CONTROLLING RELATIONSHIPS - HOW TO DEAL WITH BULLIES
Updated: May 22
Emotional abuse and controlling relationships go hand in hand. After all, abuse of any kind is nothing else but a tool of control...
Unavoidably, every one of us will at some point in our lives encounter a form of psychological abuse as for every abuser there is not one but many victims! I count myself amongst the fortunate ones who know exactly how these offenders operate, hence can smell one from a mile away. Today, I don’t see myself as a victim and can safely say that I was truly a victim of my own unawareness. Uneducated on how controlling behaviour looks like, I was blind to the emotional abuse I endured daily. I thought I was lucky to be his partner and believed that my problems were a part of any long term relationship. This illusion of mine was cemented in my mind mainly due to experiencing similar behaviour coming from my carers. It wasn’t until few years back that I learned a priceless lesson: Normality isn’t always healthy. It is simply what we know. And what I knew as OK was its polar opposite...
Typically women who end up in controlling relationships seek safety and security above all. They are looking for a strong male, often times a caring father figure missing from their childhood, who will fight their corner. Someone they can trust to feel protected for which they are willing to give up their power. From ordering a meal for her to choosing her outfit for dinner - you only got to watch the Fifty Shades (a glorified version of a controlling relationship) to see how this plays out. Allowing him to take charge is refreshingly comforting at first. When the control isn’t handed back to her is when she learns to have mistaken a man’s power for his strength…
At the start of an abusive relationship the need for control can come disguised as generosity, attentiveness, concern and support. Keen to make his woman feel taken care of, he is much interested in what pains her, eagerly providing [read unsolicited] advice. Making her feel protected, she feels like her life has finally gained a sense of comfort and direction. His confidence, success and aspirations excite her. Having a strong minded partner who knows what he wants implies that he chose her above all - a great self-esteem lift! It is not by chance that controlling men pick women with a low self-esteem to woo. They are comfortable with crushing the boundaries of others and sense a kind [read easy to manipulate], peace loving [read obedient] and caring [read self-neglectful] soul from afar. Picking a strong, self assured, emotionally mature woman is a risky business for a fragile Ego. Testing the waters right from the start (from being cheeky to being down right rude), the lady is willing to overlook a red flag galore in order to become the chosen One.
Controlling men excel in making a woman feel special. Their Ego thrives on putting others under their spell, and once they do they will do what they must in order to remain in control. Buying her love and attention with pricey gifts, wine and dining her, booking expensive holidays or extravagant surprises, makes every day feel like a never ending adventure, leaving her gagging for more.
And she sure is gagged when he sheds his charming cocoon, allowing the monster to finally come out. From attending to her every need to demanding his needs become her top priority, the roller-coaster of conditional love has departed. Although the word respect forms a hight proportion of his vocalulary and is demanded from anything that moves, it is entirely absent in his own actions. Drawing his naive victim into arguments she had lost before they even started, her opposition (no matter how valid, logic or fair!) can cause an abusive storm. Ruthlessly unapologetic and highly manipulative, a righteous man shamelessly flaunts his double. Making his victim feel remorseful, ashamed and downright bad about herself, which is how in time her abuser chips away at her sense of value and sanity. Feeling worthless, she is less likely to oppose and leave such relationship because he intentionally created an imbalance of power to suit his agenda...
After years of repeated emotional abuse, women end up feeling anxious, insignificant, and doubting their own sanity. Their dream for a happy family shattered, their self-esteem hammered down with daily supply of criticism from those they hoped to find love, safety and security in.
Sadly and predictably, the terror and manipulation doesn’t end with ending an abusive relationship. Right the opposite as the abuser finds it unthinkable that someone chose to drop him like a bag of stinky poo. Frequent name calling, put downs, harrassment, with agression he targets her weaknesses and insecurities. He is willing to do anything to tear down her defences, to undermine her, and to further distort the truth. He lies, makes excuses and hides important facts, yet boldly accuses her of the exact same. Using topic specific vocabulary, 'intellectual bullying' can be used, particularly when discussing subjects he believes to be the expert on in order to force her into submission. From a demand to answer an email late at night, threatening to involve authorities if things aren't going how he stipulated, to an intimidating request for a confirmation (the tactics to evoke fear) the abuser’s strategies are endless. Acting from a higher moral ground, he makes her feel degraded and ungrateful, truly believing in his self-elevated status. Confirmation of his goodness is then received with thanks when accepting standing ovations from his chosen followers. And there are many willing to support him! They, too, fell for his charm, unaware of the deep cutting hooks of his opulently displayed generosity...
Abusers will pay literally anything to buy the desired perception of the public. Craving to be popular, they need to look good because on the inside they feel never good enough. Those who dare to question their 'truth' and integrity are stripped of their rights for a happy, peaceful existence.
Do you have a bully in your life who is endlessly attacking and blaming you for their own shortcomings, making your day to day life a never ending battlefield because he or she cannot stand that you have moved on without them? Are you dealing with an insecure and emotionally immature individual who desperately needs to feel in control of your happiness, or at least see that you are worse off without him/her to finally feel better about himself/herself?
Fistly, understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. It is not your fault they choose to respond in destructive ways to assert themselves. You must accept that they will never change. This is extremely important as at times they may seem nicer towards you. It has much to do with them feeling better about themselves for whatever reason there is. Typically, if their life goes tits up they will try to use you as their emotional punch bag. They have been doing it long enough and in their mind (no matter how screwed up this sounds) you are still their property.
Reduce contact with them to a bare minimum. They won't bring an ounce of positivity into your existence no matter how much they plead they have changed. If you cannot cut them out of your life all together set strong boundaries and stand tall to reiterate them at every opportunity. It may seem like a waste of time considering their total and repeated ignorance of your wishes, but in time they will get the message. This is how you re-create your sanctuary where you surround yourself with a fortress of people who deserve to be there. Those who aren't scared of the abuser and who will fight your corner. Those who have your best interests as their top priority with no strings attached. If you are being repeatedly harrassed you may need to involve relavant authorities in order to protect you.
Take time for yourself to heal your heart and learn to unconditionally love you - the best defence against the feelings of worthlessness manipulators attempt to smear you with! Talk to people with experience who will help you to restore your mental wellbeing and emotional equilibrium. It is extremely important to gain an outside perspective. Abuse and control is not OK no matter how justified it may seem! Your life belongs to you so learn everything there is to know about yourself and recognise the red flags of a controlling relationship. The best gift to you and the sweetest revenge for your abusers (not that they matter anyway), is that you become the happy, confident, emotionally stable, self-assured person which can be no longer manipulated.
Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.
Copyright © 2020 Michaela Patel