Abuse Tactics: Introduction

* Abuse doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse *

Abusers have a very wide range of tactics they can call upon to get what they want, including being loving and kind for a while (if that’s what’s needed to bring you back under their control). From the outside, these tactics are often obvious to other people, but from the inside, when you’re living it, you might well have normalised the abuser’s behaviour, or s/he has convinced you that’s how everyone behaves. Alternatively, your partner (or friend, or mother, or whoever) might be the most lovely person to everyone else, meaning no one believes you when you try to tell them what’s happening in private.

It’s also very important to understand that the traditional image of the battered wife is very, very far from the whole story. Abuse occurs in all kinds of relationships, including same-sex relationships. Also, not all abusers are male, and not all victims are female. Many older people are abused too, either by their spouses, their adult children, or their “carers”.

The following tactics are some (but not all) of those used by abusers of all kinds – family members, work colleagues, “friends”, etc., and – although we’ve based our list on the structure used by The Freedom Programme (which focusses on domestic abuse of women) – all tactics can be used in all abusive relationships. Please leave a comment on this page, or any of the following pages, if you would like to add a tactic.

Some Tactics an Abuser Might Use
Bullying & Intimidation – controlling you by fear.
Bad Parenting – using your children to control you.
Mind Games – confusing you and making you feel like you’re going mad.
Isolation – cutting you off from your friends and family, work and education.
Degradation – sexual humiliation.
Lording-it – treating you like a slave.
Lying – denying the abuse, trivialising the abuse, blaming you for the abuse.
Guilt-tripping – Making you feel guilty to get his/her own way.

Please DON’T challenge an abuser, or try to leave a relationship, without getting help first.
There are organisations that can help you work out what to do, and help to keep you (and your children) safe from further physical and/or psychological harm. If you are in the UK, please see the Where to Get Help page for more information. If you are outside the UK, Google your country’s abuse charities – there will be people to help you.



One Response to Abuse Tactics: Introduction

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  1. Jorunn Kristoffersen says:

    Hello, I started reading about girls and autism because my daughter had developmental delay and some very repetetive behaviour. When I was reading about it all I realised that I recognized a lot for myself. I seem to function well, but in all areas of life I have not functioned well at all, maybe because I get so confused after a while. It starts well, usually. I have a total gung-ho attitude and bounce back from all sorts of crap, but it never goes anywhere (studies, work, raising the kids) because I’m at a loss as to where it’s supposed to go and how I’m supposed to get there.
    A diagnosis is out of the question because I do make eye-contact and I have learnt the art of small talk. My new partner, after researching autism since meeting my daughter, did ask me whether I thought I was mildly autistic though. It was a huge relief, and I kind of said yes, but then clammed up and we haven’t talked about it after. It is easier for him to see perhaps, as we spend a fair amount of time together. After having been in a very abusive relationship I decided that trying to change is out of the question, I have tried for years and years and it only ended in tears. So I haven’t hidden anything from him, thinking that if he doesn’t like it he can walk away.
    Sorry, I ramble on.

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