Power and Control Wheel: Intimidation
Making her afraid by
using looks, actions,
and gestures. Smashing
things. Destroying her
property. Abusing pets.
Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. I touched on this briefly in Power and Control Wheel: Coercion and Threats. The fact is that Bubba was very skilled at making all of us afraid of him with looks, actions, and gestures. When a man who is at least 8″ taller than you backs you against the wall and clenches his fists, the message is clear. He is bigger than you, he is stronger than you, and he can hurt you. More than that though is the intent – you know very well that there is only a small space between gesturing and doing.
He was very good at doing this to Serenity. She was 11 when she caught up to me in height. She has always been tall for her age but she is still nowhere the size of her father. Over the years I’ve seen her hide in her closet, cower into a corner, jump fences outside to get away from him, and even run away from home.
Smashing things. Bubba smashed things in anger. He broke a good plate by throwing it across the kitchen and it shattered when it hit the sink. (And guess who ended up cleaning it up? Certainly not him.) He threw various objects at Serenity over the years. He always seemed to miss her by mere inches. I don’t know whether he meant to miss her or if his aim was just that bad. Either way, it terrified her. And who in their right mind would throw objects at their child’s head and think it was ok to do so?????? And who would be baffled by the fact that that child wanted nothing to do with them as they got older?
Destroying her property. Bubba never really destroyed my property but he didn’t take care of it either. I treated the items in our home with equal care. After all, I viewed things in the home as belonging to the family and it was everyone’s job to take care of the things we worked hard to purchase. Bubba only took care of his things. If something belonged to me it was ignored, even if it was in danger of getting damaged. It just didn’t enter into his reality that he had a responsibility to share in the upkeep of our possessions. He took care of his stuff but never mine.
Abusing pets. We have a cat, Kitty. Kitty never liked Bubba. Bubba didn’t like Kitty. For the most part, they ignored each other. There were times that I’d go to bed and read for a bit, only to get back up for a drink of water to find Bubba holding Kitty in the crook of his arm. She would either look like she was sleeping but be tense all over or her eyes would be as round as saucers. Kitty has never been a lap cat. She just doesn’t enjoy sitting on anyone’s lap, even mine. He would force her to sit with him and you could tell she was too scared to move. I’d tell Bubba to move his arm so she could move and he’d either tell me she was fine where she was and refuse or he’d let her go and after she ran he’d blame me for bothering her. I never saw that he outright hurt her but forcing her to sit with him was abusive -especially considering Bubba established a pattern of doing it.
Displaying weapons. I would never consent to Bubba buying a gun although he talked about it often. I would tell him that if he took some gun safety classes and actually learned about guns, then we could discuss buying one. I thought it was fool-hardy to buy a gun and have it in the home when he didn’t know the first thing about them. It was a recipe for disaster. Bubba used this as another means of expressing his anger at me. He would complain that I didn’t “allow” him to get a gun but he never made any move to actually take a class and learn about them. It was always easier to just complain about what a horrible wife I was to deny him that instead of actually doing something to make it a reality. He got the best of both worlds. He got to play the victim and the martyr all in one fell swoop.
The day after the incident, I’d had police escort Serenity and me back to the house to pack up our things to go stay with my parents. Bubba showed up with a vicious looking hunting knife. He told the police that he bought it for protection because he didn’t know where he’d be sleeping since I kicked him out of the house. The officer took it from him before allowing Bubba to come into the house to talk to me. It was scary to realize that after he blew up like that one of his first thoughts was to purchase a knife. His first thoughts should’ve centered around what he’d done and how awfully he’d behaved. Nope. Bubba’s first thought was to buy a huge hunting knife.