Let’s Talk – Control. Most domestic and family abuse is NOT physical.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I’ve been working with a client who has come to see me about her daughter’s anxiety but very soon she began to see that really we were talking about her.
Most domestic and family abuse is NOT physical.
Power and Coercive Control is one of the lesser talked about difficulties in relationships.
Safe relationships, equality, caring, sharing and other compassionate qualities are often slowly eroded away by controlling partners leaving people as mere shadows of their former selves – mentally and emotionally shattered and often exhausted.
Often it is not obvious & it’s not just men who control – it can be women too – as control is often due to events that have happened in a person’s past.
Healthy relationships are in a constant state of flow & balance but respect & give & take require both partners to recognise when to give … & when to take .. or when to stand firm.
Respect isn’t about capitulating constantly to please a partner – in fact standing up to a partner often gains more respect than lying down and rolling over.
Respect in a relationship is reflected in how you treat each other on a daily basis. Even if you disagree or have an argument (and arguments do happen, even in healthy relationships!) you are able to respect and value each other’s opinions and feelings by “fighting” fair.
People have a lot of different ideas about what the word “respect” means.
Respect means upholding the basic right that every person has to make their own choices and feel safe & relaxed in their own daily lives.
In healthy relationships partners are equals.
In healthy relationships respect means that neither partner has “authority” over the other. Each partner is free to live their own life, which can include deciding to share some aspects of their life with their partner.
Respect also means that, while we may not always agree with our partners we choose to trust them and put faith in their judgment.
This trust can be built over time as your relationship progresses and you learn more about each other.
Respect means you don’t lose yourself to please your partner.
Respect isn’t about controlling someone or making them do what you want them to do. Respect is actually about the freedom to be yourself and to be loved for who you are.
In a healthy relationship, respect looks like:
- Talking openly and honestly with each other
- Listening to each other
- Valuing each other’s feelings and needs
- Speaking kindly to and about each other
- Giving each other space
- Supporting each other’s interests, hobbies, careers, etc.
- Building each other up
- Honouring each other’s boundaries no matter what.
While it’s important to respect your partner in a relationship, it’s also really important to have respect for yourself, whether you’re single or dating.
Self-respect is the key to building confidence and maintaining healthy relationships with other people throughout your life.
Here’s an important article from Speaking Out.
How to muster the courage to break free from bad relationships.
Change requires courage.
The first step towards change is courage and awareness. You have to be honest about the ways you are losing yourself.
- What are the costs to you of being controlled by others?
- Are you even aware that you are starting to change to please your partner?
- Do you feel respected for your own opinions, your own values – do you even have any?
Love should not hurt.
Women’s Aid helps thousands of women escape abuse.
Women’s Aid is a grassroots federation working together to provide life-saving services in England and build a future where domestic abuse is not tolerated.