Isolation is a form of abuse often closely connected to controlling behaviors. It is not an isolated behavior, but the outcome of many kinds of abusive behaviors. By keeping her/him from seeing who she/he wants to see, doing what she/he wants to do, setting and meeting goals, and controlling how she/he thinks and feels, he/she is isolating her/him from the resources (personal and public) which may help her/him to leave the relationship. By keeping the victim socially isolated the batterer is keeping her/him from contact with the world which might not reinforce his/her perceptions and beliefs. Isolation often begins as an expression of his/her love for her/him with statements like if you really loved me you would want to spend time with me, not your family. As it progresses, the isolation expands, limiting or excluding her/him contact with anyone but the batterer. Eventually, she/he is left totally alone and without the internal and external resources to change her/his life.
Isolation is an effective method for gaining power and control. Without social contact and support, the victim is more easily manipulated. As contact with other people diminishes, the victim becomes more dependent on the abuser, and may come to see the abuser as her sole source of emotional nurture and practical help. This dependency may make it harder for the victim to identify and weigh options or to find alternate ways to get her needs met.
The number one tool of abusers is isolation. The reason why it is the most used form and usually one of the first forms of abuse is two-fold. First, isolation keeps the victim dependent upon the abuser. Second, isolation keeps the victim from connecting with help. If the victim can connect with people, read books or in any other way be influenced or educated about abuse, then the victim will be more likely to leave. By isolating the victim, the abuser attempts to create an environment where the victim becomes solely reliant on the abuser.
Isolation can happen in any number of ways. The first thought of isolation is physical location. An abuser will attempt to physically move the victim away from family, friends, co-workers and even towns, cities and states which are familiar to the victim. Some steps toward total isolation and control:
Step 1: Cause division with family and friends
This begins on an emotional plane. The abuser will question the validity of the victim’s relationships. The abuser might cast doubt on their intentions, their honesty or even their love toward the victim. Emotional distance is the goal. If the victim is isolated emotionally, then the victim will rely on the abuser even more to fill emotional needs.
Step 2: Prevent the victim from making new friends by being jealous
This is successfully done through jealousy. This is a step that escalates quickly. The abuser leads the victim to believe he/she loves him/her and wants to protect him/her from people who do not really care about them. The abuser will restrict the victim from making new relationships, under the disguise you must spend all your time with the abuser. Later, the victim becomes extremely careful not to trigger the abusers jealously by allowing themselves to be isolated from others.
Step 3: Prevent the victim from joining the community through intimidation
Again, isolating the victim from the others serves to ensure the victim remains naïve to the abuse.
Step 4: End the victim’s attempts at having a ‘life’
The abuser needs the victim to stay home and allow the abuser to solely support the victim, so now the abuser begins to shut down the victim’s life. The abuser will verbally harass the victim and purposely get the victim into a fight with the abuser to prevent the victim from even attempting to leave the house. The abuser’s goal is the victim’s co-dependence upon the abuser.
Step 4: Physical Isolation
The abuser will move the victim away from everything the victim knows and loves. The victim is effectively, isolated and trauma bonded to the abuser.
If you need help
Visit ONE PLACE Family Justice Center at 530 S. Lawrence Street, Montgomery, Alabama or call 334.262.7378 or if you are in immediate danger Call 911.