Every person is given, by God, inalienable rights. The US constitution affirms this. Unfortunately there are some people who firmly believe that their rights are more important then anybody else’s. In order for abusers to maintain control and reinforce their belief in their personal right to rule over another person, they will force requirements and restrictions that are completely unreasonable. I have taken the time to compile some of the requirements and restrictions that victims have been through. All of these are true stories although I have changed names for protection from their abusers.
Lyn: There were so many little things that were completely ridiculous that when I think about it now I am shocked that I did it. I had to count the amount of paper I used when I printed something and I had to mark down the number on a piece of paper. I was ‘gifted’ with a $5 allowance per week to use on my personal needs. I was not allowed to drive his truck because it was my fault when someone had hit it, years ago. When we went to bed I had to lay perfectly still. I was not allowed to ‘wiggle’ and get comfortable until he was sound asleep. I also was not allowed to shower before he did in the morning because he thought I left the bathroom a wet mess. It didn’t matter if I was meticulous about drying out the shower stall!
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He requires that she be accountable to him for even the smallest daily action and this keeps her from enjoying basic freedoms. Her personal money was all dependent on him so that she ‘learned dependence’. Her basic comfort was restricted because his was more important. Restricting her basic human needs was what this abuser required.
Lori: He would monitor how I hung the laundry out and how I did the washing up. If it was not his way, he would make me watch him do it while lecturing me on the ‘right way’ (his way) to do it.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He did not allow her complete tasks and to own her adult responsibilities. Basically, he reinforced the message that she had an inability to function as an adult.
Louise: I had to call when shopping with the children to prove I was at the store.
Lauren: He used to set the timer on his stop watch….it timed how long it took me to go get milk from the local shop….
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? This requirement restricted her freedom of movement and also reinforced the message that she was not to be trusted. She knew, that she could not get away from him or ‘get away’ with anything he did not approve of.
Lynnette: I was never allowed to wear anything really nice if we ever going out to a Christmas do, if I did he’d say ( What the f*** I’m I suppose to wear now ) it’s was very odd, and quite disturbing.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? What she wore, effected him and held him up to a standard that he was not will to meet. By putting her down, he allowed himself to be in control of her image as well as his own.
Lorraine: I was made to write out a daily routine which he had to agree to and I had to stick to.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He treated her like a child who was incapable of monitoring her own activities. She knew that he was in charge of her every move.
Lacey: Mine made me sign a contract to say I’d never see my best friend again because she ‘let’ me call police one night after escaping to her house.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He punished her for keeping herself safe. He also restricted her access to getting help again. He required her to give up a relationship so that he wouldn’t be held accountable for his actions.
Lola: I had to remove my nose piercing a month after we got together. I wasn’t allowed to wear the two pairs of earrings only one in each ear.
He chose my tattoos so that they were girly because I like gothic stuff.
I wasn’t allowed to wear any black only if it was underwear or when I dressed up (sex)
I had to wear only ‘girls clothing’ no combat trousers or my Dr. Martens.
I had to even change my accent. I’m originally from south England but he said it made me sound like a man so had to do a Welsh accent, it’s ruined my voice.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? Pressures her to be like him, denies her, her individual tastes.
Lexi: Monitor the heat of my bath. It always had to be scalding hot, enough to turn me red and for me to be dizzy and faint when I got out.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He doesn’t respect her self care boundaries.
Lina: I had to wake up every morning at least 30 minutes before. I had to have his kit out, daysack packed with his kit, boots polished, breakfast made and pack lunch made before he came downstairs. After my son was born and I’d be up all night breastfeeding or when he was older with colic and teething I still had to do all this and wasn’t allowed to see to my son until it was done. I had to magically get it done within 10 minutes because he would wake my son with his elephant feet. He would call me all sorts before he left for work.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He put himself as the most important entity in their home. He did not respect or allow her to sleep, required her to put his needs above her needs and her child’s needs.
Lee: I had to sleep in bed facing inward so I was facing him when we got into bed. Not allowed to turn over whilst he was awake. Always had to kiss him before getting up on a weekend or he’d ignore me the whole weekend and ruin any plans.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? He restricted her physical movements. He made her sleeping pattern a matter of his control.
Lily: I can remember him always wanting a bit of cold water in his tea and he wouldn’t drink it unless I did this.
One night he made me sit on the floor while he was lying in bed watching television and I wasn’t allowed to get up until he said I could.
HOW IS THIS A RESTRICTION OR REQUIREMENT? The tea requirement made sure that his needs were always met first and she was responsible for meeting his needs. Being made to sit on the floor was simply him asserting his power over her.
There are many other ridiculous requirements and restrictions that abusers can make in a relationship. Sometimes they restrict access to transportation, restrict school attendance, require or restrict her ability to work outside the home and that she must be available for sex whenever her demands. The thing to recognize is that restrictions and/or requirements are happening in your relationship and they are being used to control and manipulate you. Your rights and needs are not being met at the expense of his.
God calls us to sacrifice for one another, but he does not ask us to give our souls up to abuse. Abusers are very skillful at making their victims feel guilt, shame and responsibility for the abusive relationship. They are masters at manipulating situations so that only their needs are met. This manipulation causes much confusion and forces the victim to mentally wade through a mine field to find the strength and the fortitude to get safe.
God does not manipulate. He does not cause guilt and shame. His requirements are straightforward and always based upon His love for you. His restrictions are always because He loves you and wants what is best for you. If you sin, He will forgive and offer protection, love and healing to those who seek him. His, is a story of love not of control. If these stories of control, manipulation and abuse resonate with you, feel free to contact me or leave a comment, sharing the ridiculous restriction or requirement that you lived through. Let us support and love one another just as Christ would have us do.
Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
**Inspired by Clare Murphy’s Power and Control wheel