This is a common tactic of partners in pathological love relationships, including those with Cluster B personality disorders like narcissism, anti-social and borderline, as well as other types of psychopathology.
It is hard to watch someone you care about suffer at the hands of a controlling partner or ex-partner. You may feel like rescuing them. You may feel like killing the abuser. You may get so frustrated that you want to walk away. It may make you weep with anger or sadness.
Don’t Give Up
Long-term patterns of abuse and control usually require long-term patterns of assistance before the target can escape.
Isolation poses the greatest risk in coercive control. Simply staying connected and spending time together or speaking on the phone helps isolated victims feel better about themselves. Connections with people outside the abusive relationship help them feel valued, capable and less alone, counteracting some of the abusers’ messages.
Controlling relationships have their ups and downs. Abused partners will be more willing to discuss the problems openly — and think about making changes — during a phase when they feel the tension building or immediately after they have suffered through a particularly bad episode.
On the other hand, during times when controlling partners use acts of love as a way to bolster the relationship, their partners are less likely to want to discuss problems or think about leaving. The victim may love the abusive partner deeply and be focused on pleasing them above all else. Remember, their self-esteem has probably been hurt by the abuse and the isolation.