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About Coercive Control

Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling.  One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control.  It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.

Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day?  Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact.  Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.

There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.

Intimidation is a big red flag.  Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me.  After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me.  Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.

“Minor” violent acts.  I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence.  That isn’t my intention.  What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard.  These are so called minor violent acts.

Using threats to control.  Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.

Micromanaging a victim.  When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything.   Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood.  This is known as infantilization.

Financial abuse.  An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.

Isolation is another form of coercive control.  It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims.  Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources.  Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.

Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control.  Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case.  Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.”  They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you.  When you practically beg them is when they have power over you.  They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.

When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first.  Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse.  This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening.  By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.

If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!!  These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person!  Protect yourself & stay safe!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Financial Abuse

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a little known type of abuse that narcissists often use on their victims.  It is a very effective way to keep someone under control, after all.

For convenience sake, we’ll assume in this article the financial abuser is male, victim female.

While dating, a financial abuser obviously can’t have the deep level of control that a married financial abuser can have.  However, he still can exert some control.  It probably will start small, like him asking to borrow $20 until payday.  Most people experience this at some point, so it’s no red flag,  Plus, it’s only $20.  Then he needs more & more, $50 or $100.  Or maybe he asks to use your credit card, claiming he’ll pay it off soon.  The problem is he never pays that money back.  And, if you say anything, he gets extremely angry.  You learn quickly it’s easiest just to give him money & not expect it to be repaid.  I went through this when dating my ex husband.  Even though he knew perfectly well how tight money was for me when we first got together, he still asked to “borrow” money often, & never paid it back.  By the time we got married a bit over 2 years later, I figured he’d taken well over $400 from me.

Sometimes an abuser controls his or her victim’s finances completely.   The victim has no access to bank accounts or credit cards.  Receipts are demanded so every penny can be tracked.  My mother did this to my father.  He got a small “allowance” while she paid all the bills, saved money, etc.  True, she was very good with money & maybe because of that should have been in charge of their finances to a degree.  But, he had literally no say in where money was spent & didn’t know how much was saved either.  My husband & I have a similar arrangement, but the healthy version.  I tell him where every penny I spend goes (even though he doesn’t ask) & he doesn’t get an “allowance.”  He has full access to all accounts, too, just like I do.

Sometimes financial abusers prevent their victim from working.  They may tell their victim outright that she isn’t allowed to work.  Or, they may sabotage her job somehow, such as by forcing her to call out often or making her run late so often that she gets fired.

Another trick of financial abusers is to ruin their victim’s credit.  If the victim has her own income & wants to leave, one way to prevent that is by ruining her credit.  How could she rent an apartment or buy a home when her credit score is 450 & her credit report is full of charged off bad debt?  It’s impossible.  He can ruin her credit by charging up her credit cards or taking out loans in her name, then refusing to pay the bills.

Some male financial abusers also keep their wives pregnant.  They may sabotage birth control so she gets pregnant.  If she has babies often, no matter how employable she may be, financially it just makes more sense for her to stay home rather than pay for expensive day care for several children.  These abusers get what they want in many ways by doing this-  they have more children to abuse/gain narcissistic supply from, their wife stays home as they want, they take away her independence & they feel powerful & in control.

There is hope for victims though, especially if you’re creative.

Ask safe friends & family for any help or advice they may have.  They may help you financially or give you some advice you hadn’t thought of.

Local churches or domestic violence hotlines can help as well.  Also, look into requirements for getting food stamps & public assistance.  No, no one wants to do this, but they can help you until you get on your feet.

Skim any little bit of money you can.  Every little bit will help you!

If at all possible, get some sort of job in secret.  Babysit while he’s at work or walk dogs.

If your credit is bad, get a secured credit card to help you reestablish your credit.  A secured card is one you send money to, then use it to pay for things instead of the other way around.  Since there is no risk of customers not paying their debt, companies give these cards out freely, even to people with less than stellar credit.

Most of all, never forget to pray.  God will help you to find ways to escape this insidiously abusive situation.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Narcissism