07 April 2007

Diminished Options

In The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger defines danger as a loss of options. The fewer options you have in a given situation, the greater your potential danger; your risk from fire may be greater in a windowless room with only one door than in a room with several doors and windows and at least one fire exit.

In other words, the more entrapped you are, the more vulnerable you are.

Abusive people have very few options - they generally have only one way to relate to others; that is, by controlling them. It's no wonder that they tend to be compulsive about limiting other people's options. And if you are one of those 'other people', it won't take long for you to see that the more your options are limited by them, the more they endanger your wellbeing, directly or indirectly.

The classic pattern of domestic violence, seen in this context, is very much a limiting of options. Friends are driven away. Family is deliberately estranged. Employment may be forbidden. The use of the car, of the cell phone, of family funds is monitored continuously.

Options diminish, and as they diminish, escape routes disappear and danger escalates. Until circumstances are such that almost any negative event - a job loss, a financial setback, even a rude driver on the Interstate - can trigger a 'perfect storm'.

Watch your options. Keep track of the escape routes. Beware of traps.

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