Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A-Z: Imposed Isolation Shrinks Your World

via imagerymajestic at
You ever fall in love, and at first, you're so happy and delighted with one another, you spend most of your time in a happy little cocoon, shutting out the rest of the world?  You might not even want to be separated from your new love long enough to bathe.

This may be natural, but as time goes in, in a normal relationship, you begin integrating family and friends back into your activities.  You want your best friend to know (and love) your guy; he wants his mother to meet and like you.

In a normal relationship.

In a relationship with a disordered person, the "I want you all to myself" phase continues, although the state of happiness goes from being constant to being rare.

They may smother you with attention, so you can't have contact with other people without their presence.  They may complain that your family/friends have been horribly rude to them.

Usually it's not a deliberate, Machiavellian plot to isolate you and make you dependent on the abuse. The disordered person may not even be consciously aware of what s/he is doing.

The end effect, however, is the same.

from Gay Partner Abuse Project:
Imposed social isolation occurs with such frequency in domestic abuse that it deserves an independent classification. Partners are robbed of contact with other people, including family, friends, children and other loved ones to create a social deprivation that often causes the victim to be more reliant on the abuser while simultaneously preventing him from seeking support or successfully leaving the relationship. The following behaviors are the most commonly used in the imposition of social isolation:
  • blame of partner's friends or family for the couple's relationship problems
  • monitoring phone calls, mail, or visits.
  • demanding an accounting of partner's daily activities
  • insulting, threatening or assaulting partner's friends/family, driving people out of his life.
  • forcing partner to choose between the couple relationship and loved ones.
  • creating public scenes or disturbances when the partner is out with others.
  • stalking partner or other forms of surveillance.
If you have a partner who manages to throw a scene nearly every time you go out to dinner with another couple... you're going to cut back on evenings out. Or if, every time you go out with your friends for a girls or guys night out, and return to Armageddon, even though on the surface your partner may agree that you have every right to do so, over time, you may decide the pleasure and relief is outweighed by the cost.

Imposed Isolation - Isolation from friends, family and supportive communities is common among victims of abuse. Isolation is sometimes caused by an abusive person who does not want their victim to have close relationships with others who may challenge their behavior. Often, isolation is self-imposed by abuse victims, who out of a sense of shame or guilt, fear the judgment of others.
Sometimes, people with personality disorders use a technique of "Divide and Conquer" to retain control over the people closest to them. One of the most effective ways to maintain an abusive cycle is to ensure that the abuse victim does not have access to outside support. People who represent social rivals or who have a close relationship with Non-PD's are often criticized, split black, and made unwelcome and the Non-PD is warned to stay away.
Often, those who are victims of abuse participate willingly in the isolation because they are afraid of what might happen if they reach out to others:
  • Other's [sic] might not believe them
  • Other's [sic] might spread embarrassing gossip about them.
  • Others might try to intervene in a counter-productive way.
  • The abuser may find out and punish them.
Examples of Isolation
  • A woman is afraid to spend an evening with her friends because she knows her husband is jealous of the relationship she has with them and is afraid of how he will react when she comes home.
  • A man is afraid to call his parents long-distance because he knows his wife is jealous of them and will complain about the cost.
  • A young girl is afraid to spend time with peers because she is ashamed of her family abuse and does not want others to find out what goes on in her home.
  • A mother of a girl who has attempted suicide does not attend social gatherings because she is afraid people might ask how her daughter is doing.
  • A man will not speak to others about his wife's abuse of him because he is afraid he will look weak.
What NOT to Do:
  • Don't assume you are the only person in the world who is going through what you are.
  • Don't be ashamed of your situation.
  • Don't blame yourself for someone else's bad behavior.
  • Don't let yourself become Isolated.
What TO Do:
  • Remember there are millions of people going through the same thing.
  • Find people who understand Personality Disorders and who understand what you are going through.
  • Find A friend, therapist, coach or mentor who you can trust and visit with them regularly.
  • Pick the lesser of two evils - it is hard to break the silence but it is even harder to struggle alone.
If you are in a relationship and realize that you've become isolated, do everything you can to maintain or re-establish your lifelines to the outside world. Your number one job is to maintain your own safety and sanity, not to preserve the relationship at any cost.

My A-Z theme is Issues related to Mental Health or Mental Illness.

Have you even been emotionally isolated by a partner or parent?
Have you been concerned about a loved one
whose partner seems abusive?
Your thoughts?
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