Dear Dr. Eve,
I think I am going a little crazy and deep down I am feeling a little anxious. I love my boyfriend… I really do. He’s the nicest, most kind boyfriend I have ever had. My past relationships have been quite difficult – a few of the guys cheated on me, and one just ghosted me. My current boyfriend spoils me. He buys me nice things, takes me to nice places and always wants to be around me.
And that’s where it gets confusing for me. He doesn’t let me drive anywhere alone, makes a fuss when I want to see my family and from the beginning, he created a joint bank account for us and always wants to know where the money goes.
Do I have a right to feel anxious?
DR EVE REPLIES:
Imalda, you probably know about physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. These kinds of abuse are obvious in that you can remember the bitter, painful, humiliating words thrown at you, and your body bears witness to the punches, pushes, and bites.
Allow me to introduce you to another form of abuse that is more subtle and so harmful. In fact, it is at the heart of domestic abuse.
It’s called COERCIVE CONTROL. It is a strategic form of ongoing oppression and intimate terrorism used to instill fear in you. As you are beginning to notice, this fear pervades all elements of your life. It is your boyfriend’s way of strategically gaining control over you. It is psychologically violent and largely silent to those outside of the relationship.
So, your family and friends cannot see the abuse you are suffering and because it is subtle and contrasted with your boyfriend’s generosity and adoration, you cannot share your confusion with others.
The good news is that in 2015 the British legal system ratified Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act and created a new offence of controlling and coercive behaviour. And just this week Coercive Control Violence Prevention is now part of Hawaii state law, the first USA state to make it a crime. Let this comfort you, knowing that what you are experiencing is indeed a serious, dangerous, and criminal activity.
Here are 12 major signs of COERCIVE CONTROL. Tick off however may relate to your current experience. And then know this fact:
Femicide Census showed that 76 percent of women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse were killed within the first year following their separation
In other words
- Be really cautious about leaving the relationship
- Build up professional and personal support and be advised on how to get out of your abusive situation as safely as you can
- Have a safety plan
- Have money saved
POWA – 076 694 5911
RAPE CRISIS – (021) 447 9762
WOMENS LEGAL CENTER – (021) 424 5660 / (011) 339 1099
GBV HELPLINE – 0800 428 428
- ISOLATING YOU FROM YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
- MONITORING YOUR ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT THE DAY
- DENYING YOUR FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY
- NAME CALLING AND PUTTING YOU DOWN (HUMILIATING YOU)
- LIMITING AND CONTROLLING YOUR ACCESS TO MONEY
- REINFORCING TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES
- TURNING YOUR CHILDREN /CLOSE FRIEND/FAMILY AGAINST YOU
- CONTROLLING ASPECTS OF YOUR HEALTH AND BODY (how much you eat, sleep, time spent in the bathroom)
- MAKING JEALOUS ACCUSATIONS
- REGULATING YOUR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP (Quantity of sex and kinds of sex)
- THREATENING YOUR CHILDREN OR PETS
Feel free to reach out to me via WhatsApp. Anonymity is guaranteed. Let me know where your anxieties, fears, and worries sit with you. Tell me what is soothing for you. And what you need in this time of intimacy injustices.
060 890 1062
Feel free to book a teletherapy Zoom session with me right here… https://www.dreve.co.za/appointment/
For more information please contact my PA Shantel: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Dear Dr. Eve” is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let DR EVE use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.