Brainwashing and Abuse in Relationships
Brainwashing occurs in long-term abusive relationships but begins in the very beginning. I once pictured a brainwash-able person as a prisoner of war. Much later, I understood that brainwashing easily affects people just like me.
I doubt my husband brainwashed me on purpose. He did not have the military’s training for “successful negotiations” until late in our relationship. However, Lifton’s Brainwashing Process and the cycle of abuse are similar, and I definitely experienced the cycle of abuse.
Brainwashing is a process that breaks down the victim’s reality and replaces it with a substitute reality of the abuser’s choosing. Slowly and surely, my husband’s verbal abuse and emotional violence carried my mind to a very dark place.
I believed that I didn’t have a firm grasp on reality. Unfortunately, I relied on the one abusing me to give substance and “proof of life”. I allowed him to define me in many ways. When I left him, I had to concentrate to tell if the voice in my head was his or mine!
The confusion I felt resulted from brainwashing. At first, I thought I must be incredibly weak and confused to “allow” myself to fall so far under his spell. Picturing those prisoners of war, I thought, “You were not starved, beaten daily, repeatedly raped, or forced to recite nonsense like they were! You have no excuse for allowing yourself to be brainwashed! You are weak!”
Boy, was I hard on myself! But my self-abuse came from misunderstanding how brainwashing works. Women who stay in abusive relationships are not weak-minded! If you think so, then you need to read what’s next.
What Type of Woman Gets Brainwashed?
- perfectionists, and/or
- hold themselves to high standards, and/or
- persistent, and/or
- resourceful, and/or
- goal-directed, and/or
- self-sacrificing, and/or
- previous victims of abuse or neglect, and/or
- experience dependence, vulnerability, or incompetency issues.
Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you recognize yourself in the first five or six bullet points? If not, think back to the beginning of your relationship. Do you recognize aspects of who you were?
Featured image by Sander Sammy