Today I’d like to talk a bit about isolation as an abuse tactic. There are many ways for your abuser to isolate you from your friends, family, and any outside support. This can be done through manipulation, financial abuse, and control of your means of communication with the outside world.
Abusive persons will manipulate and even intimidate abused persons into feeling like they have no external means of support by taking steps to isolate them from their family and friends. This may involve physically moving away from family and friends to a new area where you won’t know anyone, or even if you don’t move physically, they will cause drama and problems that cut of ties from people who would support you.
They may control the finances in a multitude of ways as another means of isolation and abuse, possibly by preventing you from working and earning your own income or solely controlling the financial accounts. Other times, they may be the sole earner and you may have access to the accounts, but they may quit working if you are thinking about leaving and they want you to feel like the funds are now limited and there isn’t a steady source of income coming in, thus making you feel stuck.
The big one I want to talk about today is control of your means of communication. They may monitor and/or track your cell phone, have access to your social media accounts, or even go as far to want a “couples” social media account which leads to further isolation and abuse. I noticed this the other day in a support forum where someone had mentioned that their abuser had convinced them to share their Facebook account, thus cutting off her ability to privately access abuse support groups, and she had to create another account to be able to participate in the support groups without being discovered.
I hadn’t previously thought about “couples social media accounts” as a means of isolation or abuse, but it definitely can prevent an abused person from feeling secure to use that account to reach out for support. So I’m going to share some “technical support” ideas for how to secure your devices as a means of communication in a covert way that won’t arouse suspicion or entice more abuse.
For example, if you attempt to lock your abuser out of the device period, it may set them off causing further abuse. So if the abuser insists on having access to your device, there are other means to access support privately.
1. Don’t share social media accounts with your abuser. If they intimidate you and insist, then create a new account and set everything to private and only log into that account when you need to access support – otherwise keep it logged out and the “couples account” logged in, in case they check your device.
2. When you are utilizing Facebook messenger, there is an option for making a conversation private. Do not use the messenger for the shared account. Only access this account in messenger as needed and again, log it out and keep the “couples account” logged in otherwise.
3. When using your browser, use a private browser tab when accessing information in regards to abuse support in any capacity. Also, you can delete just the sites accessed in regards to abuse support without clearing your entire history and arousing suspicion.
4. If you think that your abuser has installed tracking software on your device, hard reset it. Go back to factory settings and start over. Another option is to use a free VPN (virtual private network) app on your phone, however, the factory reset is the best option to remove any spyware they may have installed.
5. Use an app such as snapchat and make sure it is set to delete messages as they are read as a means to connect with family and friends as well as other support persons. Create a new e-mail account for setting up covert accounts. Do not link it to your device directly, but use a private browser to login to that email – make sure to use a password you can remember and do not save it to your device. Use that email address when providing contact information for help.
6. If possible, depending on the financial situation, try to stash some cash a little at a time. Purchase a cheap burner phone with a cheap plan that will allow you to contact help. Keep it on silent mode at all times and put it in a secure location.
Isolation is a common tactic to make you feel alone and like you are stuck with no way out. But that is never true. There is always a way out, but the best means of leaving depends on your personal situation and being able to access outside support can help give you a clearer perspective on how to leave and where your support lies. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends that your abuser has isolated you from!
Your family and friends are your greatest allies, and may very well be waiting for you to reach out for help. It is your abuser’s manipulation that makes you feel like you don’t have anyone, but that is not reality. If you are in this situation, leaving is your best option.
If you feel stuck and need guidance with an escape plan and reaching out to support persons, please contact us and we will advocate on your behalf as well. Visit our resources page for locating shelters and national abuse hotline numbers, etc.