Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
I sat, stunned, in the driver’s seat, still gripping the steering wheel now that the van had stopped sliding. The roads had iced over while I was in the last store and I didn’t realize it. I looked back at my boys, worried. Thankfully they were both perfectly fine, and a little excited about our accident. I took a deep breath, thanked God that we were all okay and tried to drive away. I couldn’t. I put on the hazard lights and stepped out of the vehicle to find out what was wrong, expecting to find a flat tire. What I found was the tire leaning away from the vehicle at a 45 degree angle. I’d snapped the axis. My biggest fear was telling my husband what happened. I called him from a nearby office and, surprisingly, he took it very well. I also called a friend to come pick up the kids so I could wait for the tow truck without making them continue to sit in the broken vehicle. My husband was just leaving work when this happened. It took about four hours for him to drive the usually 20 minute trip. He lectured me about how he had done it safely, even if it took a long time, and I hadn’t been able to drive 5 minutes safely. While our van was in for repair, insurance covered the cost of a rental vehicle. He drove the rental vehicle to work instead of his car. I wasn’t allowed to drive his car with the children inside because it was old and you could smell exhaust in the car, so we had to stay home. When I needed to buy groceries, he stopped at the store on his way home from work so I wouldn’t have to go out on the icy roads. When we finally got the van back, he continued to drive it to work instead of his car. I told him I needed the vehicle to make a long shopping trip, so he took the day off work to drive me to the store. He was “protecting” me from another accident. He was, in reality, punishing me for having one to begin with. He often tried to keep me from driving when the roads were, in his opinion, bad. He refused to let me take one of the boys to a birthday party one day when he was home from work because it had snowed. His “protection” destroyed my reputation for being reliable and effectively isolated me
We all long to be cared for and protected. We enjoy the feeling of a strong partner who shows concern over our well being. What do you do, thought when that caring and protection turns into abusive control and punishment? When it goes so far as to undermine your abilities to be a parent or even an adult?
Abusive Protection/caring doesn’t show love, real love is trusting in yourself, your partner and in your relationship. An abuser goes overboard to show you just how much they ‘care’ for your wellbeing and instead, they end up showing you just how controlling and manipulative their idea of caring is.
“These kinds of beliefs (male entitlement) lead to behaving in over-protective ways in the guise of caring. This includes begging the woman not to go out alone or she might get raped, telling her she never has to work (even though she wants to) because he wants to take care of her, taking her to and from work so her co-workers will not get ‘ideas’, or attempting to keep her at home by saying he worries when she’s away.” ~Clare Murphy PHD
Over-protection in the form of caring can take on a couple of different faces. An abuser may restrict your daily movements or monitor where you are at all times. If you are out of the house he’ll call repeatedly to check up on you. If you are at work he may come by a few times per day or text you so much that you cant get your work done. If you aren’t where he thinks you should be or if you don’t return his calls/texts in a very timely manner he will become irate. He may be ridiculously jealous and tell you that he is only that way because he ‘loves you so much’. His jealousy is really just another form of ownership. Society teaches girls that if he’s jealous its because he really loves you. The truth is that jealousy is not love, it is not caring it is ownership and entitlement. It is mistrusting and abusive. He believes that he owns you, you are in his life to reflect and represent him, that is all.
Over-protective abusers will accuse their partner of having imagined affairs. It won’t matter how much evidence the victim has to the contrary, the abuser will adamantly insist that she has cheated. Research indicates that victims are in the most danger when they are in the process of leaving. This is because the abuser has lost control and ownership of his victim and he must do everything in his power to regain it. Many abusers have been heard to say “If I can’t have her, then nobody can.”
Hyper-vigilant over-protection is a very dangerous thing to live with. It will lead the abuser to display aggressive behaviors such as anger, intimidation, possessive and sometimes, even murder if they feel their significant other is pushing them away. Over possessive abusers will often cyber stalk and/or physically stalk their victims. This will lead the victim to question her choices to leave and might force her back into a relationship with him for her own safety. If she’s with him, he might not kill her.
Quickly the ‘Night is Shining Armor’ relationship has been replaced with ‘You are my property’. The victim will be left reeling, trying to figure out what in the world has happened and when did it change? She spends her time trying to figure out what she is doing to be accused of hurting him and of making him jealous. In reality, she would do better to step back and try to categorize the ways that he is controlling and owning her. Then, she can start to make a plan that will enable her to escape from his control. If his protection and caring feels more like punishment and ownership, then the odds are that he is abusively over-protecting you.
God gives each person free choice to choose him or to walk away from him. He does not force love. He doesn’t require obedience in an abusive way. He encourages, loves and draws us into a love relationship with Him. Our earthly relationships should be this free and honest. We should be able to base our love on trust and encouragement. Our desire for our partner, when we truly love, will be that they will become the best person they can be.
God does not require you to live in slavery to your partner. He demonstrates freedom and dreams for your freedom. Loving you, encouraging you and helping you will never be possessive or overly jealous. You are free to become who you are meant to be with God.
*inspired by Clare Murphy’s Power and Control wheel