One of my readers suggested that I do a piece on spousal bullying, and I apologize for the length of this post. Because there’s much to cover on this subject, I did my best to cover everything as concisely as possible.
Whether you call it domestic abuse or spousal abuse, it is still a form of bullying, only the bullying takes place in the home against a significant other. The reason this is a form of bullying is because there is a clear power imbalance between the abuser and the target and the attacks, whether physical, verbal, or psychological, are repetitive. They become a pattern, and are ongoing over a period of months, years, or decades.
The bully in the home, (or domestic abuser) abuses the target verbally, emotionally, and/or physically to assert power and dominance and keep them from gaining or maintaining their independence, defending themselves, or leaving the relationship.
The bully feels he/she must use intimidation and force to keep their partner in line because they are life losers who have no social intelligence and no redeeming qualities. Somewhere along the way, they’ve been taught through experience that being a loving partner, calming talking out any issues, or seduction and soft persuasion are either signs of weakness, or doesn’t work.
But the reality is that they never learned how to love. They never learned social skills and how to use positive re-enforcement. Also, they never mastered the art of charm or soft persuasion. So, the only thing these poor souls have left in their toolbox is the use of intimation, force, and violence.
Here are ways that domestic bullies keep control and dominance over their partners:
1. Verbal abuse. If you have a partner that subtly puts you down through jokes or offhand comments, it is still verbal abuse, only you are in the early stages of it. But understand that this stage is the safest time to leave and the longer you stay in the relationship, the more danger you will be in when you finally do walk away.
Know that you deserve to live a peaceful life on your own for a while. And when the time comes, you deserve a partner who respects you and treats you with love. You owe it to yourself to get out of the relationship before it gets any worse.
Anyone who screams, yells, curses you, or calls you degrading names does not love you but only wants to control you and run your life. They may claim they love you but actions speak louder than words..
Again, you must find a path of escape and disappear because verbal bullying tends to turn physical if not dealt with. Do what you must do to get yourself to safety. I realize that it’s hard to leave someone you love, but if your partner doesn’t love you enough to treat you with respect and ensure your safety, you’re better off alone where you can live in peace and make room for someone who truly loves you and treats you with the respect you deserve.
2. Physical abuse. Nobody wants to be physically beaten and many people will submit to a bully just to keep from getting hurt. However, submission only provides physical safety in the short term. Bullies/abusers always come back for more. Again, any form of bullying and abuse will escalate if it’s not addressed properly.
Like school bullying, workplace bullying, and neighborhood bullying, spousal or domestic bullying can very quickly become a pattern and escalate because the bully grows comfortable with abusing their target. Bullies and abusers are notorious for pushing the envelope. In other words, when they get bored with verbal abuse, they will begin to commit “borderline physical abuse,” which is shoving or tripping. Next, they’ll up the ante to “blatant physical abuse” through punching, choking, kicking and progress on to severe beatings until it finally ends in murder.
If you are being physically abused, it’s imperative that you call police and a battered partner’s shelter and get help. Find a way to get out of the relationship. The last thing you want is to end up dead and any children you have (if you have any) to become orphaned.
3. Controlling the purse strings. Domestic abusers/Spousal bullies are notorious for keeping a tight fist on any household income. They refuse to give their partners any money or allow them to go to work and make their own money. If the abused partner happens to have a job, the bully/abuser will demand that they give them the money, or they force them to quit their jobs.
Understand that the reason these bullies are so stingy with the money is because they want to control you and they know that having your own money brings freedom and independence. The last thing the abuser wants is for you to have enough money to find an apartment somewhere and skip out on them one day while they’re at work. What better way is there to keep you stuck in the relationship than to keep you broke?
4. Isolating you from family and friends. Spousal bullies (or domestic abusers) do this to cut you off from any support you might receive from outside the relationship. Understand that the bully is very much afraid that you might speak up about the abuse and that your family and friends might advise you to drop them. And gasp! You just might take their advice!
So, they cut you off from your support system and keep you all to themselves to abuse and degrade at will. Again, you must find a way to get away from this person…fast!
5. Using any children you have together as leverage. Many spousal bullies will threaten to take the children and never allow the abused partner to see the kids again. I’ve heard and read many stories like this. Domestic abusers/spousal bullies use the love you have for your children to intimidate you into staying with them and letting them continue the abuse. But understand that when an abusive partner does this, he/she doesn’t really love the children nor want what’s best for them. They only use the poor kids as pawns in a very dangerous game.
I cannot stress enough that, if you want to protect yourself and your children, you must find a way to leave the relationship and get legal and financial help. Because not only will you be in danger, but your children will too. Also, your children can end up with long-term emotional trauma if you don’t take them and get away. So, please. I beg you. Get your ducks in a row and leave this person, not only for your own safety, but for that of your precious children.
Understand that anyone who must bully and abuse their partner is highly insecure in the relationship. They are the weak ones. They are the cowards. If you are the target in an abusive relationship, I want you to know that none of it is your fault. Realize that it’s not your responsibility to fix this person. Know that you owe it to yourself, your children, and your family and friends to find a way out of the relationship so that you can lead a better, happier, and more productive life, and so that your children, family, and friends do not risk losing a loved one to murder.
Know that you’re worth it and you deserve to be free of your abusive partner and lead a life of peace and safety!
If you’ve suffered spousal bullying (domestic abuse), please feel free to tell your story in the comment section below. Also, if I’ve left anything out, let me know in the comments.