Working where I do, at a battered women’s shelter, can be really hard sometimes. The stories you hear are devastating and you really cannot imagine what some of these women have been through. But one of the hardest things for me has been finally admitting to myself that I was in an abusive relationship. I’ve posted the power and control wheel before, and what that diagram shows is all of the ways that someone can gain power and control over someone else. A relationship does not have to have physical abuse for it to be abusive. There are many other kinds of abuse, most of which are much more difficult to spot than physical abuse. This makes it easier to explain the abuse away or deny that it has happened.
- Power: He would tell me what I could and couldn’t wear. This started subtly, with me asking what he thought of my outfit and him casually saying that he liked it but he liked X better, or that the outfit would look better if Y. It eventually progressed to the point that he would tell me that I looked “weird” and that he wouldn’t go out with me wearing what I was wearing.
- Stalking: He exhibited extreme jealousy. He would drop by to check up on me and make sure that I was where I said I was. He would check my phone to see who I was calling and texting. He searched endlessly to find my blog. He eventually did and the entire thing had to be deleted. I lost four years of my writing in a split second, so that he couldn’t print out anything that was on it and use it against me.
- Emotional abuse: He would accuse me of things I hadn’t done. He would make jokes about my clothes or call me stupid if I didn’t agree with him. He would lie consistently, about who he was with, where he was going, and who he was talking to. He would make fun of my beliefs, and tell me that I was full of shit when I would try to explain anything about the things I studied to him (for example, I was trying to explain how standards of beauty are societally conditioned. Like, if we were shown pictures of larger women and told that they were beautiful and ideal, that’s what we would see as beautiful. The only reason that he thinks thin/blonde/plastic girls are hot is because he is told by society that they are. See how standards of beauty have changed over the years? He said, “What the fuck are you talking about? You’re a moron. I think those girls are hot because they are). He would call me crazy if I accused him of cheating or if we got in a fight. He would lock me out of house. He wouldn’t allow me to be me and would mock me for trying to be different, or my own person.
- Threats: He would threaten to end the relationship all the time, over every little thing.
- Property violence: He would break my things. He broke my computer, my cell phone, he threw my purse out a fourth story window breaking everything inside it (my ipod, my digital camera, my perfume). He would punch holes in the walls of my apartment when he was angry and then refuse to fix them because it was my fault for making him angry enough to do it.
- Isolation: He would limit who I could and couldn’t hang out with. I had an entire group of straight male friends that he would not let me hang out with once we started dating. He would make me feel guilty if I wanted to go out with my friends, but he would go out with his all the time.
- Sexual abuse: He cheated on me for over a year and a half. He would call me crazy when I accused him of it, or would promise that it was over or that he would end it. He never did.
- Use of male privilege: He believed in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine role. He had rigid expectations of what a “wife” should be and how girls should act. He once reprimanded me in front of all his friends because I had tried to join a conversation with his guy friends about poker and baseball. He told me to “go talk to the girls about hair or something.” When we left, he berated me and said that I had embarrassed him, and that I should act like his girlfriend, not his best friend. He also said that he wanted a woman that would cook and clean and “take care of her man.”