We often meet new clients who describe behaviour to us
that we recognise as having features of an abusive relationship. Most of the time the client is not sure about describing the relationship as abusive. That is especially true if the main characteristic of the relationship is not physical violence but emotional control.
Most abusive relationships do not come with a handy tag on that says “this is abuse”. There may be some violence, people reason to themselves, but “it’s not violent enough”, or, “I provoked it” or “it’s just a push, no one punched me”.
ALWAYS other controlling behaviours accompany the violence. And MOST of the abusive relationships we see have physically aggressive behaviour, but not all.
The trickiest stuff to put your finger on is the very subtle, sly, and snaky stuff that is coercive control. All abusive relationships are about power and control that is exercised illegitimately over another person. One of the best ways to show these behaviours is by looking at the Wheel of Power and control here. Do you find yourself nodding when you look at some of the sections? Is it familiar? Knowing what is happening to you is the first step to regaining ownership of your life and how you look, who you see, what you spend and where you go.
There are also three very common marks of coercive control which are not on the wheel:
When you start to escape the control
there is a consequence; e.g.: “if you leave me, I will take the kids”. “If you go out with those friends “I will sulk”
Arguments are wearing
forced upon you and about very minor issues that only you understand the importance of: the argument is about the remote control, but really it is about the hogging of the telly while you do all the housework. If you kick up a fuss, then even your mum will think you are being petty. This tactic prevents the victim from seeking help, because it all sounds so stupid.
If you get near to identifying some behaviour
that is coercive and controlling the abuser starts to get a bit sweaty as they realise you are about to bust them. Suddenly the arguments shift, they stop answering the real question and start diverting the conversation to the one time you did something not quite perfectly… before you know it you are in the wrong again and you lose your mojo. You are somehow less equal in the relationship than ever before.
Spotting these signs is often the first time a person feels empowered enough to seek legal help. If you need advice our first appointment is only £60 and takes as long as it takes. Call now to book an appointment for you or a friend.