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Say no to abuse

Why do people stay in abusive relationships? What are the warning signals that it is time to walk away? How many chances do you give a partner, or a government, to hurt you?

Psychological abuse occurs when a person in the relationship tries to control information available to another person with intent to manipulate that person’s sense of reality or their view of what is acceptable and unacceptable.

It seems to me that is exactly what our government is doing with regard to asylum seekers.

Psychological abuse often contains strong emotionally manipulative content and threats designed to force the victim to comply with the abuser’s wishes.

Like when Scott Morrison got children on Christmas Island to ring Ricky Muir begging to be released with Morrison stating he would keep them locked up unless Muir voted for TPVs. (Or when Christopher Pyne threatened to cut research funding unless they agreed to deregulation of university fees.)

The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

By dehumanising asylum seekers, calling them illegal, and locking them up with no hope of resettlement, our government is unquestionably guilty of abuse.

A more sophisticated form of psychological abuse is often referred to as “gaslighting.” This happens when false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

Example 1

TONY ABBOTT: “As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Alan Tudge, St Andrew’s Christian College, 2 August 2013

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you will get exactly the same amount of funding for your school.” -2 August 2013

TONY ABBOTT: “We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made or the promise that some people might have liked us to make.” –Ten Network, The Bolt Report, 1 December 2013

Example 2

When Malcolm Turnbull announced the ABC’s budget would be reduced by $254 million and SBS’s operating budget would be reduced by $25.2 million over the next five years despite Abbott promising very explicitly that there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS, Mathias Cormann told us these were not cuts, they were “efficiency dividends”.

“The Prime Minister absolutely told the truth. We are not making cuts, we’re making sure that what happens to the ABC happens with every other taxpayer-funded organisation across Government, and that’s that it operates as efficiently as possible, and that is our responsibility. We need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is treated with respect.”

Abusers at times “throw you a bone” as if it should erase all of the bad treatment. This is part of the dynamic and cycle of abuse.

Hockey’s second budget is supposed to make us forget about his first. Promises of income tax cuts are supposed to make us ignore the impost of a higher GST. Before every election, football fields in marginal seats will be promised an upgrade to make us forget about all the government services that have been cut.

Abusers are expert manipulators with a knack for getting you to believe that the way you are being treated is your fault. Abusers can convince you that you do not deserve better treatment or that they are treating you this way to “help” you.

The demonization of people on welfare, calling them leaners and rorters, suggesting people just need to get a better job if they want to buy a house, describing remote Indigenous communities as lifestyle choices that we can’t afford, imposing income management – all of these are designed to suggest people being poor or unemployed is their own fault.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb.

Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone.

This is what so many people in Australia are currently feeling. It is inconceivable that one in six Australian children are living in poverty. Thirty per cent of Australians who receive social security payments live below the poverty line, including 55 per cent of those on unemployment benefits. Fifteen per cent of aged pensioners live in poverty.

Women are slightly more likely to live in poverty than men while single parents, people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are significantly more likely to live in poverty.

Yet we see assistance to these people being whittled away while the government focuses on protecting their mistress, big business.

The following is a list of 30 signs of emotional abuse. As I read through them, I could not get the image of Question Time in the House of Representatives out of my mind. Aside from number 27, which Tony has said should be “moderated”, it pretty much describes our government and particularly our Prime Minister.

  1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
  2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
  3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
  4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
  5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
  6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.
  7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
  9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
  10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
  11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
  12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
  13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
  14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
  15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
  16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
  17. They repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
  18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
  19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
  20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
  21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
  22. They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
  23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
  24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
  25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
  26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
  27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
  28. They share personal information about you with others.
  29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
  30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.

It is past time that our politicians recognized that their dysfunctional behaviour is not only unproductive, it amounts to psychological and emotional abuse. Not only does it set a poor example, it has caused the vast majority of Australians to walk away from the abuse, no longer able to trust those who are supposed to be protecting our interests.


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  1. gangey1959

    Very interesting article Kaye Lee.
    So does ta have a bald patch, or is he just a solar powered moron? ( Yeah, yeah, I know, he defunded renewables before they connected him.)
    And am I allowed to tell him that without being called a bully and abusive too ?

  2. Kaye Lee

    “Lawyers working for the trade union royal commission personally gave union whistleblower-turned-fraudster Kathy Jackson detailed advance knowledge of the issues to be covered during her appearances at the inquiry, including tips on the topics to prepare and suggestions that she use her time on the stand to tackle media critics.”

    “The astonishing accommodation accorded to Ms Jackson by commission lawyers as they prepared to question her on matters that went to her alleged misappropriation of $250,000 of union member’s money stands in sharp contrast to others in the union movement, and in particular to a prominent target, the Opposition Leader.”

    “In Mr Shorten’s case, there was no personal guidance provided of any kind on how to handle his examination. Six days before the hearing, on Friday, July 3, the commission made available almost 2000 pages of documents to him.”

  3. stephentardrew

    Brilliant article Kaye:

    It is funny how your list of abuse items perfectly fit the narcissistic and compulsive liar.

    It is essential to continue to question Abbott’s mental health simply because all the indicators of a truly dysfunctional mind are present in his attitudes and behaviours.

    In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy you actions actually tell more than your personal narrative. This governments actions are glaringly immoral indicative of a rush to redistribute wealth from the poor to the privileged and complete indifference to suffering caused by your policies. The fact that much of the narrative is demonstrable lies indicates there is little direct contact with reality, empirical proof, logic and rationality whereas conversely there is immersion in a dystopian and dysfunctional narrative that is ideologically driven and absolutely contradictory to the claims and the physical facts.

    Conservative long ago lost connection between cognition and reality and that is why they rely upon ideological mumbo jumbo to justify illogical and irrational contradictions and lies.

    You cannot trust a government of bare faced liars and the fact that the media do not call them out makes them complicit in the lies.

    What a dangerous hell hole of greed and immorality we have gotten into.

  4. susan

    At the very least, the whole front LNP bench fits these abuse guidelines.

  5. Mark Needham

    From #1 to #30.
    There is no hint of any “Home Hits” Hey!

    Please deny that any of these 30 signs of emotional abuse, are never used by the good people on this website. That writing contributors of AIM Network, wouldn’t have been a tad guilty.

    I am thinking hypocrasy, but I can’t even spell the word, so I won’t.
    Kaye Lee, you have done better.
    Mark Needham

  6. Roswell

    I would hardly think our dear leader is a good role model.

  7. Roswell

    Mark, I disagree. Kaye’s work is outstanding. Always. She continues to bring ideas to the table that the mainstream media overlooks.

  8. Kaye Lee

    As Kerry O’Brien pointed out to Tony Abbott, we are not all the Prime Minister of Australia. And I would suggest that our behaviour at work would be vastly better than that of our politicians. At my work, we must have certain qualifications, we face regular rigorous accreditation checks, our paperwork must be meticulous, we must engage in ongoing education, and if I yelled at the staff and called them names and sneered at them I would find myself in court. We must be truthful and accountable.

    I think I could give an example from the government for every one of those 30 points Mark but the article would have stretched to volumes. I also like to hear what other people have to say. Pick a number, any number, and I will give you an example.

  9. jim

    Since the 25/09/13 Trabbitt has issued an edict on all media which MUST be approved by his office by a mrs walshe from rabbitt office. Abuse leads to suicide in some cases,. Australia has the 3rd highest rate of the richest 67 countries in 2,001 there were 2,454 suicide deaths, the road toll that year was 1,736 deaths. Australia’s depression rate is the TWICE the rate of he UK, But you right wing red necks are above all this just ask GOD eh, FIGJAM, Right-wing governments may sap some people’s will to live and result in more suicides, conclude studies in Britain and Australia. The researchers speculate that losers are more likely to kill themselves in the individualistic, “winner-takes-all” societies favoured by right wing governments, because they are left to fend for themselves. Wide disparities in wealth also sharpen any sense of hopelessness, the researchers argue. NB Unhappy Birthday rabbitt.

  10. lizzieconnor

    And the problem is that, like so many abused women, many voters will stay with the abuser, rather than leave him, for fear of something they think could be worse.

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