You might think that domestic abuse is about control, especially if you're familiar with the literature on domestic violence. However, not all abuse is about controlling the victim. Sometimes the batterer is simply trying to control the moment.

One partner can be mentally controlling of the other and holds the upper hand in consistently getting things to go their way. And the other partner could be the one yelling, striking and losing their cool in the heat of the moment.

You look at this couple and you say, "Who is the perpetrator, or is there one?" Maybe and maybe not, depending on your perspective.

The Control of Mental Abuse

Psychological abuse and mental control can be very subtle and it can also be extremely oppressive, toxic and demanding of one's inner resources. Yet, the mental abuser can appear to other people as a nonviolent person—even though they indulge in violating the rights of their intimate partner.

The Control of Physical Abuse

Verbal and physical abuse are more expressive in nature, thereby being more obvious to others looking in, including the victim. Further, there are two ways in which this type of abuse is used as a means to establish and maintain control.

Physical and verbal abuse can be used to control another person or to control the moment. When physical and verbal abuse springs out from a batterer to control the victim, you can feel the fear-producing intention. Whereas, when verbal and physical abuse are uncontrollably unleashed, a stress release phenomenon occurs that serves to explicate resentment and ease the tension in the moment.

In the latter situation, the verbal and/or physical abuse is more about controlling the moment or the interaction in the moment. It's not really about controlling "the victim" as is thought of in describing classic intimate partner violence

What's Control Have to Do With It?

Control has everything to do with it. The question is, what is being controlled?

If you are in a relationship characterized by bouts of violent altercations, ask yourself when, how and to what end does the verbal and physical abuse occur? This understanding could give you a tremendous advantage in arresting the episodes of domestic abuse between you and your partner.

With closer examination, you may even recognize the many forms of control that occur in intimate relationships. With this appreciation, you could open the widest pathway toward a marital relationship of equal honoring and respect on all levels of interaction.

For ongoing help with abuse and control, visit http://www.domesticabusesupport.com and claim Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse. ©Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Abuse Prevention and Intervention
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