ‘lad-ish’ with the wrong audience, now I’m not so sure. He doesn’t do a lot of what I have read about, he doesn’t control money or stop me seeing people, but will blame me if we have no money as I always ‘buy crap’. He can be incredibly rude to me, I know it has shocked a few of my friends and family before. He puts his needs first generally and doesn’t help around the house as ‘he works all week’. I work three days too, we have two children. He often criticises when I do things, telling me I could do better if….. And my cooking ‘lacks that attention to detail’. I often check with him before I make decisions, sometimes that’s wrong as ‘I should think for myself’ and sometimes ‘I never ask his opinion’. If we have a row he will shout and not talk to me for a few days until I apologise, I know I need to today but I’m not sure why. Is he just a normal selfish man? I love him very much, he has wonderful aspects, but I don’t think he realises how he makes me feel.

  • Kathleen Feb 10, 2015, 1:07 am

    ‘Cold, gloomy, dirty and smelly’ – keeps people from being invited over for a visit or even wanting to come in. It’s also the physical manifestation of the emotional truth of a household. My mother’s house was always clean, tidy and warm when my father was away from it and it’s been the same in my marriage. When the men return everything reverts to abnormal. My husband showed disrespect towards my space and my life from the first date. It bothered me, but until the internet revealed deeper study of subtle abuses all these years later I just never realized I could have and should have gotten angry and even removed him from my home. Over the years I’ve eventually endured every one of the abuses listed in this blog. But he’s never hit me….
    Thank you for your good heart and for your work Clare. Today I am going to tell my husband that I’ve been secretly doing a night school course online late at night. I’ve been so terrified he’d find out. I’m 61 years old but act like a scared 5 year old and hate myself for what I’ve allowed my life to become – cold, gloomy, dirty and smelly.

    • Clare Murphy PhD Feb 10, 2015, 9:26 am

      Take care Kathleen. Follow your gut instinct about spilling the beans. Keeping things private – from someone who abuses and controls you – is good practice. It may go against your value system to keep your activities private, but if you are doing so to keep yourself safe then safety is a priority (as opposed to 100% honesty all the time). Clare

  • JM Jan 15, 2015, 8:46 am

    Hi Clare, I think your blog is excellent!

    It actually affected me even though I’ve worked through so much of the psychological abuse I have suffered – it triggered me again around the subtleness of it, which can mean that when women are reading it, no matter what stage they are at in their process to find freedom, it will connect with them and deeply. The subtleness of this type of abuse is just so debilitating and awful, and the horrible thing is the twisted stuff which causes caring women to really doubt themselves and think it’s them. It has taken, is still taking, ages to unfurl from this and sometimes I forget just how horrible and powerful it all was. I am so thankful I am out of it now, but I think it’s important to remember what we went through and use it to stay very aware, because someone like me may be so used to making sure everyone else is ok, and not pay enough attention to themselves or what they need at all. So it is easy to minimise the effects. I think part of my healing has been engaging with and allowing myself to feel the effects and then grieve and heal. Reading this helped me to see how far I’ve come, but also how there are still parts of me really hurting from what happened. It has been so important to figure out what he did that was HIS stuff, what I did that was MY stuff, what was the “can’t” of personal and genetic limits, and then work through the guilt of leaving, which for me was linked to my old religious beliefs. BUT in saying that, there are still some deep values I live by spiritually which also have had their bearing on me around leaving and the question of what true love really is, which I don’t think includes totally cutting off from people – so there is another layer in working all this through, for me.

    Thanks heaps… I want to help and do more in some way to help women living with the subtle stuff… I can’t wait to read your books. JM