Saturday, September 08, 2007

Power and Control

One of the things I hold close to my heart is the desire to help other women avoid or get out of relationships that are harmful. What makes it a harmful relationship? Isn't that against God if I'm encouraging them to leave? These are questions that I had to ask myself. Often though, the woman or young lady isn't even married. She's stuck in an abusive and controlling relationship with a boyfriend or other adult that abuses their power.

If a woman is married, she doesn't have to remarry if that is against her religion. Just take that option off the table for now. I'm not saying she can't remarry, that's between her and God alone. All I'm saying is to stop rushing things. So many people race immediately to the marriage question. Please stop right there. Too many other things have to be solved WAY before you have to worry about that whole shebang. Let's get the woman safe first. Everything else begins to fall into place and perspective once she is safe.

How do you do that? Believe it or not, the beginning is simply helping her to recognize the problem. I know to someone outside of a controlling relationship it is easy to see. But to someone who has been in it for a long time, the problems didn't start shockingly fast. No. They changed gradually. So for the next few days, I'm going to talk about what a controlling relationship looks like. We'll take a break for a book review and then we'll get to what a healthy relationship looks like. Why? Because people like me came from such convoluted backgrounds that we don't recognize healthy.

As we begin to notice red flags in the relational dynamics, we have to open our minds to be willing to see them in our own lives.

The picture above is of the YWCA Power and Control Wheel. I know that everyone has idiosyncracies. But take a moment and really consider the degree of behavior. Then ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do you feel forced/coerced into your partner's pattern of behavior?
2. Do you feel like you have no say or choice in anything?
3. Are decisions made for you?
4. Are you threatened emotionally or physically or financially?
5. Do you hear..."If you don't do...I'll do it for/to you." ?
6. Do you have your own money to spend?
7. Does your partner control who you see and talk to?
8. Do you make excuses for anti-social behavior by your partner?
9. Do you have to beg for basic necessities like food, personal needs, clothing?
10. Do you like yourself? Have you been told you are worthless?
11. Do you have confidence in your own abilities or has your confidence in yourself fallen?

Are any of these questions bugging you? Why?

All you have to do today is think about them. Nope. Nothing else. No decisions have to be made. Just take a little time to think about the questions and if you experience any of it or if someone you love is obviously dealing with it. Nothing else. The beginning is simply opening your mind to think about it logically. Find a place to consider life.

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