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Controlling Relationships, The 4 Ways an Abuser Controls His or Her Victim
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Abuse is fundamentally about control. Violence may be a manifestation of relationship abuse, but domestic abuse is really about control. And the perpetrator can’t bear to be out of control. When perpetrators feel they are losing control, their means to exercise control escalates.

What are the primary ways an abuser controls his/her victim:

1) Always being right
The abuser truly believes in one perspective: his/her own. They are always right, therefore making you wrong when there is a difference between your perspective and theirs. They hold their power in having the final say…having their way.

2) Sense of entitlement
The abuser lives from an egocentric perspective. He/she doesn’t see you for who you are, only for how you fulfill his/her wishes. They see the world through one set of eyes: their own. And they believe those around them exist merely to support their vision.

3) Manipulates to leverage
The abuser is highly manipulative. He/She utilizes a punishment reward system of withholding what supports you as your punishment (negative reinforcement) and promises of what supports you as your reward (positive reinforcement).

4) Batterers to make a point and get their way
The abuser uses direct battering (verbal, emotional, mental, psychological, physical or sexual) to establish and maintain unequal power in the relationship.

If you are in a relationship with an intimate partner, a friend, co-worker, sibling or a parent that evidences these four ways to exert control, you are dealing with an abuser. The sooner you see this as outside of yourself, rather than as a part of you, the easier it is to disengage from his/her control. And when you do, you’ll open yourself to finding and being yourself, exerting your own control as it serves your higher interest and well-being.

If you want to understand the dynamics of controlling relationshipsI invite you to check out Domestic Abuse Dynamics: Identifying Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from abusive relationships.