One of the hallmark traits of an abusive personality is extreme, possessive jealousy, which can take many forms—all with an end goal of isolation. Whether consciously or not, an abuser wants to keep his partner to himself, to ensure she’s available whenever he wishes, in whatever way he desires.
If his target maintains close relationships with anyone other than himself, he feels his control slipping. After all, being around other people may cause a target of domestic abuse to reassess her own situation and to be less vulnerable to her abuser’s gaslighting, criticisms, and manipulations. External friendships will help her maintain a higher level of self-esteem and self-worth—in other words, inner strength. And, if she’s exposed to other couples, she may see what a healthy relationship looks like—and begin to question her own.
Although an abuser may not consciously harbour these thoughts, the underlying attitudes and motivations are still present. Her ability to maintain close ties with others not only means he has less control, but it also means his target’s attentions aren’t focused on him 24/7—something an abusive personality absolutely cannot tolerate.
Isolation in a domestically abusive relationship is one of the key tactics of coercive control because it “deprives victims of all social support; the ability to resist weakens; it makes the victim dependent on the abuser.” This tactic is particularly toxic when the abuser begins isolating his target from her family.
How does a manipulative person accomplish his goal of isolating his victim? It all begins with convincing her that he’s the only one who truly understands her—after all, they’re soul mates, he’ll claim. He’ll employ all the romantic strategies in his playbook until she’s completely hooked. This is all done to solidify their relationship bond, making total isolation easier to achieve.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.