Actually it can happen very easily. Take a man who still believes that men should be powerful, dominant, and take charge and control things or people. Take a women who also believes this and wants to be taken care of by such a strong male (be masterful darling!). This situation may suit them both at first. But then abuse can easily creep in if the male decides to be more dominant (because he can be), and exercise his power and control over every aspect of the relationship.
To maintain his power and control he firstly isolates his partner from her family and support system. This move makes the woman more dependent on him and the scene is set for some serious brainwashing. Because there are few if any outside reality checks the male’s beliefs, wishes and desires now become the new norm for the relationship. He tightens the control, and sets new rules for behaviours which the woman must now adhere to. Gradually, and over time her perception becomes more inward looking, her actions must be pleasing for her partner and she tries not to displease him and “get into trouble”. Any outside reality checks are non-existent, or discounted by the male. With brainwashing the victim does not at first realise what is happening.
The change can be very subtle as she senses his displeasure with any of her independent behaviour or thought, and she begins to fear the consequences of his displeasure more as time goes on. He on the other hand senses her fear, and this makes him feel more powerful and in control.
The control may be very subtle sometimes and be seen as “caring” and “wrapping the little lady in cotton wool” to protect her. But she is still under his control, and he can seem so nice! He may appear to be very personable and cheerful to others, and the couple seem happy, if a little exclusive. Members of her family may notice that they have been phased out of communications and normal visits. He may even take her interstate or out of the country to maintain control.
Once the woman becomes pregnant, has a baby and stops any outside work she becomes totally involved in domestic duties, and the control gets stronger, and violence can happen at this time as the man believes that she and the child are now his property. She is bearing his child. It is also more difficult for the woman to leave once she has children.
The woman gradually becomes more stressed, as unconsciously she feels trapped. Her friends and family are discouraged from contacting her, and verbal and emotional abuse may escalate which humiliates the woman and makes her feel worthless. She believes him when he says she is stupid and helpless. He may tell her how hopeless and incompetent she is and how she could not cope without him. He may tell her how everything is to be done, how to dress, choose her clothes, and soon she only has very trivial things to have control over, and she feels generally helpless.
The woman becomes worn out and stressed, when she has to “walk on eggshells” to avoid any punishment. She feels intimidated, depressed, and anxious, especially if she has to endure his anger, rage, or threats of physical violence. Seemingly small things will cause him to fly into a rage, but sometimes to confuse her, he may be nice, giving her gifts, or indulging her in some way. This builds up her hope and makes her feel that all is well. But this only lasts a short while until she displeases him, and he begins to threaten her again. This is called The Cycle of Violence.
Abusive men (and women) all seem to use these methods, and it is as if they have read the same book on how to control others. Actually a man called Biderman described these methods after interviewing prisoners of war, and the brainwashing they were subjected to while imprisoned. The details are in Biderman’s Chart of Coercion. Churches and Sects can use exactly the same tactics with the same results – power and control over fearful adherents. (See abusers are EXPERTS).
©Kathleen Crawford 2017