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.
“Using pornography is not OK behavior. It is a perverse and ridiculous intrusion into your relationship. It is an insult, it is disloyal and it is cheating.” (Dr. Phil McGraw)
In today’s world, pornography not only seems to be everywhere, but it’s often viewed as “normal” and even “healthy.” Whether it’s soft porn in the form of sexy and objectifying ads for beer, trucks, clothing, movies, food, music—well, anything, really—to easily accessible hardcore porn on the internet, the over-sexualization of society has become a damaging wound. Is it inevitable that all guys—and, increasingly, women—interact with porn? Should we just shrug our shoulders and dismiss such behaviour as “the way things are nowadays”?
No. Absolutely not.
Pornography is destructive on so many levels. It isn’t merely demeaning and vile, but it also contributes to the prevalence of domestic violence.
“Most pornographic movies, magazines, and web sites can function as training manuals for abusers, whether they intend to or not, teaching that women are unworthy of respect and valuable only as sex objects for men. A great deal of mainstream pornographic material—not just the so-called “hard core”—contains stories and images showing the abuse of both women and children as sexy.” (Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
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.