By Dr.Jeanne King, Ph.D.
Have you ever noticed how some people will do whatever it takes—literally—to get you to do as they wish. It doesn’t even matter what is going on with you; their belief is that they are going to get from you what they seek no matter what. So your experience, your feelings, your preferences, and your circumstances matter not in this equation.
Take Lindsay and Jack, for example. As usual, Lindsay could be Jack and vice versa (Jack could be Lindsay). Alternatively, Jack could be Jackie. You understand that these dynamics cross all boundaries.
When Needs and Desires Clash in Controlling Relationships
Jack arrives at Lindsay’s home on a summer evening. Without checking in with Lindsay, he pulls out his phone to obtain tickets to a movie for that night. The two of them had planned for Lindsay to stay at his home that evening. Thus, her bag was ready and waiting at the front door.
However, Lindsay was not feeling well. Seems as though she was fighting a bug, and the bug was battling back. You know how it is when you are under the weather. This part is not a factor for Jack. He doesn’t want to hear that Lindsay is not feeling well. This matters not, from his point of view. He places Lindsay’s bag in his car (against her wishes) and they proceed in a bit of a hurry to the movie theater.
While walking into the dark theater, Lindsay trips and injures herself significantly. In the moment of impact and shortly after, the damage was hard to assess. At the end of the movie, it became more evident to Lindsay that another injury had been sustained.
So now, she is fighting a bug and weathering a blow to an already existing injury she had been nursing for months prior. Yet, none of this matters to Jack. He still demands that she accompany him to his home for the evening.
Emotional Extortion, Neglect and Abuse in Play
Lindsay pleads with him to bring in her bag from his car so she may stay home and sleep in her own bed, as she is clearly not feeling well. Jack will have no part of this conversation…without camouflaging the discussion with coercive control and emotionally exploitive tactics. The two of them are in Lindsay’s kitchen and the truth of this scenario reveals itself in the moments and hours that follow.
Lindsay pulls out from her herbal remedy cabinet several purification detox formulas that she knows to be effective when you catch an illness within the first 24 hours. Jack stands there watching her load all these supplements into her backpack. She is crying and begging that he “allow” her stay at home.
Jack cannot and will not hear this “foolishness,” because from his perspective her gibberish is a lame excuse, a cock block, a detour from his agenda for the evening. This couple spends the next five plus hours with Lindsay in and out of tears and Jack pouring on the emotional extortion, blackmail and abuse, ad nauseam.
Emotional Extortion/Blackmail Camouflages Actual Physical Needs
While the kitchen scene was glaring in and of itself, the ride over to Jack’s home was a nightmare in the making. Lindsay can hardly see straight though her compromised health and the pain of her injury. All while Jack flings one rod of emotional abuse after another, until her weeping is so out of control that she literally cannot see straight much less think coherently.
He lets her know how she repeatedly wrongs him (deprives him, neglects him, withholds from him, falls short relative to him) by her not being accessible to him during the week. She is shamed to the core over the fact that she works and doesn’t have the same flexible workload, as does he. He wants her to know that weekends simply aren’t enough, and he is driven to fill in the space with weekday companionship and love.
She is in pain hurting, but he is demanding of her empathy. This single dynamic is a root theme in their conflict. Jack doesn’t do empathy if and when it requires being taken off course of his agenda. Instead of extending empathy to Lindsay with respect to her immediate and obvious physical health condition, he demands it and utilizes coercive control tactics to diminish her commitment to taking care of her own basic needs in order to get his way.
By the time he has dispensed whatever it takes to engender fear, obligation and guilt, Lindsay merely holds onto the fact that Sunday is soon arriving and this Saturday evening, too, will end. Unfortunately, however, the dysfunctional toxic dynamics do not stop without proper intervention.
If you recognize this interaction pattern in your intimate relationship, take a hard and fast look at emotional abuse in controlling relationships. For more information on these dysfunctional, visit Dr Jeanne King.
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact her, if you need help with physical and/or emotional abuse.