Divide, Conquer, Surrender
Isolation and the removal of a safety network.
Date: 3/26/2011 6:42:39 AM ( 26 mon ) ... viewed 787 times
So, what does that really mean? Is it a concious thing that an abuser does? How (and, why) do they do it?
Over the year in my healing processes, I've engaged in counseling therapy, working with Survivors, and researching/discussing the epidemic of domestic violence and abuse. One of the unwavering similarities in nearly every abusive relationship is the isolation factor. Victims often have a sudden epiphany that they have no truly close friends and are often sundered from family. The latter is particularly true when family members recognize the abuser for what he/she is and refuse to buy into their game. Any "friends" that the target victim has are carefully scrtunized and screened by the abuser to present the least likely threat to their level of control. In my case, these "friends" were (without fail) engaging in substance abuse, morally objectionable habits (hiring of prostitutes / wife-swapping / etc) and disdainful of me so that my inclusion in discussions or substance abuse seemed as if it were some great honor - I was being ALLOWED to participate. Long-time personal friends were a direct threat to the abuser because of one simple reason: they could detect a negative change in my choices and behaviors that were directly related to my relationship and could possibly alert me to these changes. So, to avoid losing his property, the abuser began to cast doubt upon each and every friend that I had before we met, and every friendship that might have been cultivated during our marriage.
For the former abuser, his priorities ran as follows: outward illusion of wealth/success; sexua| activity/dominance; illusion of financial solvency. If I had a friend or was cultivating a friendship with someone who was financially stable and successful, the abuser would drop subtle suggestions about their sources of income. He might have said, "You know, she's living off of her parents," or, "How can she afford to have those things?" Always, there was an atmosphere of doubt. Then, he would cast doubt upon their sexua| intents, going as far as to suggest that my "friend" had propositioned him directly, engaged in risky sexua| habits, or that they were "jealous" and were actively trying to "cause trouble between us" by interfering in our marriage.
Now, these behaviors are almost identical in situations of domestic vioence and abuse. The abuser cannot and will not risk anything that might undermine their control over their victims. In my case, the abuser's subtle innuendos were so carefully delivered that I would look for "proof" of his accusations, veiled though they were. And, none of my friends were ever gathered together at the same time, lest they begin talking to me and comparing notes. HIS friends, however, were all acceptable, regardless of their activites and choices. Because of the abuser's perversions, they had in common a loathing of women and approved of risky sexua| practices and illegal activities. If I had the cheek to voice my disapproval of these people and their choices, I was made to look like a prude and accused of being either "asexual," having "gone lesbo," or for having lost my sense of fun. At times, he would launch into great lectures about a "wife's duty to please he husband" when we were alone, often citing the apparent activities of our "friends." Now, I had made it quite clear that I found his retelling of people's sexua| lives to be distasteful, particularly when they were horribly demeaning to the wives or girlfriends. He would counter with, "What's wrong with you? I think it's hilarious and it goes to show that we're pretty boring in bed." The effect of this type of CONSTANT ridicule was to wear down my self esteem, sense of worth, and to simply objectify.
The conquering is finalized when the abuser has the ultimate authority upon whom the victim will, and will not, have human interaction with. The surrender is when the victim goes with the program JUST to avoid humiliation, whether it's in reference to accepting objectionable behaviors as normal and appropriate, or whether it's allowing isolation from friends and family that risk outing the abuser for what he/she is.
It is vital that we also recognize these tactics with others who are not our romantic partners. Friends and family members can also employ the divide/conquer/surrender techniques in order to maitain whatever illusion that they have created for themselves. A perfect example of this was when a woman that I believed to be a friend avoided, at all costs, any social gathering of this apparent circle of friends that she claimed to have. I was planning a surprise party for her birthday with another gal that she claimed to be the "only friend" of, and the gal and I began to talk during this planning process. What we discovered was that the mutual friend had been spreading incredible rumours and malicious gossip about us, and everyone else that was on the guest list! In fact, this mutual friend had borrowed a sum of money from the gal with no intention of ever paying it back.
So, again, boundaries about personal information would have proven to be priceless in the case of the friend, and my choice of an abuser as a domestic partner.
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