Has your partner ever said to you, “You’re the controlling one! You are always trying to control me! You’re a controlling bitch!”
These accusations can create confusion for the woman. So let’s clarify a few points.
It is not control when you:
- Demand that someone treat you properly, insisting that your rights be respected (including demanding that you be spoken to with respect)
- Challenge someone about the work they are creating for you (such as by leaving messes around the house)
- Press someone to meet responsibilities that they aren’t meeting (and if you have to keep asking them over and over again, that doesn’t make you controlling, it makes them irresponsible)
- Challenge someone about behaviors of theirs that have large implications for the couple (and for the family if you have children), such as abusing alcohol, gambling, ignoring the children, or being mean to the children
- Call the police because someone is hurting you or threatening to hurt you
It is control when you:
- Ridicule someone, make them feel stupid, or call them demeaning names, especially when you are doing so in order to force them do something or to silence them
- Physically or sexually intimidate someone
- Get revenge on someone for not doing what you told them to do or for standing up for their own opinions
- Impose double standards (make different rules for yourself than for the other person)
- Pressure or manipulate someone into sexual contact that they don’t want
I’m willing to bet that when he calls you controlling, he is referring to things you do from the first list, and that when you call him controlling, you’re referring to things he does from the second list. He's the one getting it all backwards.
Another useful, though tricky, concept: It’s control when you are trying to take someone’s rights away, and it’s self-defense when you are trying to keep someone else from taking your rights away. (The reason this gets tricky is because the controlling man will often say that you are trying to take his rights away, because he thinks he has the right to abuse you.)
And a last concept: The abusive man will call you “controlling” for resisting his control. Noticing when this is happening will be a huge help to you.