More often than not, there was a time when the victim felt loved and cherished and believed they were at the center of the other person’s life. Nobody would be treated like white trash at the beginning and still stay glued and enthralled. There was a time when the abuser was charming, gentle, giving, and acting obsessively in love. It always starts out as something beautiful, something promising…

Until it isn’t anymore. As opposed to the general conception, grooming isn’t merely restricted to children. Adults in consenting relationships could be groomed as well [1].

Domestic abuse could be verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual, also including coercive control. People who abuse their partners are often fully aware of what they are doing, a process known as grooming. They are mostly narcissists, fully unable to thrive without fear and worship from others. These are people who have an inflated sense of self-importance and excessive self-admiration. People who suffer from daunting low self-esteem, using their intimidation of others as a booster – a very short-lived booster that requires constant renewal, consequently fueling an unquenchable thirst for dominance.

Abusers could also be sociopaths, having absolutely no interest in the feelings of others. They are unable to experience feelings of guilt, and they don’t care about laid-down rules and conventional ways of treating other people. Very similar to sociopaths, psychopathic abusers have a more intense disregard for human feelings and are twice as egotistical and unbothered.

Vulnerable, easy prey

They are predators – stalking, observing, watching, getting set, hitting hard on the prey, and slowly settling to a feast of emotional torture.

They usually seek out people who would be easy to manipulate, and they’ll take time to nurture their targets [2]. They’ll usually go in head first with the romance, pulling out all the weapons in the romantic arsenal to turn their prey to doodley-eyed lovers. Contrary to conventional beliefs, people of both sexes could be the abusers, typically enslaving their partners with no sense of conscience or remorse [3].

Anna is 30, and Jacob is a 62-year-old pensioner who lives alone. He has no children and has been widowed for 10 years. Anna spots him sitting alone at a coffee shop, watching a young couple fumbling in the far corner. As a master manipulator, she immediately spots the droop in his shoulders and longing in his eyes. Anna makes her move at him, and he flushes deeply at the hot, young, attractive women with lustrous hair flirting with him.

The relationship slowly takes off, with Anna giving Joe a kind of sizzling romance he’d never experienced. She would leave work early to be with him, giving him all her attention and listening to his sad tales. She’d comfort him and croon to him, treating him like he was the most precious thing in the world. She kept him away from everybody else, including his family (the isolation process). She was gentle with him in bed, never demanding too much and taking all his age could permit him to give. He was always on cloud 9 with her, until the day she requested him to change the payment account of his pension allowances to hers.

He was shocked at such a request and subsequently refused, but Anna pulled in all the points she gained during the grooming process, making him feel deeply guilty, as though he couldn’t reciprocate her commitment. She played the part of the heartbroken, untrusted partner, and he caved, giving her full access to all his pension allowances.

The romance is a means to an end

Most abusers do not believe in equality in a relationship. They cannot cope without the element of fear and terror. They will not accept rejection or refusal. They despise being challenged or stood up to. They will hurt their victim and quickly switch back to the romantic phase, a technique of gaslighting [4].

Sexual violence and predation often times takes this route. The stronger partner would entice the weaker one with gifts, sweet words, romantic gestures, gentle PDA, and obsessive attention. They’d go out of their way to put their victim’s mind at peace, eliciting a strong trust system with no glitches.

It will go down-south very quickly when the victim refuses their sexual advances, even if it’s the first time they are coming on. They’ll usually attack or shake up their victim with violent gestures, and more often than not, the victim would cave in. Not merely from the fear of being hurt, but also from the mental cage created by the romance.

They’ve been intimidated and coerced into sexual intercourse, and the relationship would never remain the same.

They’ll usually turn the people “around” you to become “against” you

Abusers are smart, and they know that a person with a strong support system would eventually break free from their chains. If this happens, they lose all control and dominance. They’ll prevent this by spreading false stores about the victim to the victim’s family, circle of friends, co-workers, and everyone else who means something. Abusers are manipulators who are perfectly capable of presenting the situation as though they are the ones being abused or neglected. If there are children in the picture, they’ll weaponize them as well.

The victim will be painted as either delinquent, troubled, or mentally unstable. When they run to their family and friends, it’s usually difficult to gain their support. Everyone has been effectively groomed to water the abuser’s field.

Protecting yourself from abusive relationships

If you’ve been groomed and isolated by an abuser, the first step to breaking free would be to acknowledge that truly, you’ve been caged. You can’t fight what you are not against. Mere awareness isn’t enough to combat this process. Full acknowledgment and letting a sense of rage build up are essential to disengagement.

Let yourself awaken in the knowledge that someone has belittled you and taken advantage of you. Make a report to the police if you’ve been sexually abused, and take extra caution if your partner displays psychopathic tendencies. They might harm you.

Educate yourself on the facets and intricacies of coercive control, taking time to identify the tricks and schemes used by these abusers. Compare your findings with everything that’s been going on in your life and make a full evaluation of the situation.

Do not make excuses for them. You’ll only be pulled in deeper.

Speak to your therapist or a domestic violence advocate [5]. The abuse mustn’t be sexual or physical. As long as you’ve identified that someone has abused you in some way and scarred your psyche, open up to somebody. Counseling usually helps a lot.

Take care of yourself and learn to see through a person’s first impression before giving your heart out to them, but do not give up on romance. Love shouldn’t be terrifying.

References:

  1. “How Domestic Abusers Groom and Isolate Their Victims”, Psychology Today. February 2019.
  2. “Recognizing adult abuse, exploitation, and neglect”, NI Direct Government Services.
  3. “Differences in Female and Male Victims and Perpetrators of Partner Violence With Respect to WEB Scores”, PMC. February 2008.
  4. 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting“, Psychology Today. January 2017.
  5. Stages of Sexual Grooming: Recognizing Potentially Predatory Behaviors of Child Molesters”, TandF Online. February 2016.
  6. “What Is Coercive Control in a Relationship?”, Web MD. May, 2019.
  7. “How to Rebuild Yourself After an Emotionally Abusive Relationship”, Uplift Connect. November 2018.
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