I’m working through the highly-recommended Freedom Programme, by Pat Craven – drawing on the knowledge she gained working with thousands of perpetrators and survivors of domestic abuse.
One of the characteristics of the abuser is termed by Pat, ‘the Jailor’. This type of abuser believes that women can’t be trusted to go out alone, and that their place is in the home (preferably barefoot, breastfeeding and working their way through a pile of ironing!)
This is my top 7 of some of the things the Jailor does to keep us in his clutches.
1. He refuses to look after the children – or, when he does, he does such a bad job of it we don’t trust him to do it again. My abuser thought childcare was not for him, and I was left to look after a colicky baby virtually single-handedly. The last time he got up for a night-feed, I saw him shaking his fist at our baby. After that, I was afraid to leave him alone with the little one.
2. He won’t leave your side. It’s not because he’s madly in love with us – it’s so he can keep an eye on us 24/7! My abuser used his paranoia that he was being followed by people out to get him, to stick to me like glue. And ladies, when you live with an abuser – you know how hard it is when you can’t get away from him even for an hour!
3. He persuades you to quit your job, or makes it impossible for you to work because of all the demands he makes of you. You’re now financially dependent upon him, and even more isolated than before. My man always urged me to stop working, despite the fact that he would never hold down a job for more than a couple of months at a time. Scary.
4. He stops you from going out. You are constantly pregnant, have to work through a mega To Do List that he has left for you, or maybe you are forced to wait in for him all day because he has gone out without his keys – again. In the worst cases, women are actually locked in the house.
5. When you do go out, he still controls you. He will check the mileage on the car, call you constantly, and turn up at your friend’s house to check you are really there. My abuser used to put a ‘bite mark’ on my face as a signal to other men that I was already taken.
He also installed a security camera at our home, and when I visited family called up insisting to talk to the baby – his way of checking I wasn’t with another man. Smart phones are a jailor’s best friend: when you are out, he will FaceTime or Skype you so he can check out your surroundings – or even install a tracking device to keep check on your movements.
6. It’s more hassle than it’s worth to see your family and friends. My abuser was so rude to my family it became embarrassing if they came to our home. He would listen-in to every phonecall and interrogate me. I lived in terror that someone would say something he thought was a bit out of whack – because I’d have to spend the next few hours rationalising it with him.
Before long, I was making excuses to avoid socialising, making my phonecalls to my mother from the bathroom, and calling friends only when he was out. Other abusers will claim your sister made a pass at him, tell you that your friends are a bad influence, or even insist on having sex with you before you go out.
7. He wants you to move with him far away from friends and family. He may say it’s a chance for a new start – and sure, it sounds romantic and exciting, but watch out: leaving your support network behind will make you even more vulnerable to his control and abuse. No matter what he says, life won’t get better.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14 https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com