Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about isolation as it is used in abusive relationships. I have mentioned isolation in earlier blogs as part of abuse but have never really dissected this tactic. I saw a discussion in a domestic violence group I follow and thought the women’s question was not only valid but a good look into where she was struggling to break free from the lie of isolation.
The role of isolation in abuse is simply to “cut off” anyone or anything that might help the victim see what the abuser is doing to them. Abusers cut their off victims from family, friends, work companions, pets (this happened to me) and the list goes on. They will interfere with their victim at work (me!). They will interfere with their victim at school. They will interfere in their victim’s friendships with the lying premise of isolation always being this: “I am the best person for you, all these other people don’t understand you or us. They aren’t supporting you. You don’t need them.” Let’s unpack this for a moment. What the abuse is really saying is this: “I and only I can and will meet your needs. Those people are no good enough for you and you are not good enough for them. You don’t need them, you only need me. Only I can support you like you need to be supported.” What is the common thread in what the abuser is really saying? The words “I” and “me.” The abuser is not really for the person they are isolating, they are only for themselves. They are not really being compassionate or helpful – they are being selfish and manipulative. In love, there is no isolation so I’m going to go as far as to say they don’t really love you – they are just using you to meet their needs. Solomon said in Proverbs: “Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10). I believe he was using the term “compassion” loosely and introducing a paradox here to his readers. It won’t make sense to you because it is not supposed to make sense.
**I can tell you from experience the isolation tactic is used rather stealthily at first. It starts a little at a time and with little questions about others you know. It may start as something like this: “I don’t see you enough during the week.” Putting pressure and guilt on the victim to comply with the abuser’s need. It may also sound like this: “I don’t like your friends, they annoy me. Can we find you some new ones?” Again the abuser is applying pressure to their victim in an attempt to get them to do what they want. Isolation will go from these “little” questions to in many cases, victims can’t leave their homes without permission or if they are allowed to leave, they are tracked on phones to know their whereabouts. This further isolates the victim from help them because if they divert from the “routine of the day” the abuser will know where they have been and demand to know why. I can distinctly remember the day my late husband asked me to download an app so we could “track each other for safety.” He was an ex-cop so I think he though this probably sounded like a “decent, loving motive.” He wasn’t tracking me for safety, he was tracking me because he didn’t want me to do what he didn’t want me to do and honestly, he didn’t trust me. Abusers never trust you, even if you have never given them a reason to. This was nothing more than the tactics of control and isolation parading themselves as “care for my safety.” Do not be deceived! I’m smart and I was duped. I was duped for 5 years. It was not until he passed away and I was out from under his thumb that I realized many of the things he had been doing were abusive. I had quite the eye-opening experience.
I want to tell anyone reading this right now, if someone is trying to isolate you, they are controlling you, and they do not love you. They do not care for you. They do not want you to be safe – they just want you to do what they want you to do and they will isolate you in whatever way they can to get you to comply. This is not a partnership, it is a master-slave relationship and you are the slave. Always remember, evil can look good, sound good, smell good, and even speak well, but it will never be good!
If you are in a relationship and you are being isolated, you are living in a lie, a lie created by your abuser. You deserve better and you can find a person who really does love and care for you. Find a safe place to reach out to family and friends. Find a safe co-worker to talk to. Allow these people to help you escape your isolation. Plan your safe escape carefully and secretly. Be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). Abusers are not as clever as you might think; they will always make a mistake because of their pride and arrogance. Mark my words.
There is life after isolation – a good, full life for you and your children! My life is living proof of that! I will never let someone isolate me again for I know what it looks like now and so will you. I speak freedom to you this day! I speak wisdom and discernment to you this day! I speak life to you this day! Come out from that dark place of isolation and see the life Jesus has waiting for you! It will not disappoint! Love, Elizabeth
**For more of my story see my book The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope and Everything In-Between by Elizabeth Billingsley. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Audible.com