Regaining control following Domestic Abuse

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker

Every facet of domestic abuse is motivated by the desire to gain and maintain power and control over another, often an intimate partner.

Abusive men operate in both covert and overt ways to rule, check, limit, curb, regulate, restrain, direct, command, force and dominate their intimate partners. In a healthy relationship, partners generally have more or less equal amounts of control. In an abusive relationship, the abuser seeks to remove control from his intimate partner; leaving her weak and easier to manipulate, dominate and abuse.


When we lose our control, with it goes our confidence, self-esteem, happiness, motivation, sense of purpose, autonomy, enthusiasm and wellbeing. Without a sense of control over our lives, we will risk feeling disorientated and directionless even long after the relationship has ended. It is imperative to healthy recovery, that we learn how to take back control and re-establish our sense of direction and purpose.

It can be confusing to know where to start in the process of regaining control.

First we need to work out what potential control we do have. I use the term potential because there is a difference between having control available to us and feeling able to utilise this control.

But it’s vital we establish what we can potentially control.

Many women whose control has been taken away from them in abusive relationships won’t acknowledge they have the potential to control various aspects of their lives. If they don’t acknowledge they have the potential to control various things, they almost invariably won’t be able to. To achieve something, in this case control, we must believe this achievement is possible. A very useful tool that can be used to establish the potential control we have over various aspects of our lives is the ‘sphere of influence’.

Firstly, it’s important that we identify what we can control, or, have the potential to control once we feel able to.

When recovering from domestic abuse, we will often imagine that the perpetrator controls our emotions and feelings. He may have been so abusive that we are left with low moods, anxiety and trauma. However if we don’t acknowledge that we have any element of control over how we now feel, we won’t believe there is potential to recover, and consequently recovery won’t happen. We will be left feeling helpless and at the mercy of others.

We need to believe we have at least the potential to control how we feel. If we don’t, we risk remaining in a rut and forever being the victim of someone else’s abuse of us. I very much know it might be difficult to take control of these areas, but it’s certainly possible and it’s important that we acknowledge that it is possible.

We may identify the following in this inner circle as areas that we have the potential to control:

  • Our thoughts
  • Our actions
  • What we eat
  • Where we focus our attention
  • What we say to others
  • Our mood
  • How we think about past events
  • How much value we place on ourselves
  • Our self-care routine

Next, we might consider areas in our life that we may have some influence over. For the remainder of this blog, please visit Sandra’s own website 

Blog written by BWP Outreach Worker, Sandra Reddish.

Sandra hopes to reach thousands more women by sharing her wisdom in a new book One in Four Women,  which is now for sale on Amazon. In the self-published book, Sandra shares her incredible knowledge of the vital steps to recovery for women who have been abused. Starting with their gaining a solid understanding of the complexity of abuse they’ve faced, and perpetrator’s behaviour.

You may also want to read these further blogs from Sandra.

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