Possessiveness is a sign of vulnerability, but is a nightmare for the target

While you are taught to manage your anger, you will continue to probe issues underlying abuse – power and control- so it is vital in individual counselling to explore how you control. To do this, examine closely the daily tactics you have used, and see, for example, if you frequently check to assure yourself that your partner loves you. Perhaps, you often test her to assure yourself that she is yours and yours only. Maybe you insist on affection or sex when your partner doesn’t feel like it, or refuses because she is busy with something else, and you get angry and try to make her feel guilty. You might be obsessed about where she is and what she is doing at all times, or convinced that she is cheating on you.
Remember that possessiveness is nourished on feelings of abandonment and feelings of not being good enough. You attach rather than love. Suffocate rather than liberate. Your therapist will help you restructure the internal image you have of yourself, formed at the core when you were an infant, and is now outside conscious awareness. Changing your core can take a long time, and involves the counsellor watching the emotions that underlie your urge to control, and bringing them into awareness. If you are a male abuser, your therapist will put some focus on your father. Donald Dutton found that the biggest contributors to the abusive personality were, in order of importance, ‘feeling rejected by one’s father, feeling a lack of warmth from one’s father, being physically abused by one’s father, being verbally abused by one’s father, and feeling rejected by one’s mother’. As a male, you get much of your identity from your father, and if he only gave you conditional love, and punished you, the results were disastrous for you.

Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press


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