ABIGAILS…Support Group for Women with an Abusive Partner
POWER, CONTROL AND BOUNDARIES
During the 1995 domestic murder trial of O.J.
Simpson, "on the street" interviews revealed a variety of public
opinions about domestic violence. Some
said it is a private matter. Some called
it a "love spat" common to most couples. Despite
These views reflect the confusion and myths that surround domestic violence and its causes. In the midst of such confusion, it is important to keep in mind the definition of domestic violence: It is a pattern of coercive, intimidating, or assaultive behavior used to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abusers often have an extensive arsenal of tactics they will use to gain and maintain control over their targets, get their way, and silence their victims. These tactics frequently include:
· Controlling their victim's time, activities, goals, social life, money, and energy
· Manipulation through charm, promises, lies, silence, threats, or intimidation
· Isolating their victims or prohibiting them from working
· Causing the victim to doubt herself or to become confused by playing "mind games," undermining the victim's self esteem, or blaming her for the abuse.
These abuse tactics are attacks on the victim's freedoms, resources, will, and emotions. They also violate the normal boundaries usually found in relationships. Boundaries and limits help to balance power and control in relationships. Since domestic violence is about the misuse of power and control, it is little wonder that abusers are often boundary violators or boundary haters who resist attempts by others to set boundaries or limits on their behavior. Frequently a victim can get better results by setting boundaries around herself. This can mean clearly expressing what is OK for her and what is not, or what she will or will not do (if she feels it is safe to do so). For example, she may say to someone, "I will only wash your clothes if they are placed in the laundry hamper." Or she may say, "You can continue to drink or use drugs, but if you do, I will not stay here with the children." In the end, the only person we can attempt to change or control is ourselves, anyway.
Boundaries and limits help us to protect ourselves and to maintain God-given control and dominion over our lives. Boundaries skills can help us at home, at work, at church, with our children, our neighbors, our relatives, our time, our resources, and our goals.
1. Look through the list of tactics frequently used by abusers. How does each type of weapon help an abuser gain control over a victim? Which ones can cause victims to become dependent on the abuser?
2. How did your abuser react to your attempts to set boundaries on his behavior?
3. In what area of your life do you most desire to set some boundaries or achieve balance and control?