You’re a guy so you can’t possibly be with a controlling woman. You can’t possibly be a victim of domestic violence. She’s a woman! That’s what society, and the media, would have you believe.
Most media depicts unhealthy relationships as a guy abusing a woman. Either he’s beating her or screaming at her or telling her she’s garbage. This is the go-to picture of an unhealthy relationship, but there are other unhealthy relationships, behaviors, and lived experiences that need to be discussed.
Yours. Domestic violence against a man by a woman is very real, harmful, and it is a crime.
In a 2014 study on domestic violence, it showed that women, not men, are more likely to be controlling and aggressive in a relationship.
Women used serious threats, physical violence, intimidation, and controlling behavior at a higher frequency than men. In this study, 1,000 men and women were given a questionnaire on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) both now and in previous relationships. This questionnaire included questions on violence they had received and given.
The results were not expected. They showed that women wanted to be in control and would use physical violence to achieve that control, more than men.
Physical violence included much more than just pushing or even slapping. Some of the participants, male and female, reported being kicked, beaten, and threatened with a weapon. None of this behavior is acceptable, no matter what gender’s dishing it out.
The first advice is to leave. Leave this relationship. But, if you’re struggling to do this, keep reading.
Whether control is overt or subtle, it can ruin your life. Here are a few controlling behaviors and ways to deal with them when your woman uses them.
Getting you alone
Usually, the first method of a controlling woman, getting you alone involves taking you away from “outsiders”, like your family and friends. Cutting all contact. The goal of getting you alone is to remove your support network so you’ll have no one to talk to. Without a support network, you’ll feel alone and weakened. The relationship will tighten around you and grow unhealthily close.
How does she do this? She may complain about your friends or that you aren’t spending enough time with her. She may try to convince you that someone close to you betrayed you. All of this is so you will depend on her and only her.
To combat this behavior, you must stay in contact with someone. That may be a colleague, member of the clergy, or a person at a domestic abuse hotline. Maybe even letters or emails to someone. Lean on someone other than her.
Criticizing your every move may be a way she asserts control. Whether it’s small criticisms like the way you brush your hair or larger criticisms on how much money you make, these take a toll on your self-esteem. This behavior, along with isolation, can start small. At first, it may seem like she’s helping you. Trust me, she isn’t.
If you’re around her and feel like nothing you do is right, you were born wrong, and she’ll never be happy, she’s exerting control.
To fight these criticisms, remind yourself of your strengths. Try not to take these criticisms personally. The problem is hers. A controlling woman, or people in general, like to get a reaction out of you. Don’t give it to her. Stay calm and ignore her. If she continues, walk away.
You don’t deserve her criticism and she’s not trying to help you. She’s helping herself. There is another relationship out there where you can feel appreciated, accepted, and free to be yourself.
Threats don’t have to come just in the form of physical violence. Threats can be subtle and equally as damaging. She may employ threats such as withholding your children, divorcing and taking half of your money, or hurting herself. She may also use physical violence like pushing, grabbing a weapon, or throwing things. Each of these, and many more, can leave you feeling scared to leave.
While the best course is to leave this abusive relationship as quickly as possible, to fight these threats you should assert your rights, restrain her if she’s becoming violent, and know that she is in control of herself. If she hurts herself, there’s nothing you can do. It’s her choice and not your fault.
Love, acceptance, and caring don’t come with conditions. You aren’t required to do anything to be loved. In a healthy relationship. If your woman’s controlling, you may find that you have to constantly prove you’re worthy of her love, acceptance, and caring. If you do exactly as she wants, she’ll shower you with love. But if not, the love will be snatched away.
She may say things like, “If you made more money, I’d spend more time with you.”
Statements of love that have conditions always have an air of ‘if this, then that’. They are used to try and convince you that you aren’t good enough and she’s the key to make you better.
When she doles out these conditional statements, remember that she’ll never be satisfied. If she’s satisfied with you then how can she mold you into what she wants?
She will never be satisfied.
And neither will you if you stay with her.
With the picture of domestic violence growing larger, people are beginning to realize that you can be a victim, too. And a woman can be the aggressor. Living with a controlling or violent woman is a huge burden on your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It’s okay to be afraid. Getting out of an abusive relationship can be the hardest thing of your life. But, when you’re ready to talk, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-787-3224) or the ManKind Initiative (01823 334244), if you live in the U.K.
* Note: If your significant other is a man, these tips still apply and these resources can offer support.