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Some Resources for Recognising and Dealing with Dysfunctional Relationships

(29 Posts)
theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:04:34

Thought it might be handy to have this in one place, so...

Recognising Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Many forms of abuse are obviously cruel. Emotional abuse is more subtle. Quite often such abuse goes unseen, as even the victim does not recognize that she is being abused.

Although emotional abuse does not leave black eyes or visible bruises, it is often more seriously damaging to your self-esteem. Emotional abuse is cruel and scars your soul. Physical or sexual abuse is always accompanied and often follows emotional abuse, i.e. emotional battering is used to wear the victim down - often over a long period of time - to undermine her self-concept until she is willing to take responsibility for her abuser's actions and behaviour towards her or simply accept it.

There are many categories of emotional/psychological abuse. They encompass a variety of behaviors that will be easily recognisable by those experiencing them, and often remain completely unnoticed by others. They include:

The abuser will control whom the victim sees, where she goes, whom she speaks to and what she does. This can take the form of simply not allowing her to use the phone, have her friends round or visit her family, or ensuring it simply isn't worth it by being in a bad mood because she left some housework undone, making her feel guilty that she was out enjoying herself while he worked, or even encouraging her - theoretically - to make friends, and then discounting them or complaining that she cares more for her friends/family/hobby than she does him or is neglecting him. Some abusers may move home frequently to prevent their victim from building a social support network.

Many abusers justify their control over their victim by stating that it is proof of their love, or that they worry about their safety when out, etc. In reality however, the abuser needs to isolate his victim to feel secure themselves, they feel as though any relationship, be it family, friend or colleague, will undermine their authority over and take their partner away from them, i.e. poses a threat. The effect of this isolation is that the victim feels very alone in her struggle, doesn't have anyone with whom to do a 'reality check', and is ultimately more dependant on the abuser for all her social needs.

Forms of Isolation include:

o checking up on you
o accusing you of unfaithfulness
o moving to an isolated area
o ensuring you lack transport or a telephone
o making your friends or family feel uncomfortable when visiting so that they cease
o punishing you for being 10 minutes late home from work by complaining, bad moods, criticism or physical abuse
o not allowing you to leave the house on your own or taking away your passport
o demanding a report on your actions and conversations
o preventing you from working
o not allowing any activity which excludes him
o finding fault with your friends/family
o insisting on taking you to and collecting you from work

In extreme cases the victim may be reduced to episodes of literally becoming a prisoner, being locked in a room and denied basic necessities, such as warmth, food, toilet or washing facilities. Other family members or the perpetrators friends can also be used to 'keep an eye on' the victim, acting effectively as prison guards.

Verbal Abuse
When thinking of Verbal Abuse we tend to envisage the abuser hurling insulting names at the victim, and while this obviously does happen, there are many more forms than name-calling. The abuser may use critical, insulting or humiliating remarks (e.g. you've got a mind like ditchwater; you're stupid; etc.), he may withhold conversation and refuse to discuss issues, or he may keep you up all night insisting on talking when you need sleep.

Verbal abuse undermines your sense of worth, your self-concept (i.e. who you think you are) by discounting your ideals, opinions or beliefs.

Verbal abuse can include:

o yelling or shouting at you
o making threats
o insulting you or your family
o being sarcastic or mocking about or criticising your interests, opinions or beliefs
o humiliating you either in private or in company
o sneering, growling, name-calling
o withholding approval, appreciation, or conversation
o refusing to discuss issues which are important to you
o laughing or making fun of you inappropriately
o leaving nasty messages
o accusing you of unfaithfulness, not trying hard enough or purposely doing something to annoy
o blaming you for his failures or other forms of abuse

All of these abusive behaviors prohibit normal, healthy interaction between two adults as well as a lack of respect for individual thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

A healthy, mutual interaction and conversation between two persons respects and promotes the right of each partner to their own individual thoughts, perceptions and values.

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:06:05

Main Link for Womens Aid

Telephone 0808 2000 247. They can call you back if you can't afford a long conversation, or can't have it show up on your bill.

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:12:00

For when you're involved with a grown-up but still having problems

Relate - "Relate offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support face-to-face, by phone and through this website."

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:15:18

Reality's most splendid thread on what relationships should be

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:17:18

Recognising a narcissistic personality

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:23:47

Feel free to join in?

mumonthenet Fri 24-Apr-09 23:30:08


I think your thread is fantastic and useful.

May not be many replies but it is so important to highlight the other forms of abuse which are not just physical violence.

GlastonburyGoddess Fri 24-Apr-09 23:33:14

Its so sad to see. my bf has a partner that does as above. have tried to help. have now got to stage where ive had to back off since jan as i cant cope with the situation, feel guilty but hes so controling and he twists everything tells lies, makes out her friends are against her etc etc and its sooo uncomfortable being in the house when hes there, hes always so "pleasant" whilst im sat there thinking "i know what your like, you dont fool me"

mumonthenet Fri 24-Apr-09 23:35:22

glastonbury don't give up.

there is a chapter in Lundy Bancroft's book about how to support someone who is being emotionally abused.

Above all don't give up.

theDreadPirateRoberts Fri 24-Apr-09 23:38:39

Do you have an amazon link you can post mumonthenet?

Alambil Fri 24-Apr-09 23:43:50

Lundy Bancroft

madameovary Sat 25-Apr-09 00:03:31

There is also a fantastic book by Pat Craven called "living with the dominator" which I ordered and arrived today. Can't post a link right now as on phone but google her name and/or book title and you will find it.

MomentaryLapseOfReason Sat 25-Apr-09 08:14:39

Relate won't counsel abused women or abusers, they refer you to Women's Aid.

junglist1 Sat 25-Apr-09 09:30:08

I agree Relate wouldn't really work, and in some cases could put the woman in physical danger. However some therapists do work with abusive relationships and there should be some kind of guidelines that counsellors who do this should have a deep understanding of the dynamics of these relationships, and the tactics of abusers.

madameovary Sat 25-Apr-09 09:54:50

Links as promised:

How to tell if they are changing their abusive behaviour

Warning signs of abusive behaviour

Children and domestic abuse Surviving after separation]]

Myths and Facts about Domestic Abuse

Why couples counselling does not work in abusive relationships

From Lundy Bancroft regarding how men confuse love and abuse

Traumatic Bonding - Essential Reading!

More Lundy Bancroft on this Forum, re Custody and Visitation Issues, dont be put off by the title

Snorbs Sat 25-Apr-09 10:15:21

There's a good, very readable overview of abusive behaviours here.

Snorbs Sat 25-Apr-09 10:22:53

For male victims of domestic abuse, you can contact:

Men's Advice Line - 0808 801 0327

ManKind - 01823 334244

madameovary Sat 25-Apr-09 12:18:11

Snorbs, thanks for that. If you have experiences you'd like to share on the subject, I'd be interested.

Snorbs Sun 26-Apr-09 23:38:44

madameovary, as always with these things, the full story is very long. The short version is that my ex was frequently, powerfully emotionally abusive and infrequently violent. Her abuse was linked to her alcohol problems, both of which got worse as she got older. We split a few years ago after her behaviour reached a point where I could no longer bury my head in the sand about the effects it was having on me and the kids.

Making sure the kids were safe was a nightmare and one that is still not fully resolved, although they do at least live full-time with me after Social Services got involved. Having a stable, consistent and above all loving home here with me has gone a long, long way to help my children weather the storms of their mother continuing to drift in and out of their lives. Life's a hell of a lot better for me, too.

theDreadPirateDavina Tue 28-Apr-09 21:01:30

Respect Phoneline for perpetrators of abuse

RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion Tue 28-Apr-09 21:11:37

Message withdrawn

madameovary Fri 01-May-09 18:35:41


Cloudbase Sun 03-May-09 07:14:06

Dear all, apologies but being a total luddite, I don't know how to re-name these links, but these will take you to the Amazon pages for:-

1. Living with the Dominator - Pat Craven

2. Why Does he Do That - Lundy Bancroft

3. Power & Control - why charming men make dangerous lovers - Sandra Horley

4. Verbally Abusive Relationships - how to recognize them and how to respond - Patricia Evans

5. Controlling People - How to recognise and understand people who try to control you - Patricia Evans

6. The Verbally Abusive Man - can he change and knowing when to leave - Patricia Evans

All really good and well worth a read (over and over until it sinks in that this is not your fault) ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-1 425191656/ref=sr12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-2 Charming-Dangerous-Lovers/dp/0091884322/ref=sr14?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-4

http:/ / =books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-3 /0091884322/ref=sr14?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-4 g-People-Recognize-Understand-Control/dp/158062569X/ref=sr15?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241330694&sr=8-5 ks&qid=1241330857&sr=8-2

Cloudbase Sun 03-May-09 07:21:31

Just read the info at the side bar - sorry!!

Links as per above for some excellent and very helpful books - hold your heads high ladies - we are worth so much more than this.

All really good and well worth a read (over and over until it sinks in that this is not your fault)

Living with the Dominator

Why Does he Do That

Power & Control - why charming men make dangerous lovers

Verbally Abusive Relationships - how to recognize them and how to respond

Controlling People - How to recognise and understand people who try to control you

The Verbally Abusive Man - can he change and knowing when to leave

amber32002 Sun 03-May-09 15:04:44

Others forms of abusive behaviour:

Financial - keeping a close watch of every penny you spend, expecting you to produce receipts for everything, querying every penny you spend. Making you ask for money. Keeping you short of money. Making it impossible for you to earn money by either forbidding you to work, persuading you not to when you'd like to, or creating such emotional havoc when you go to work that you end up having to hand in your notice.

Spiritual - saying that if only you were a proper (whichever faith it is), you'd know that you were supposed to obey your husband. That God is angry with you for daring to speak back to him in this way, or for not giving him sex on demand etc. That if you don't do as you're told, you'll go to hell. That if you want to earn the right to go to your place of worship, you must do X or Y for him first. Using the congregation at your place of worship to keep you in line, e.g. making sure they think you're unstable and therefore making sure they don't believe you. Getting your religious leader to trust him totally so that you are seen as the 'problem one'.

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