Saturday, 15 August 2009


ISOLATION is required for abuse. Repeated abuse can't happen if the person being abused can speak out, be believed and supported, and sanctions are put in place against the abuser continuing. "Divide-and-rule/conquer" is a big part of isolation.
In politics and sociology, divide and rule (derived from Latin divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In reality, it often refers to a strategy where small power groups are prevented from linking up and becoming more powerful, since it is difficult to break up existing power structures.
One of my main aims with this blog is to articulate and study how patterns of oppression operate on a personal and family level using the same strategies and patterns as political oppression. I believe that the most powerful way for people to become safe from domestic abuse and child abuse is for communities to understand how oppression works and to apply this understanding to all the structures in our lives.
Typical elements of [divide-and-rule] are said to involve
Potentially, siblings living in a household ruled over by a tyrannical abuser could compare notes on their experiences, could identify patterns in his behaviour, could understand more about what their mum's going through and could unite to reduce his power and influence over them all. So before he can exert the worst of his behaviours he must first minimise the chances of this happening. So if a father is sexually abusing one or more children in the household he must say or imply "If you tell anyone ...." - so ISOLATION is so often backed-up with THREATS to be most effective. The other members of the household are silenced, they are divided, and they are ruled.
Children can be easily manipulated into joining in with verbal abuse against mum. They gain a sense of power (and perhaps material rewards from the abuser) from this, making them less likely to ally with mum in future. It can be very effective to play favourites with the children, gaining the strongest alliance from those who behave 'best' in the eyes of the abuser. This has the added benefit of creating jealously between the children and destroying their trust in one another, making them increasingly unlikely to unite against the abuser.

There is more to say about this, more to say, more to say...

1 comment:

  1. This thread really struck a chord for me. Growing up with domestic violence, I never tied in the 'playing favorites with the kids' with the abuse. The feeling of always competing to be the 'good one' rather than the 'bad one' lead to great insecurity. The violence that erupted between my brother and I around this, and what felt like the condoning of his violence, obviously made me feel extremly angry, but this anger (and that at seeing the way my dad treated my mum) had to be suppressed. What played out between my mum and dad played out between me and my brother. To this day he will not talk about the violence we grew up with (although he was more at the hands of it from my dad than i)and i wonder if that woul mean admitting not only those feelings of being a powerless male (masculinity)but also his own guilt at how he played out the violence, and his own fear that deep down he liked what that power over someone, that control felt like. I can totally see how the divide and rule idea worked in my home, it always felt like #everyman for themselves'. As an adult out of the environmnet, with my own autonomy, i can now offer that loyalty, that solidarity to my mum. On another note, i do strongly agree that isolation is a core method of control in all abuse situations, dependency on the abuser for what feels like your 'right to survive', critisism of one's choices, eg. we (me and mum) could never wear polo neck jumpers in my house or tie our hair up, (apparently it made us look like lesbians') control over how one spends her time, mum could never see her freinds as dad accused her of affiars and/or being a lesbian. i could go on. I just appreciate the chance to share my ideas through my experiences and actually to break that more desperately powerful of abusive strategies: silence.