You pose a great question and one that many ask, including myself when you want to know why a person would want to destroy someone's self respect and self worth. However, what we have learned about people who fall into this abuse pattern is that they are not concentrating so much on you as on on their own fears. so the goal is not so much to destroy your self-respect as to give them control over you..by putting you down, they get a false sense of power (well its not so much false when they "win"). We give them our power.
So the abuser is not saying, "Hey I'm going to destroy your self worth," they are actually saying, "I am in charge, you are nothing, you need me to function, I am worth more then you so bend to my will."
In addition you make a good point, "For example, it would take more work to invite someone to share your religion than it would to simply forbid the target from practicing the religion of her own choosing." Yet, it takes a lot of energy to continually hold someone down. They have to constantly watch and monitor and ferret out "misdeeds" of their target. That takes energy. But they are so afraid that you will be independent, whole, not needing them...a partnership and mutual respect is something they fear they cannot hold up to. So they belittle you, take control, smash your self worth--and they do this to the degree that you let them. Some partners do it because they can--others have such deep seated problems they cannot stop no matter what.
In the case of the partners (both men and women) who do it because their target has trained them to and allowed them to abuse them, those people can often change once the target puts a stop to it. To the abusers who have the deep seated problems--they need a lot more help and will often leave the target once the target no longer allows it.
You are a Target-Respect-Me R.U.L.E.S-Workshop: "This workshop is your introduction to the Miracle Principle and a new way of thinking about abuse
It is such a simple idea that it escapes even some very wise counselors in the the domestic abuse arena. Learn all about the Miracle Principle and why you never have to be verbally, mentally, financially, sexually, or emotionally abused again. Stopping domestic abuse really is in your hands."
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