The normalization process
There are disagreements and conflicts in every relationship. In relationships where the balance of power is equal the arguments are mostly about every day issues. But in a relationship where one person uses violence, the problem is never the everyday issue, it´s the physical abuse that´s the problem. But the woman acts like it´s the disagreement which is the problem, and she´ll try and do anything to make the man look at things from her perspective, which can´t be done, since his goal isn´t peace and understanding. The abusers goal is power and control. This imbalance characterizes all parts of the relationship, and eventually, it becomes “normal”.
For the rest of us the way he acts is completely unacceptable The way he makes jokes on your behalf, the way he comments on your looks and the way he controls who you see and how your ”fights” look like.
But in a relationship like this, the abnormal becomes normal.
Most of these relationships start out with both parts being madly in love with one another. You feel that for the first time someone really sees you for who you really are. Then it escalates quickly, taking the relationship to another level (like moving in together very fast) very quickly. He is very attentive of you, gives you lots of presents, compliments, appreciation and affection. All of whom are very grand. You have constant text-conversations, and he often calls you, being jealous in an adorable way. He picks you up from all of your social activities and says he´d rather spend time with you than anyone else in the world.
Then he might start to give you little recommendations about how you should live your life, how you should handle your social contacts and how to dress. Slowly but surely this escalates and becomes an endless critique. He ignores you to punish you. And in any means possible controls you with his temper.
He keeps you awake at night, to tear you down mentally, often because of some conflict that he wants to solve. But it isn´t a conflict, it´s a part of the game. He sabotages your relations with your friends and family and calls you mean things. Sometimes he starts using physical violence by this time.
Gradually, what seems normal slowly starts to change. Things that absolutely wouldn’t be acceptable in the beginning, now feels normal. If he would´ve acted like this in the beginning, you never would have stayed. Since the violence so slowly creeps up on you, you get used to it. You learn what you have to do to avoid his abuse. It´s usually now that he starts to use physical violence.
And you feel ashamed that you let him.
And now you don´t have any friends left to ventilate what is wrong and what is right.
Slowly but surely you start to take over his image of you. You don´t know any more what´s acceptable or not. You feel like you don´t have the strength to do anything and you have a lot of anxiety. You lose more and more of your own willpower, your self-confidence and your self-esteem. If he waits until now to get physically abusive, you have no way of resisting him. You will think it´s all your fault.
The escalation of abuse, or when it starts is different, and sometimes there is no physical abuse at all.
This is called the normalization process.
Women who live in an abusive relationship often get the question why she chooses to stay, and why she doesn´t just leave. Questions like this leads to her not daring to tell anyone about her situation, which leads to empowering the abuser even more. The normalization process makes something healthy, abnormal. And little by little the woman suddenly finds herself in a situation where she doesn’t control anything in her life anymore. And she puts all the blame on her.