Control And Abandonment

One of the main ways a controller/abuser keeps a hold on their target is with threat of abandonment. This tack works well on children, and on adults who were neglected or abandoned at some point during childhood. It works because neglect and abandonment have actual life-threatening consequences, and once a child has experienced this, they are aware of how terrible the potential danger can be.

Controller/abusers use this fear when they find it. This is a bull's eye on the forehead of a potential target. All a controller has to do is to someone with abandonment trauma is turn a cold shoulder, deny normal attention, act as if spending time with the target is LAST on the "important priority" list. (People who love you move their schedules, move time and space itself, to make time with you; controllers act as if any rescheduling or re-prioritizing would be a burden on them, as if you are demanding too much. Going out of their way to see you or do things with you is what normal and healthy friends, family, and lovers do as a matter of course; controllers can't be bothered to "mess up their schedule". But they will expect you to do it for them when they "require" it, and will even blame you for the lack of time and fun together.) Refuse to communicate directly, act as if they can't be bothered, treat the target like a bothersome pest, treat the target like they don't measure up to the controller's standards. Treat the target like they aren't good enough to be allowed in the controller's "Club". The target's trauma kicks in with fear, and even if they are sick to death of this person's other behaviors, this fear can take over and they will be relieved when the controller pays attention to them once again, instead of angry or annoyed at the inconsiderate behavior. The target will often catch themselves doing things to "win" the controller back, and feel shame for their "weakness", not realizing it is a trigger response to trauma, exactly like automatically trying to catch one's self from falling from a high place. This is the cycle, however; the controller is counting on their target's self-blame and loss of self-esteem. The more they use this abandonment tactic, the more it works.

Those with this trauma are aware that people who abandon or neglect also easily break bonds, or don't make real ones in the first place. If they care about or love the controller, they will fear betrayal at the first sign of abandonment/neglect behavior. They know it is probably imminent, and the pain of betrayal on top of abandonment can be almost too much to bear. So, they try to make the controller WANT to stay with them, WANT to BOND with them. This is still a trigger response to fear; it's not relationship-building. Which is what the controller wants; relationship-building is not what they have in mind anyway.

People without this trauma behave in all kinds of ways to ensure their acceptance in their crowd, mimicking everything from acceptable hairstyles and clothing to speech patterns, body language and political rhetoric, but they are not usually aware of their own instinct compulsion to fit in. A lot of people who consider themselves "non-conformists" are still within the acceptable limits of whatever group they identify with.

However people who HAVE been traumatized by abandonment in their childhood have a greater awareness, at least subconsciously, of just how dangerous it actually is to be left out in the cold, to not be accepted as one of the group, and how quickly that often leads to denial of basic human needs. Human beings ostracize and abandon much more easily and quickly than most people are willing to accept, and only those who have been on the receiving end know just how easily and quickly and how dangerous it can be. Even those who were not abandoned purposely can still have this trauma and awareness. If one parent does not know that the other is neglecting or abusing, he or she does not know to step in, but the child will often still feel abandoned by both. There are entire families who neglect and abandon the children among their ranks whom they do not accept as "one of them", for various dysfunctional reasons, so even if a child has one person who is truly caring, they are still experiencing the abandonment from the rest of the family.

Controllers can see this, can sense this, and will use it if they can. It's one of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal.

Curing one's fear of abandonment can take a lot of difficult work, and any controllers around will try to ruin the effort and progress.

Seeking out people and places who are objectively supportive, who have no personal agenda, can be extremely helpful in unraveling this fear. A good therapist, the rare trustworthy friend, online support groups can help.

A few links: