Abuse Tactics: Isolation

Isolation is all about preventing you having a support network outside the friendship/relationship, and stop you comparing your relationship with other people’s, which would let you see how unhealthy it is.

As autistic people often feel so isolated anyway, this can be a particularly easy tactic for the abuser to play on: to begin with, we might be grateful that “at last someone likes me” (i.e. the abuser). We might become obsessed with the abuser, and mistake “obsessive need” for “love”. Remember these tactics can apply to a “friend” or family member too (not just a partner).

It’s very unlikely that any one abuser would use all these tactics, and there will be many ways of isolating you not mentioned here. So, don’t feel you’re overreacting if you don’t see all these particular tactics – you’re not. Every situation is different.

Examples of isolation tactics
  • Is rude to your friends/family so they don’t want to come over.
  • Is overly friendly, or actively tries to seduce, your friends/family, so they don’t want to come over.
  • Warns existing friends off you, or tells them lies about you so they don’t want to be friends with you anymore.
  • Lies about your existing friends (e.g. might pretend they’re trying to seduce him/her) so you don’t want to be friends with them anymore.
  • Takes/hides your keys so you can’t go out.
  • Goes out without his/her keys so you can’t go out without locking him/her out.
  • Refuses to look after the children, so you can’t go out, or can only go out with the children.
  • “Punishes” you for spending time with other people. The “punishment” could be anything from physical harm to giving you the cold shoulder.
  • Stops you getting a job.
  • Repeatedly makes you late for work or disrupts you at work so you lose your job.
  • Disses, prevents, or disrupts your study so you don’t, or can’t, continue your education.
  • Takes the car or the buggy (or both), so you can’t go out.
  • Stops you from having a car, or persuades you to get rid of the one you have.
  • Takes/hides your phone.
  • Reads your emails and texts, listens to your voicemails.
  • Deletes texts/emails/voicemails on your phone before you’ve seen them.
  • You feel you can’t call/text friends, because he’ll want to know who you’re calling/texting.
  • Persuades you to move away from family/friends.
  • Keeps the curtains closed, and the doors/windows locked.
  • Locks you in the house.

Please leave a comment below if you would like to add an isolation tactic.

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.

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