Intimate Terrorism: When Is It OK?


INTIMATE TERRORISM is the use of physical/emotional abuse plus a broad range of tactics designed to get and keep control over the other person in a relationship.

It’s a term chef Nigella Lawson used to describe her estranged husband Charles Saatchi.

The other day I watched a program in which this woman admitted to being an intimate terrorist towards her husband. She openly, and surprisingly rather nonchalantly, described arguing with her husband, insulting him, belittling him, throwing stuff at him… in an effort – she said – to get him to step up to the plate.

In her mind, she has a perfectly valid excuse that justifies her behavior:

She has four children, a full time job, and she also runs the household. Her husband also works, but won’t help out with the rest.

As a result of this, she gets stressed out and frustrated, and takes it out on him.

According to her, marriage is tough, and many married couples behave like she does behind closed doors…

As a married woman, I agree with her that marriage is tough sometimes, and that it takes a lot of work to keep two people happy, let alone six.

But under no circumstances would I treat my husband like she treats hers. In fact, I was embarrassed and sickened to hear relate her story like it was no big deal.

There is no excuse for that kind of behavior,  whether it comes from a woman or a man.

If you love someone you simply do not treat them like that.

But then again, when this woman was asked why she is still married to a man she abuses, her answer was “because we have four kids, and we got married for life”, instead of “because I love him”, which really says it all.

Excessive jealousy, controlling behavior, abusive behavior – be it physical or emotional – is NEVER acceptable.

Having been the recipient of emotional abuse in the past, I couldn’t help but write about this subject.

Personally, I consider intimate terrorism any behavior that sabotages your partner’s happiness, independence and growth within the relationship.

Preventing your partner from going out with his/her friends or doing things that make them happy. Checking your partner’s phone, emails or social media accounts. Nagging or forcing your partner to do things they don’t want to do. Making them feel bad, guilty or embarrassed. Comparing them to other men/women. Calling them names, insulting them, belittling them, hitting them…

Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re the recipient of intimate terrorism, I urge you to get out of that “relationship” asap. If you’re the intimate terrorist, please know that you can get help and you can get better. You can build your self-confidence and get to experience what true unconditional love really feels like.

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