This post was inspired by a comment from one of my subscribers. After reading “Under My Thumb: Coercive Control and the Sensitive Victim,” she sent me an email to tell me that her ex-husband used to blare that same song as often as he could, laughing in a tauntingly cruel way. He’d encourage his children to sing along as if he was playing a carefree, fun game with them. They often did exactly what their dad wanted, not realizing how much they were wounding their mother—after all, they didn’t know he was purposely tormenting her, and they simply wanted his approval.
This sent a double-message to the confused and vulnerable children. First, their father made it clear that they’d only get approval from him if they went along with his “teasing,” which sent the bewildering message that if they didn’t antagonize their mother, they wouldn’t get his admiration or love. They were also being taught that a woman’s place was “under the thumb” of her superior husband.
This particular man never hit his kids. He never called them ugly, or stupid, or worthless. So, he never abused his children, only his intimate partner. Right?
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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.