Where did we get the idea that it was acceptable to control another human being?
There are times when we are responsible to control the behavior of others. That’s one of the things laws are for. There must be boundaries and restrictions on behavior in order for society to function well, but somehow, somewhere it has become easier to control the people instead of the boundaries.
You can’t control people. You can try, but they will, eventually, revolt. Governments who run dictatorships are always at risk of a coup, of someone trying to end the control.
Dictatorships in families is also unacceptable. When you begin to control another persons decisions and choice you cross a line from setting boundaries to abuse. Period. Gender does not matter. Control is the start of abuse.
There are, certainly, times and places where situational control is necessary. Just like a country requires laws, so also does a family require rules. Control is when one person sets the rules in place and locks them in without consideration of the opinion or thoughts of any other family member. Young children are not expected to participate in the rules of a household but are expected to respect and obey them. As a child grows, they should be given more and more input on the household rules. (Which is not to say the child gets to make the rules only that their input should be respected and valued.)
Two partners in a relationship should work together as a diplomatic team to make the rules. There must be compromise from both parties for this to work effectively and reasonably. The rules must also be flexible and, with exceptions, subject to change after discussion and agreement. For one partner (male or female) to control all aspects of the relationship rules, without consideration of the other partners desires, thoughts or feelings is abuse. And… therein lies the basis for all relational abuse.
When one partner sets down the law, they become responsible for those laws, and the judge and jury for anyone who might break them. In order to maintain “order”, any infraction of the rules must then be met with punishment (abuse). If the other partner disagrees with the rules, they must be convinced by any means necessary that the rules are fair, just and reasonable (which they aren’t) which is the start of the emotional and verbal abuse.
An abuser does not abuse because of anger issues. An abuser has anger issues because people will not do what they expect or demand of them. A person with true anger issues has little control over when and where the anger explodes from them, an abuser very carefully chooses who, where and when to abuse. For example, one friend shared with me how her (now ex) husband would carefully set aside his laptop computer before assaulting her and throwing things around the home. She noted that the only things he broke were her things, never his.
Maybe we need to stop looking at abuse as a violence issue and start seeing it as a control issue. No one has the right to tell you what to think, how to act, whom to befriend or spend time with, where to go, or any of the other multitudes of ways abusers attempt to control in the lives of those intimately close to them.
My job as a parent is to teach my children how to make those decisions for themselves. We should all take great offense at people who want to then take away those skills, those freedoms. We fight for the freedom of people in other lands… let’s start fighting for the freedom of everyday people at home too.