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Protect yourself

Does my spouse have a controlling behaviour? ¹

The following checklist shows the wide variety of tactics that are used by men with controlling behaviours. It will help you identify some that are used against you.

As you go through the checklist, mark the ones that are familiar to you. Then check your answers to see how many elements you have marked. Individually, many of them may seem insignificant, but your answers may reveal important tendencies.

Don't forget that this list of controlling behaviours is not an exhaustive one, covering only a fraction of the tactics used, so please add any that you have experienced that are not on the list. You will also find that some have nothing to do with your partner.

Control Through Criticism
Control Through Moodiness, Anger, and Threats
Control Through Overprotection and "Caring"
Control Through Denying Your Perceptions
Control by Ignoring Your Needs and Opinions
Control Through Decision Making
Control Through Money
Control Through Shifting Responsibility
Control Through Limiting Contact with Other People
Control Through Physical Intimidation
Control Through Sexual Humiliation
Control Through Physical and Sexual Violence

Control Through Criticism

 My partner's words or behavior indicate he thinks I never do anything right.      Nothing is ever good enough.
 My partner says I'm not supportive and loving enough; he wants all of my      attention.
 My partner is critical of the way I cook, clean, dress, make love, carry myself in      public, etc.
 My partner never gives me positive support; even compliments are backhanded      ("This is the first good dinner you've cooked").
 When I confide my insecurities, my partner makes fun of me.
 My partner calls me names: dummy, whore, cunt, bitch.
 My partner always corrects things I say or do; only he can do things right.
 My partner humiliates me about something I've done in front of family and      friends.

Control Through Moodiness, Anger, and Threats

 My partner gets mad if I'm five minutes late and I'm afraid.
 My partner expects me to read his mind and is furious when I can't or won't.
 Living with my partner is nerve-wracking because I never know what will set him      off.
 My partner blows up and refuses to speak to me when I do something he      considers "wrong".
 My partner withdraws into silence, and wants me to figure out what's wrong and      apologize for it.
 My partner gets very depressed and expects me to work very hard to cheer him      up.
 My partner says he'll never let me leave him.

Control Through Overprotection and "Caring"

 My partner doesn't like it if I'm away from home because he says he worries      about me too much.
 My partner is jealous when I talk to new people.
 My partner often phones or unexpectedly comes by the place I work to see if I'm      "okay".
 My partner does the shopping so I don't have to go out.
 My partner says I don't have to work because he wants to take care of me.
 My partner picks out my clothes because he loves to have me look just right.
 My partner takes to me work and picks me up so the men I work with won't get      "ideas".
 My partner encourages me to take drugs with him so we can share the high; he      accuses me of not caring if I refuse.

Control Through Denying Your Perceptions

 My partner acts very cruelly and then says I'm too sensitive and can't take a      joke.
 My partner promises to do things, breaks his promises, then says he never      promised in the first place.
 My partner causes big scenes in public and at family gatherings, and when I      confront him about it, he accuses me of exaggerating or making the whole thing      up.
 My partner shows excessive interest in my emotional life and tries to convince me      that I need to see a psychiatrist. By contrast, he is fine.
 My partner says I'm always imagining things.
 My partner hits me and then asks how I got hurt later.
 My partner does abusive things and when I become upset, he tells me I'm      hysterical. He asks me why I upset myself.
 My partner says he can help me fix my character defects. He gets me to make      lists of what's wrong with me.
 When I try to have a serious talk with him, my partner says, "There you go      again. Calm down."
 He treats me as though I'm upset when I'm not.

Control by Ignoring Your Needs and Opinions

 My partner never helps me when the kids are sick, or when I'm ill. Or he promises      to help me and then forgets.
 My partner expects me to drop my activities whenever he wants my attention,      but he never pays that kind of attention to me.
 When I try to talk, my partner constantly interrupts me, twists my words, or      forgets what I just said.
 When I want to resolve a problem, the subject is changed before I even realize      it.
 My partner shows up unannounced whenever he wants to, or fails to show up      when he said he would, so it's hard for me to make any plans.
 When my partner wants to go out on his own, he does; but I can't because the      kids are my responsibility.
 When I try to express my opinion about anything my partner doesn't respond,      walks away, or makes fun of me.

Control Through Decision Making

 My partner has to have the last word.
 I think we've reached an agreement about something, and then he goes out and      does just the opposite.
 If I bring up some decision he made but didn't consult me about, he asks me      why I'm harping on something that's already been decided.
 If I try to talk about a problem we've had, he accuses me of hanging onto things      and not being forgiving.
 My partner says some subjects are not open to discussion.
 My partner says that it's a man's responsibility to make the decisions for the      family.
 I have to ask permission to do something on my own, whereas he does things      on his own without consulting me or letting me know.

Control Through Money

 I can't get information about our financial situation even when I ask. My partner      withholds information and/or is patronizing about my ability.
 I have to account for every dime I spend and also figure out how to make ends      meet.
 My partner spends money on whatever he wants. He gets angry and blames me      when he needs money and there's none left.
 My partner won't give me a household allowance, so whenever I need some      money I have to ask him for it.
 My partner says that with all he does for me I ought to be glad to support him      financially.
 My partner gives me everything I want, but he always reminds me that I could      never live so well without him.
 My partner doesn't work. He takes money out of my pocketbook or steals my      stuff and sells it.

Control Through Shifting Responsibility

 If I tell my partner that he's too bossy and critical, he tells me I'm immature. We      always end up picking apart my personality.
 My partner says that he can't stay clean and sober because he lives with a bitch      like me.
 My partner says that if I ever leave him, he'll kill himself and I'll be responsible.
 My partner lost his job and blamed me for it. Now he refuses to work.
 My partner says he wouldn't lose his temper if I kept the kids quieter.
 My partner says he wouldn't go after other women if I kept myself up better.
 My partner says he'd take me out more if I weren't so stupid.
 My partner says he's always good-natured with other people, so it must be what      I do that makes him lose control of himself.

Control Through Limiting Contact with Other People

 When I want to go out, my partner starts a fight.
 My partner doesn't like me to spend time with my family, with or without him.
 My partner tells me I never give him enough of my time, that I care more for my      friends and family than I do for him.
 Although he never says it directly, I think my partner wants me to ask his      permission before I go somewhere.
 My partner grills me about what happened whenever I go out.
 My partner accuses me of having affairs.
 My partner makes me late for work or made me miss work so many times that I      lost my job.
 When I spend time with women friends, my partner accuses me of being a      lesbian.

Control Through Physical Intimidation

 My partner blocks the door so I can't leave during an argument.
 My partner scares me when he's angry by standing very close to me and      clenching his fists.
 When we argue, I'm sometimes afraid of what he might do, so I stop arguing.
 My partner drives recklessly whenever he is angry with me, and it scares me to      death.
 My partner throws things around and breaks things.
 My partner destroys my clothes and my favorite things.
 My partner refuses to leave when I ask him to.
 My partner won't let me sleep.

Control Through Sexual Humiliation

 My partner pressures me to have sex in ways that make me uncomfortable.
 My partner makes sexual jokes about me in front of the children and other      people.
 My partner makes fun of my body.
 My partner tries to seduce my friends and family members.
 My partner forces me to dress in ways he thinks are "sexy" but that make me      feel uncomfortable.
 My partner compares me to women in pornographic magazines and videos.
 My partner tells dirty jokes that are degrading to me and to women in general.

Control Through Physical and Sexual Violence

 My partner throws things at me.
 My partner pulls my hair.
 My partner beats my head against the wall.
 My partner chokes me.
 My partner kicks me.
 My partner shoves and pushes me.
 My partner restrains me or keeps me from leaving.
 My partner hits me.
 My partner forces me to have sex with others.
 My partner rapes me.
 My partner threatens me with weapons.
 My partner hurts me and then won't let me go to the hospital or to a doctor.


¹ From When Love Goes Wrong, Susan Schechter and Ann Jones, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1992.