We grow up controlled by our parents. We get to school and are controlled by our principals. When you start a job you are controlled by your supervisor. Being a functioning member of society seems to involve giving up a lot of control to others.
There are times when controllers in our lives begin to leverage their power over us. There is the boss who uses job security as a way to make you to work weekends, the partner who withholds finances, or the preacher who weaponizes guilt to control your behavior.
The line between control and abuse is a thin one. If someone in your life is using any of the following behaviors, they may have crossed that line:
- Yelling, screaming, and using degrading and demeaning language
- Shutting down emotionally and not talking or responding to your need to discuss problems
- Withholding affection, financial help, or anything else they think you need from them
- Hitting, shoving, punching, and kicking
- Drinking, doing drugs and other addictive behaviors
There are many different types of abuse as well:
Academic Abuse – preventing you from studying, mocking you for studying too much, accusing you of choosing school over him/her
Economic Abuse – refusing to let you work, demanding an accounting of the money you spend, seizing all of your money
Emotional/Psychological Abuse – threatening to self-harm, not letting you talk to friends, mocking your emotions, regularly threatening to leave
Physical Abuse – pinning you down, locking you out, harming your pets
Sexual Abuse – forcing you to perform sex, withholding sex as a punishment, unwanted touching
Verbal Abuse – mocking you in front of others, purposely making hurtful comments, yelling
As you can see there are many ways a person can be exposed to abuse and almost all begin with an attempt to controlling your time, behavior, or your freedom.
Here are some resources to learn about the differences between being a controlling person and being an abusive person:
Love is Respect – is this abuse?
Here is a page with an extensive list of abuse support groups:
Psychcentral – Support Groups
If you are being abused, or think you are being abused, you can use the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE).
Don’t go through this alone. Talk to a trusted friend or a professional. This is your life. No other person ever has the right to abuse you.