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tigtog (aka Viv) is the founder of this blog. She lives in Sydney, Australia: husband, 2 kids, cat, house, garden, just enough wine-racks and (sigh) far too few bookshelves.

13 Responses

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  1. Laughingrat
    Laughingrat at |

    Hi, Tigtog. I’m torn–I really like the meat of this post, the part about emotional abuse and how insidious it is. It’s so important for us to foreground this often, because it’s so damaging and yet there’s even less support for victims of emotional abuse than there are for victims of physical abuse.

    I felt pretty conflicted about the part where you bought into the mental illness model of abuse, though. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be mentally ill to be an abuser–far from it–and that persons with mental illness are a lot more likely to be abused than abusers. Misogyny and other oppressions are more than enough to turn average schmucks into abusers–a diagnosis of mental illness, such as Antisocial personality disorder (aka “sociopathy”), isn’t really required. Implying that the two go hand in hand tends to obscure the real causes of abuse, namely, oppression culture. Seeing this kind of linking can be pretty hurtful to people with mental illness, too, “sociopaths” or not.

  2. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Thanks for commenting, Laughingrat. You’ve made me think, and largely what I was thinking while writing the post is that sociopathy doesn’t actually seem to be a mental illness, to me. The lack or compassion/empathy etc is certainly a mental/cognitive difference – but is it a mental illness?

    I could be way off base with that, though, and I certainly don’t have any relevant clinical expertise to justify using it in such a way if that differs significantly from how others are accustomed to using the term.

    The emphasis should be on the domineering manipulative behaviours rather than any label, because it is the behaviours which are so destructive no matter why somebody engages in them, so I’ll go through and edit the post to reflect that.

  3. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Post has now been edited to remove the word sociopath, and the following note appended:

    Editorial note: I was challenged rightly in comments below for using the word “sociopath” originally in the post above (I have edited the post to replace all instances with the word “Manipulator”) – I fell into the trap of using a clinical jargon word in a pop-culture way, which both trivialises and oversimplifies the real problem, which is not why Manipulators do what they do, but the simple fact Manipulators are abusers; the incorrect usage also buys into a mental illness model of abuse which is also oversimplistic and trivialising of deeper cultural structures that underpin abusive behaviours and who are considered acceptable targets for those behaviours.

  4. Chris
    Chris at |

    Generally, if I hear about a couple breaking up where one of them stays in the community and gets all the local sympathy while the other one moves hundreds or thousands of miles away ASAP, I begin to suspect that something extreme was happening in that relationship one way or the other and that the story being told by the “abandoned” partner may well not be the whole truth.

    One reason for this happening that I’ve seen is that many people seem determined to pick sides and attribute blame after a breakup, even where both members of the former couple don’t want that to happen. And people tend to stick with the person they’ve known the longest. With lots of people moving interstate for relationships its pretty common for the person who moved in to the area to move back where they came from so they can get the social support they need.

    I’ve had probably one of the the most amicable separations possible (especially given a child is involved) but many friends-in-common still insisted on choosing a side despite our wishes.

  5. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick at |

    Great post.

  6. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    I hear you Chris, and have seen it myself, which is why I specified moving hundreds/thousands of miles away, and why I should have specified “from family” in that sentence as well. It makes sense for someone whose relationship has broken up while living in somewhere that wasn’t their hometown to perhaps feel the need to return to their hometown. What I’ve also seen and which tends to make me suspect extremes is when one partner leaves their hometown where their parents and siblings still live after a breakup while the other partner stays, particularly if the one who stays is a blow-in. It reeks of desperate-to-get-away, and why should that be? Sure, sometimes it’s as simple as always wanted to travel and now I can, but in approximately a dozen cases over the years where a divorcing/separating hometown-leaver has confided in me, only one of them just always wanted to travel, a few took up a great job opportunity as a good chance for a fresh start, while at least half of the others were getting as far away as they could from controlling exes.

  7. Chris
    Chris at |

    tigtog @ 6 – yes moving away from family in those circumstances is certainly suspicious. I’ve done it in the past (and I moved halfway across the world!) but then I’m a bit of a loner and someone who will go to great lengths to avoid stressful situations :-)

    I’ll just add that I think Weber’s behavior was seriously abhorrent and deserves significant punishment.

  8. derrida derider
    derrida derider at |

    For the longest time, I bet most people in their community thought Webber was a really, really Great Guy to keep on standing by

    Na, IME possessive control freaks are soon seen through by most people. And contra some feminist opinion, most blokes do not approve of or support blokes who abuse women (or men, for that matter) – the problem is more that men are often oblivious to such abuse rather than supportive of it.

    In fact often the social isolation their behaviour creates drives possessive control freaks (of both sexes) deeper into possessive control freakery – as with so many personal pathologies, a vicious cycle is created.

  9. zoot
    zoot at |

    Can’t agree with you derrida, my experience has been otherwise.
    And surely if

    the problem is more that men are often oblivious to such abuse

    then tigtog’s statement

    I bet most people in their community thought Webber was a really, really Great Guy to keep on standing by

    is fundamentally true.

  10. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick at |

    the problem is more that men are often oblivious to such abuse rather than supportive of it

    Sufficiently advanced obliviousness is indistinguishable from support.

  11. Junit
    Junit at |

    Really interesting post, but that diagram is a Really Dumb Thing. It’s a great example of a blatant attempt to lend credence and gravitas to an idea by rearranging some words as word-art and pretending that you’re actually representing a coherent concept, when all you’re doing is vaguely gesturing at a bunch of ideas. Sure, those ideas are connected, but you don’t really know how. It could have fallen out of any self-help book, pop-psychology tract, snake-oil crystal healing pamphlet…

    Anyway, like I said, great article, but that diagram was clearly meant to impress the reader (“oooh look, a structured diagram, someone has really thought about this!”) but as someone who actually tried to make sense of it, it just made me laugh and shake my head. A shame, because it undermines the importance of your piece.

  12. Rebecca
    Rebecca at |

    Having been in this situation, the whole article rings true, especially the moving away to another city (Bendigo to Melbourne) and losing all the friends because my ex stayed local.

    Thankfully for me, I moved in with my next partner a few months later, made a stack of great new friends and started again with not too much drama.

    I did have to put up with several extra months of extra emotional abuse though, because I’d left my ex, and blah blah blah… which would often end up with me in tears. If only I had known that telling him that I was engaged would have made him leave me alone sooner, I so would have done it the moment I’d moved away.

  13. Helen
    Helen at |

    I’ve just read Phil Cleary’s book, Just Another Little Murder. For those not living in Victoria, Phil Cleary is an ex-footballer and Independent MHR whose sister was stalked and eventually killed by her violent ex. And you had better believe that the friends of the violent ex supported him all the way, while dropping a few crocodile tears, natch.

    It’s not Great Literature but I recommend it. (Cleary was instrumental in the ditching of Provocation as a defence in Victoria, after the Julie Ramage case which I wrote about on the Balcony.)

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