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So I wrote a book about control...

Why is it still so dangerous to be a woman in 2021?

By Karen CavePublished 2 years ago 4 min read
So I wrote a book about control...
Photo by Agni B on Unsplash

So I got so angry, as a 41 year old woman in the UK who genuinely has felt frightened to be a woman, has even felt shame because of it, especially after the recent kidnappings and murders of several women, that I decided to do something about it. I wrote a book detailing every controlling behaviour I had ever experienced, within unhealthy relationships.

Through doing this I realised how many similarities these behaviours had, and how many other hundreds of times I had read or heard the same 'story of control.' You've probably heard or experienced it yourself: Woman meets perfect man, man sweeps woman off her feet, relationship rushes along at breakneck speed, only for woman to start experiencing jealousy, insecurity and rage at the hands of the man, for daring to continue to have a life, friends etc. The stories rarely end well. Generally woman ends up gaslit, manipulated to the point of nearly losing her mind (if she's lucky) or worse still, she can end up battered or dead. Having been isolated from everyone else in her life.

Narcissism is a disease that seems to be so prevalent, it's a wonder any of us ever experience what a 'normal, healthy' relationship is like. (Normal? What's that then?) And for the guys out there who are good, decent human-beings: these toxic behaviours must be utterly baffling to you!

When your father is abusive and your first ever adult romantic entanglement makes you deeply unhappy, it's no wonder I couldn't fall in love with a kind, caring, AVAILABLE man until fairly recently.

So, I wrote and self-published my fourth book, entitled 'Breaking Free: Recognising & Surviving Controlling Behaviours.' It followed on from my two most recent insane relationships; one being a sullen sociopath who began as 'Mr Perfect' until the day we moved into together and I was pregnant; the other being a 50-something man-child who wouldn't do anything until you asked him to do the complete opposite. I call him 'Mr Contrary couldn't-keep-it-in-his-trousers.' Dodged two bullets there, I'm telling you! I can joke it about it now, but these relationships really did wear me down. I questioned my own sanity, doubted my every decision and sense of who I am, after being told constantly that I was 'damaged,' 'fucked up,' and 'mad.'

As I freed myself I did a ton of research. I learned everything I could about narcissism and control. I realised that whilst not ALL controlling relationships end in violence, all abusers ARE CONTROLLING. And all controlling relationships have a tendency to escalate in severity over a long-enough time-line.

I realised that if you deconstruct an unhealthy relationship into its many hundreds of examples of weirdness, you basically have a controlling relationship. I began randomly writing down 'weird shit' from every unhealthy relationship, purely to get it out of my cluttered head and onto paper, and soon there were so many, I started categorising them, as they fell into easily distinguishable areas. The areas are: Physical, Social, Emotional, Financial, Sexual, Self-Esteem, and Children (parenting with an abuser).

I also started thinking about the misconceptions that many people have about domestic abuse, and how most of us still believe it is only abuse if there is violence involved. Not true. Emotional control - now recognised as a crime - being coerced, gaslit, lied to, confused, threatened, insulted, manipulated, called names - can do just as much terrible damage as being attacked. Except the bruises don't always show. But we are definitely damaged by it. We may even believe this crap, after all, this person knows and loves us, right?

Being raped, shouted at, intimidated, cut off from friends and family, stalked, followed, having affection or money withheld because we don't 'toe the line' - all terrible abuses of power. Control is control. It is ALL designed to make us pliable, amenable. And the controller is well aware of this. That's why so much of this behaviour is hidden, masked, disguised as other things.

It is a fact that domestic violence accounts for 20% of ALL crimes logged in the UK. Figures got worse during the pandemic, with abusers of course having everything to their advantage; even further isolation and inability to leave the house, for the victim. People couldn't reach out and ask for help, socialise as easily. Every lifeline was taken away for those in desperate need of help and support. Thank goodness for the internet. What would we do without it? All those hundreds of Facebook support groups, mental health charities etc. The ability to immediately message a friend: INVALUABLE.

It makes me sad and angry that the situation doesn't appear to be getting better. All that can improve is our education, learning about early red flags, teaching our teenage children about what constitutes 'real' love and what manipulation can look like. Surrounding ourselves with kind, healthy role-models and ditching the ones who drain us. Looking out for friends and neighbours who seem to be 'stuck' in toxicity. Why aren't we taught this stuff in schools? Why do so many of us have to learn the hard way?

Stay free and happy everyone.


About the Creator

Karen Cave

A mum, a friend to many and I love to explore dark themes and taboos in my writing. I am an optimist with a dark side...

Hope you enjoy! I appreciate all likes, comments - and please share if you'd like more people to see my work.

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