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The Freedom Program was devised and written by Pat Craven, who worked as a Probation Officer to help survivors of domestic abuse understand and process their experiences. She combines much of this in her book Living With The Dominator. 'The Dominator' was inspired by the Duluth Domestic Violence Intervention Project in Minnesota. Pat Craven describes the abuser or Dominator as one person who changes through various characters as they exhibit different forms of control. 'The Friend' is described in opposition to the Dominator.

The Dominator

The Bully

Intimidation is the name of the game for the Bully. They use anger as a tactic to get you to try to pacify them or please them. They might shout, glare or sulk at you, even if they're not actually angry and you have no idea what you’ve done wrong. They might ask a string of questions without giving you a chance to answer. They may try and frighten you with aggressive or dangerous driving, by breaking objects or throwing things at you. This is all designed to make you feel on edge and intimidated.

The Headworker

They employ emotional abuse to make you lose confidence in yourself. Gaslighting is used to make you question your perception of reality; it might look like questioning your memory or suggesting you're overreacting. You might be made to feel stupid and ugly. Your competence in any areas of your life might be called into question. You might be belittled in public – only to be told they were 'just joking'.

The Jailer

This Jailer isolates you from friends and family so that you become dependent on them. They might lie and tell you that a certain friend has said something nasty about you so that you don’t want to see them. This is closely linked with The Headworker, but the end result is that is isolation. Alternatively, they might be difficult and unpleasant whilst friends are visiting you, embarrassing you and your friends so that the visit doesn't happen again. You might even be persuaded to move to a new area where you don’t have a support network of friends or family.

The Liar

You simply can't believe anything they say; they lie about anything and everything. They minimise abuse by using words like ‘only’, e.g. ‘it was only a slap’. They deny reality, including that they are abusing you, and they make everything your fault. They fall back on excuses, and you may well believe them or even feel sorry for them.

The Bad Father

They use the children to control you and will try to turn the children against you. They'll say you're the bad parent. All the parenting boundaries that you try to put in place will be ignored. Alternatively, they might use the children as pawns in their games against you, threatening the children's safety if you don't do what they want. If you don’t have children pets might be substituted for the children in this persona.

King of the Castle

The King insists on controlling every aspect of the household one way or another. This can be the housework, laundry, etc but also the finances and decision making. You could be treated like the household help, you do everything in the house and they do nothing to help. You are only good for cleaning and cooking. Alternatively, they might take over everything themselves saying that you don't do anything properly. Either way, it’s their kingdom, not yours. You are NOT in a partnership.

The Sexual Controller

Sex is used as a weapon. It might be forced on you (rape) or withheld as a punishment.

The Persuader

The Persauder often appears when you stand up for yourself or threaten to leave. They will try to entice you back into the relationship, to let them see the children or not to report them to the police. Coercion or threats can be used to persuade or scare you to do what they want. It can look very different and they may try everything: crying, promising to change, threatening your life or the life of those you love or threatening suicide.

Support for survivors

If you're a survivor of domestic abuse, we're here to support you. Through resources like our Survivor's Handbook, and our online community of female Christian survivors of domestic abuse, we'll walk with you on your journey to recovery.

Find out more