I linked to the list of abuse patterns - the question arose whether or not the simple (and perhaps solitary) act of preventing one who you are in a relationship with from doing something that they want qualifies as "abuse".
I say "no." I believe that you must look at the motive behind that prevention. If someone prevents you (generic you) from doing something that you want to do for reasons such as the good of a group, or for your own good, I don't think that you can rightly call that abuse.
If you (generic you) are routinely kept from doing something that you want to do for the sake of control, then I think you need to exercise great caution in that relationship.
We should (I believe) recognize that some people really thrive on structure and when they have certain restrictions, kept from doing something that they want to do, have a feeling of safety within that close structure. That's not what I write about today and falls under the "if it works for you, go for it" category.
If a man follows you around when you're out with your sister, insists on driving you to work (or school) and goes through your purse to find your cell phone in order to find out who you've been talking to...that's controlling.
If, on the other hand, a man prevents you from eating chocolate peanut butter cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory (my absolute favorite) or butter-garlic mashed potatoes at Rock Bottom (they are SO yummy!) - you would have fallen for that temptation had you not had the accountability...and he knows that peanut butter is the fastest route to an asthma attack and potatoes make your knees hurt...that is not abuse.
Last semester I was sitting next to a young women in the computer lab. She was talking to me while we were waiting for "stuff" to come up. She was talking about her current boyfriend that she's thinking about breaking up with. I recognized some from that list and (since we were sitting at computers) I brought up that website and showed her the "controlling" list.
"That is SO him!" We talked about patterns of abuse, patterns of control and what the signals might be that should send up red flags. Ultimately, she needs to make that choice, but what we need to do is to make sure the information is easily available so that every woman knows what it is that she is looking for.
The best way to prevent domestic abuse it to avoid being in a relationship with a person who will abuse you.
That was an easy statement. Implementing that could be one of the hardest things to figure out how to do.
Teaching girls young how to spot abusers before they have a serious relationship is one way.
***We teach about birth control in high school, we teach about HIV, drinking, drug use and smoking, diet and exercise. Why can we not teach young women how to identify young men who show those signs exercising the level of control that sends up red flags?
Teaching young men how to relate to young women in a healthy way is another.
***NLP teaches me that there are two angles to reaching a goal - a negative and a positive:
- Having a goal ahead of you that you want to reach for
- Having a bad thing behind you that you want to get away from
We can have the goal of "don't be an abuser" or we can have the goal of "be a Godly husband".
"Don't be an abuser" comes with a list of "don'ts"
- don't hit your wife or girlfriend
- don't be controlling
- don't follow her around
- don't be angry
- don't be selfish
"Be a Godly husband" comes with a list of "dos"
- do love your wife as Christ loves the church
- do be ready to give up your very life for her
- do be selfless
- do be humble
- do be kind, gentle, faithful, honest
- do have Christ as your example of a husband
- do be a servant-leader
There are three ways to come at teaching young men:
-We can give them a "negative goal", which does nothing to encourage positive behavior
- we can give them a "positive goal", which offers no solutions when abuse does occur
- we can blend the two. People sin. Abuse is sin. As much as we attempt to teach that it is wrong, it will happen. We need to teach young men that abuse is sin. We need to make it clear that if they are abusers, the church will discipline the abuser and the law will be involved.
We need to make it clear to young women that Godly leadership is NOT sin, that there are very high goals set for men in leadership positions (and that includes husbands) and that it is sinful for that leadership to be perverted into abuse. We need to communicate very clearly that it is a good and right thing to confront sin and to get the church leadership (and law if needed) involved.