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Ed Heisler, community education coordinator, was the speaker for the presentation which focused on how these sorts of abusive relationships work, and how abusive men gain control power and control over their partners. (Now it is important to consider the fact that there are men that are in abusive relationships, but it is vastly more common among women and so that is why the presentation and the shelter focus directly upon women as victims.)
What it comes down to in these sorts of relationships is domination and subordination, particularly through violence. To get a good idea of how power works in this sort of relationship refer to the power and control wheel which illustrates this article. The wheel was created by women who had direct experience with these types of relationships. The man wants the woman in the relationship to be exactly the way he imagines she should be and if the woman puts forth any resistance then it is answered back with more resistance. For instance a woman tries to stand up for herself within any sort of context, like a simple argument, and the man reacts by raising his voice, now she is scared and she may or may not proceed with standing up for herself. If she does stand up for herself, the man reacts with even more resistance by pushing her and calling her names. Generally there comes a point when the woman gets tired of trying to resist and instead just settles within the relationship. There are women take the risk and try to get help from places like Safe Haven, that is if they are even fortunate enough to have this option. For an idea of what a healthy relationship looks like consider the equality wheel attached.
Fortunately for us here in Duluth there is Safe Haven and they are here to help, if you know of any women or children in these sorts of situations you can call there crisis line 24-7 at 218-728-6481. Feel free to check them out on the web as well. http://www.safehavenshelter.org/