I tivo episodes of Oprah to watch while I am on the treadmill. Last night, I watched a particularly interesting (and frightening) episode about domestic violence and abuse. The expert, Gavin de Becker, wrote a book (The Gift of Fear) over ten years ago and it is still used today for risk management and assessment. One of the most important skills de Becker emphasizes is our own intuition. If your gut tells you something isn’t quite right, then it probably isn’t. We tend to ignore our gut reactions, our intuition, because we don’t want to seem like a hypochondriac. However, it is this intuition that is often the denominator that survivors have in common. Another key factor is our ability to recognize and predict dangerous behavior. If the person you are with is controlling, that is a major red flag warning sign. Gavin made two very important points.

1. Anyone who doesn’t take “No” for an answer and continues to be persistent is abusing you, emotionally.

2. When a man says no it is the end of the conversation. When a woman says no it is the beginning of a negotiation.

These warning signs are not necessarily sexual in nature. They can be found in all aspects of your relationship. If you don’t feel like doing something or going somewhere and say “No,” some men will take that as the beginning of a negotiation process. They feel they can wear you down and ultimately “win.” This is never a sign of a healthy relationship. There should be no delineation between winners and losers in a strong and healthy relationship. Oftentimes women feel that if a man is controlling or persistent, it just means he loves her. This is not a sign of love, it is abuse.

The concept of control extends beyond romantic relationships into friendships, family relations and professional dynamics. It is something to be recognizes at the first warning signs and dealt with immediately.

Have you ever been in a controlling relationship? When did you first recognize the controlling behavior? What did you do to rectify the situation?

The Gift of Fear

I was going to post all about the topic of today’s Oprah show, “HOW FEAR CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE.” It was about listening to our intuition and trusting our gut in the face of fear and how it could possibly save our lives. If you feel nervous walking down a dark street, turn around and go somewhere bright and filled with people. If the elevator door open and someone suspicious-looking stands alone in the elevator, don’t feel bad saying, “I’ll wait for the next one.” The purpose of this episode was to point out various ways in which intuition has saved lives, but the unfortunate aspect of this show is that it was fear building. I’m already a bit of a baby when it comes to scary situations and I may have seen one too many scary movies for my own mental well-being. So really this show just reinforced my own perpetual fears. I actually had to turn it off after about 25 minutes because I found myself locking doors and looking over my shoulder, repeatedly.

One point that was made with regards to unhealthy relationships and warning signs to look out for was the aspect of controlling men. Gavin de Becker made a good point when speaking with a woman who was in an abusive relationship but unaware of it for a long time leading up to danger. He said, “anytime someone doesn’t hear ‘No’ it means they are trying to control you.” He then followed up with a point that struck a chord with the audience because they were audibly roused by his statement, “When a man says ‘No’ it’s the end of a discussion, when a woman says ‘No’ it’s the beginning of a negotiation.” Hearing the audience rise up with this statement made me very aware that women across the country have all experienced some sort of a controlling aspect to relationships. Why is it so common? Why do some men feel the need to control? Oprah immediately instilled a sense of power to her audience by making a fantastic statement to combat those stuck in controlling relationships. “Sometimes saying ‘No’ to someone else means you are saying ‘YES’ to yourself!”

I don’t want to live in fear, but maybe it is a good idea to listen to your gut, follow your intuition and ere on the side of caution. It is also important to be the only person in control of your life. You are in the driver’s seat and you shouldn’t relinquish the keys to ANYONE!