Social support is the ability of your social network to provide you with material and psychological resources to help you cope with stress.
According to the American Psychological Association APA, social support is related to many aspects of health and wellness.
In the absence of social support, people move towards maladaptive behaviours such as depression and loneliness that increase the risk of alcoholism use, altered brain functioning, cardiovascular disease and in severe cases, early death. It is necessary to have such support in your life to make sure you do not face any threats of this nature.
Why do I tell you this? Well while in a relationship with an abuser, they start to target this social support system and make it unavailable for their targets, to keep them trapped and needing of them as their sole social support!
They are well aware that if their partner doesn’t have a support chain and social connections within their life, it makes it easier to manipulate their mind.
You may be wondering how this all starts. It is amazing at how in depth it is and equally very sad as to how far it all goes from someone who at that point in time you trust to have your best interests at heart.
They start by collecting information about all the close people in your life, they show genuine interest when talking about your family and friends. It is a relatively easy process for them as at this point in the relationship they are shining the focus on you. This is when they provide full concentration to other people at the start of the relationship. They listen carefully all about your friends and family and ask you any additional questions about your life if necessary.
Spotting the Target
After collecting all of this information they identify the people who pose a real threat to the their goals and ambitions in controlling and manipulating you. These include the closest members likely of your family who usually can influence life decisions or choices that you make such as your mum or best friend. They start to plant seeds of mistrust in you of that person and then there is an element of dislike and hate for these people that becomes apparent in the latter part of the relationship.
Making a Contact
Despite their dislike, they become eager to meet and spend time with these friends and family at the earliest and most frequent times possible. Usually, in a normal relationship this type of contact comes with a gradual and natural occurrences but they manipulate it to speed things up. It may seem that your partner is eager for serious commitment when the reality is completely different.
Without having proper contact, the abuser can’t turn you against the people close to you. To alter the perception, they meet people in your life showing great interest and appreciation. Suddenly, there come the complaints and pointing out from your partner of mistreatment from your close loved ones. It may include the trivial blaming of being ignored to more serious allegations that they are jealous of you, always put you down, lie to you- all sorts is used at this stage.
However, they always place themselves in the centre and ask you to love them more than others explaining how they have your best intention and are who you can trust and will look after / support you. And with this overwhelming showering of love, attention and care how can you not oblige?
Making a Choice
Frequently, they will also ask you to choose between them and other people in their lives stating things like they can't stand by and watch that person treat you badly. Their question is posed with such innocence that instead of seeing red flags, you feel a special attachment and love towards them. You may ask them to leave aside the matter for a time or you may give them more attention to make them feel better. However, they never leave the idea of choice until you make a final decision and cut ties with your connections. With such a loving partner, you then start to cut and loose more and more of your other important social connections and support circle.
Another tactic they use is to make fun of your friends and family in a humiliating manner. Things always start by mentioning people implicitly. Gradually, they add the element of comparison into it making you once again choose who is more important? They take matters to the point of where you then start to hesitate to show association with people who are an important part of your life and employ avoidance tactics so that you are not individually or in a group setting mixing with these people.
This is an especially prevalent trait in narcissistic abusers they have a natural tendency to play victim!
To break the connections in your life they become victimised and treated badly by your so called friends and family! You become quite confused by how your kind friend has turned into an envious monster overnight? You wonder if you just didn't see it before and you begin to trust more and rely on the perception of your partner and reject the warning your gut is sending you.
In front of you, there is a person with whom it always seems the world is unfair to and because you have this love and adoration for them you cannot risk hurting that person anymore so naturally you protect them from your horrible friends and family who just don't understand them.
Fear of Abandonment
Along with playing victim, abusive people will also give you implicit threats of leaving you if you do not take their side. This is one trick that commonly works the most. You are feeling burdened with receiving so much love and you find yourself in a position where you cannot leave because of the responsibility of reciprocating this love back. You are made to constantly feel like the person you are with and you are connected on such a different level, and you fall into the trap of feeling you cannot risk anything that means losing them and risk facing abandonment of them. This works so well for the abuser and becomes a coming fear that they build upon taking to new levels to deepen.
Snatching Financial Independence
Lastly but not the least, they take your financial independence gradually. They may coax you into thinking that money is more important than being with those ungrateful friends and every monetary decision you start to make you should pass through their approval. They may make joint financial accounts, in the name of ease with the reality meaning that you have limited capacity to act financially. They do not care about saving some pennies or planning for the future. They are only concerned about taking everything that in one way or the another allows you to build other relations and connections with people outside of the relationship and putting you in a position of financial restriction is another way of isolating you.
Abusers feel threatened with your other connections because they are unable to have or may have not had any secure relationship in their entire life.
When this is not available to them, how on the earth it could be available to others? There main driving factor in causing you isolation though is so that when you have no other options of interaction and you feel that they are your everything and only option they can be sure that you will choose them every time and as a result can impart more and more abusive behaviour towards you growing more and more secure that you will stay with them, lovingly and loyally. I hope this gives you an insight behind some of the actions and behaviours that abusers use to create isolation around you and within your life.
As always if I can be of any use to you and you would like to become a member of my new support group for those whose lives are affected by living around abuse please do join. It's time to take back your power- Join here.