Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power:
- Dominance – Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession.
- Humiliation – An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you're worthless and that no one else will want you, you're less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
- Isolation – In order to increase your dependence on him or her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.
- Threats – Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.
- Intimidation – Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don't obey, there will be violent consequences.
- Denial and blame – Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is your fault.
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- If you need immediate assistance, dial 911.
- Born to unusual, but nice, parents, Michelle/Shelby grew up rather uneventfully, living mainly in the deep south (Alabama). Later she would learn that it was her parents' love for her that not only brought them together, but had kept them together. And so life was ideal in many respects and distressing in others. Eventually though the family did scatter like leaves on an autumn morning. Fortunately she was able to extract a sincere appreciation for love, beauty, and an abiding respect for those who at least try.
The single greatest influence in her life was the remarkable time spent with her step-grandmother; it was under this influence that she thrived. She was introduced to Literature, also the Arts and Opera. And it was beloved grandmother who told her that if she wanted to be a great writer she must first learn to be an avid reader.
Early adult life would be peppered with indecision, failings, and the haunting of things not learned in childhood. But as is the case with most sincere artist, out of the angst of life came a great capacity for creativity.
Shelby considers her writing a gift, a joy, a tremendous responsibility, and something that helps define her life.Ms. Anderson is a graduate of Oregon State University.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).