It seems like the isolation part of domestic abuse happens very gradually. You don’t even realize it is happening, but all of a sudden it hits you that you haven’t been out with your friends for months, barely see your family anymore and rush home after work or from getting groceries. You do it to keep the peace. You have become a prisoner in your own home. You have no social life and your whole world revolves around your abuser.
There are several reasons an abuser likes to keep their victim isolated.
One reason is because it’s easier to control someone when you are the only one feeding them information; when you are the only opinion they hear. If you keep them isolated, there are no outside influences. North Korea is a great example of this. The North Koreans believe what they are told because that’s all they know. The abuser slowly brainwashes you into believing he is the only one who knows what’s best for you. He forces his opinion and beliefs on you, and keeps you from others so that no one else’s opinion is contradicting his. He’ll even tell you that it’s for your own good that things are the way they are, that he’s looking out for you! And of course, you can never contradict him because that would be usurping his power, and being ungrateful.
Another reason he wants to keep you isolated is because he doesn’t want you to start talking about his behavior, telling his dirty secrets. He knows that if you are keeping your mouth shut, and he will threaten you any number of ways to make sure you do, he can continue his abusive behavior. Perhaps he’s a pillar of society or in public office. Can you imagine the fallout when it hits the press that Senator So and So, or the Chief of Police is a wife beater? What enables an abuser is secrecy.
And he may even use YOU as an excuse to isolate you. He may say things like, “I just want to spend time with you. I don’t want anyone else around.” Or, “I’d rather it just be the two of us.” At first, until you realize what he’s doing, it makes you feel special, but he’s using it to isolate you.
One by one your family, friends, co-workers have all stepped back for one reason or another. They may feel you are avoiding them. They may sense the tension between you and the abuser and they aren’t sure what to do. They may be tired of you always turning down their invitations to get together. Or they may even have observed your abuser in full attack mode and have decided they don’t want to be around him anymore.
Regardless of the reason, isolation is a very powerful tool abusers will use to keep control and continue to abuse. Reach out to someone you trust. Speak to someone about what is happening in your relationship. Educate yourself about how abusers work, and you’ll be able to see it for what it is – isolation and control. This will be a very powerful first step to freedom!