SOCIAL ABUSE

Social abuse overlaps with other forms of abuse already mentioned. The woman is isolated from friends and family, and excuses are made for not continuing to socialise with friends, or having an enjoyable night out. Slowly the only relationship she ends up having is with her abusive partner.

Her friends and family are criticised and ostracised persistently and she is forcibly discouraged from speaking with or spending time with other people, including neighbours.

The abuser usually monitors phone calls and emails, and if the woman is on the telephone when the abuser is home he will hang around and listen to the conversation, and object if it is from someone he does not approve of. He will either take her mobile, or monitor all calls on it.

I came across a situation where the abuser had kindly provided a phone with answering machine for his woman friend. She was constantly puzzled as he seemed to know of her activities. It was in the days when you could buy a phone with answering machine that had two facilities for retrieving the messages from the answering machine. He did not tell her that he had kept one for himself.

Abusers will sometimes install “bugs” to monitor her movements. Bugs can be either in her car if she has one, or in the house. A GPS can be a boon for an abuser. Another way of monitoring her movements is to hire a private detective, or to ring her constantly to ask what she is doing, and with whom. An abuser may also monitor her activity on the computer, and on face book or other social media. These tactics are common with partners having a mental illness.

Linked with the above behaviour is that of Stalking where the stalker makes phone calls or sends many text messages, hangs around someone’s home or place of work, leaves notes on their car or has flowers delivered. They also monitor the person’s use of social media as mentioned above.

Stalking and following someone in the street is more obvious, as is staring at them in a public place, and the behaviour is also about power and control in a creepy way. Stalking should be reported.

Control of achievement

Sometimes an abusive partner will attempt to thwart the partner’s success either in the business or academic arena. Withholding all interest, encouragement or recognition in the achievement of the other is a good tactic to discourage them. Any achievement or success if very threatening to the abuser. In a book called “The Prize and The Price” (Dr Susan Kelly), the author noted that while “tradies” were pleased with their women returning to further study and proud of the achievements, men who already had high academic qualifications could not cope with their partners returning to study.

Their view of themselves as the “highly educated one” in the family was threatened and they fought tooth and nail to block their partner’s progress towards academic achievement. Tactics used were no co-operation, acknowledgement or help in any way, “forgetting” they had promised to help, burning her books, “forgetting” to drop in essays for the women, and generally being obstructive with the aim of discouraging her and getting her to stop studying.

© Kathleen Crawford 2017