Let me tell you a story about a young boy and a girl. This young woman had no problem to tell anyone if they had over stepped a boundary. She knew her mind and she wasn’t afraid to say ‘No’.
This young woman was beautiful, talented and bright.
The young man was rather taken with her as he watched her rescuing some frogs and although he thought this pastime of hers was rather odd it gave him an idea – an experiment to try.
On his way home he caught two frogs from a nearby pond. He placed two pots on the stove, one with cool water and another which had already boiled. He threw a frog into each pan. The first frog landed into the boiling water and jumped out immediately, but the second frog stayed in its pan.
The young man carefully and gradually turned the temperature up and up and he noticed that the frog in the warming water barely moved.
He noticed that when the water was at boiling point, the frog stayed in the pan even though there was no lid on it. The frog could escape and hop out of the pan at any time but . . . it did not, even while it was being cooked alive. It didn’t seem to realise what was happening to it at all.
The boy started to think and wonder about the girl, he saw a scenario playing in his head. There was not much he needed to do to befriend her, he saw himself finding one or two things that she liked and he drew her to him.
Although he had no intention of caring, of being there or being a genuine friend to her. He could pretend he was smitten, that he wanted her and needed her. He would tell her that she was all he had and beg her not to leave, even when he behaved very badly indeed.
If he could not convince her that he was something she needed, or that he was truly sorry, why he could simply supply endless reasons why she should worry!
No one knew her like he did, no one cared for her like he did, no one loved her like he did.
Forgetting herself, and where her edges started, she was no longer standing tall. She would come to believe she wanted, loved and needed to be with him, and unsure if they had an end at all?
His temper would grow as the tension would grow and she began to realise that nothing she could do would fit the shape he would need, she just had to walk on the eggshells in between.
She would go back and forth with the little voice in her mind, she would ask to be treated better and occasionally find the courage to leave, but he had got so upset, he’d bruise and hit her.
Then, once he had pulled her to her knees he would pretend to be sorry and tell her he loved her, he was her friend and that this would never happen again, but it always did, again and again, and again.
These lies would be easy for others to see. In time though, she would believe them to be true and the little voice in her head would become quieter and quieter until it would eventually become silent.
It would no longer say ‘Jump, Jump little froggy, there’s no roof in your way, jump out!’
This scenario made the boy realise exactly what he would do. The next day after school he approached her ‘Hey, I have a surprise for you’ he said handing her a shoe box. She lifted it from him and peeked inside. Two little green frogs with bright pink bows on and the softest brown eyes stared up at her ‘Oh thank you’; she said ‘how did you know?’
He smiled as he knew she was caught, and just like that, off she set, down the treacherous path with her two little frogs, hand in hand with the Toad Prince!
I’m sorry that this story didn’t go the way you’d hoped, I could talk and tell all sorts of things about abuse that you probably wouldn’t want to believe, you’d probably ask why would anyone stay and choose to be treated this way?
Sun Tzu wrote in his book ‘The Art of War’ ‘Subdue the enemy without fighting’ – this is the best way I can think of describing coercive control in domestic abuse.
The act of convincing someone that there is no threat, that no harm will come to them, that they are safe, and they are loved and accepted whilst raging war in their heads and pretending to be their friend all the while.
Though most of us would probably not care to admit it, we are all a little more like the young woman with her little frogs than we’d like to think.
Would you have had the good sense to jump out of the pan unless the water was boiling when you were thrown in?