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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

Controlling Communication: A Tactic Abusers Use

One of the primary weapons an abuser uses involves communication.  It’s rather ironic, really; especially if you go to couples or family counseling trying to work on the problems in the relationship because oftentimes counselors will actually address the issue as if it is a communication  problem.  It is not.  What I am saying is that controlling communication is a weapon abusers use to affect their partners – mainly to control them.

Going to counseling and pretending that all you need to do is get the abuser to learn how to communicate better will never work. The problem is not one of ignorance, but of motives, and ultimately, one of beliefs.  Suppose the counselor recommends you and your partner read a book together; one on how to communicate well in a close relationship.  You are all excited because you finally found a solution to your problem.  Unfortunately, all of your hopes will soon be dashed, for one, because the proper diagnosis has not been made.

You may purchase the book, and begin reading it with your partner, only to discover that your partner (1) does not do anything the book suggests; (2) only makes a superficial effort to read the book; (3) uses what’s read to focus on what you do wrong in the relationship.

Suffice it to say, the entire counseling experience will blow up in your face, implying you are the bad guy. You will end up feeling worse, rather than better than you did prior to counseling.

Before I continue with my analysis, and what you can do with this information, is suggest a list of communication “weaponry” abusers use:

  • stonewalling
  • silent treatments
  • implications
  • gaslighting
  • lying
  • confabulation
  • blame
  • projection
  • bait and switch
  • acting innocent and clueless
  • forgetting
  • using social media
  • not responding to texts/calls
  • yelling
  • bullying
  • raging
  • non-verbal communication – body language
  • monologues

The list is non-exhaustive!  As you can see, there are many ways to screw over someone by controlling the communication.  It is mind-boggling!  Plus, it’s very creative in a sinister way. Don’t lose sight of this reality. Your abuser will be able to baffle you and mess with you in very personal ways; in ways that may not affect another person, so that when you try to explain yourself to someone else, they just don’t get it.

The target or victim of abuse usually ends up feeling confused, frustrated, misunderstood and defensive. If you are the victim of an emotional abuser, then you understand perfectly these feelings.

What to do?

Here is a list of recommendations to help yourself if you are in a relationship with someone who controls communication:

  • Trust yourself. One thing is for sure, emotional abuse challenges your sense of reality. The best way to counteract an abuser’s communication hijacking is by looking within and listening to your own inner voice.
  • Walk away. You do not have to subject yourself to turmoil. No  matter how much you love someone, you are not obligated to endure any type of abuse or control, ever. If you start feeling the above mentioned emotions, simply take note and walk away; no justification or explanation is necessary.
  • Take care of yourself. Do not ruminate over the other person’s behaviors; it is a waste of your time and energy.  Use the Al-Anon mantra:  “I didn’t cause it; I can’t control it; I can’t cure it; I won’t contribute to it.”  Go find some safe people to hang out with.

These three simple steps will help you. Never lose sight of the reality that abusive people want to control you and the relationship. Remind yourself that no matter what the abusive person in your life wants to do,  you are free to choose for yourself how to respond. You are not obligated to be controlled by anyone.

 

Controlling Communication: A Tactic Abusers Use


APA Reference
Stines, S. (2019). Controlling Communication: A Tactic Abusers Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2019/01/controlling-communication-a-tactic-abusers-use/