Isolation tactics are one of the key defining points of an abuser’s behavior. If you’re partner tries to …
* make you feel alone
* turn you against other people
* turn other people against you
* get you not to trust the world around you
* make you feel suspicious of your friends
… those are all isolation tactics. And for a man to isolate his partner is abusive.
He’ll have all kinds of justifications for isolating you. He’ll say it’s for your own good. He’ll say you’re naive and don’t realize that people are actually out to take advantage of you. He’ll say you need to be more independent from your family — again, claiming that he has your best interests at heart. He’ll say he just wants you — and the children — to be safe.
None of those justifications is acceptable. Nothing justifies isolating you, or isolating your kids. And when a man isolates you, that invariable comes with other ways of controlling you and tearing your self-confidence down. As you watch, you’ll observe that it’s part of a pattern.
And if he’s so concerned about your independence (which is his excuse for driving a wedge between you and your family), then how come he undermines your independence in other ways? The answer is that he wants you to be dependent on him.
He may go in a different direction than the “I just want what’s best for you and our family” approach. For example, he may try to make you feel bad for having any life of your own, claiming that you’re hurting him and mistreating him if you won’t give everything up for him. See if any of these kinds of statements feel familiar:
* “If you really cared about me, you’d be spending your time with me and not hanging around with your friends.”
* “Your family is just trying to tear us apart. You care about them more than me.”
* “You always have time for everyone but me. When I come home, I want you off your phone.”
These “poor me” kinds of statements can get you feeling sorry for him. You may start to feel like, “Gee, I really should be more focused on him. I’ll stop spending time with my friends and relatives. I don’t want to make him feel bad, I’m hurting his feelings.”
Don’t give into him about your social contact (unless he’s getting scary so you don’t have any other safe choice). A loving, non-abusive partner wants you to have friends, wants you to spend time with your family and other relatives, wants you to have interests and activities in life that are separate from him. Of course it’s important to make your partner a priority, but that doesn’t mean you make him the only priority, and it doesn’t mean you give up things — and people — in life that are important to you.
Isolation is dangerous to your freedom and to your mental health. Fight against it as much as you safely can. It’s one of your biggest enemies.