Some people find that each relationship which they become involved in, in time, starts to alter and become a suppressive relationship which is not best servicing their needs. They do not know what causes this to happen each time or whether they are attracting a certain type of person to themselves. They think it is their fault.

There appear to be 3 types of suppressive relationships. a Long term family based suppressive relationships. b Work based suppressive relationships. This may involve bullying etc. c Relationship type suppressive relationships.

Some people find themselves in one of these types of relationships with another party for the first time ever. Others find it keeps happening with each relationship they get into.

A person in a suppressive situation has two options: to stay and get on top of it or to go. The support group seeks to support as the person pursues either option.

Our next monthly meetings for the newly formed Suppressive Relationships Support Group meets in xxxx once per month and you are welcome to attend.

Ring David on 8214 8397 for meeting times.



Announcer: I am talking to David Murphy who has started up a support group for people in suppressive relationships. David welcome to the Woman and Life program.

D:Thank you.

A: David, firstly can you just define for us what a suppressive relationship is?

A suppressive relationship is best described as a relationship which is controlled which is subject to a degree of control by one party or another. That control is to curb the behaviour of one person, to control, to restrain them, to keep them, to hold on to them because the person who is doing the controlling is in some way vulnerable. But that vulnerability is not apparent to the person who is being controlled who is instilled with a feeling of perhaps guilt but it is a relationship which has probably ceased to be a relationship but now has more of the elements of a game (or a battle or a trap) than a relationship.

A: And what to do you mean by a game?

Well in a game you have rules and you have points and you have players and you have winners and you have losers and you have strategies (and boundaries and plays and scoring and sides).

A: It's not really what a relationship is about, is it?

It's not what a relationship is supposed to be but they start off as a nice relationship, may be a very nice relationship but over many years it degenerates into something else and it is not serving the one who is suppressed.

A: I'm just thinking too about domestic violence and normally we see domestic violence as being physical abuse but it is not just physical abuse but it is also emotional and mental abuse and I think that's harder to detect that that is actually abuse when it is not just physical abuse because you're not just talking about a relationship when it's physical abuse but a relationship which is controlled which of course is a form of abuse.

Yes, we're not talking about relationships which are more oppressive where we have physical abuse but suppressive where the smart ones don't need to resort to physical abuse because they have other means of control, mental control where physical abuse is not necessary to do that and this is a condition which can arise just as a person slowly is going deaf or blind takes many many years and they don't notice it and they think it is normal until somebody points things out to them. A person in a suppressive relationship which may develop over 5 or 10 years doesn't see how it has changed and degraded from day one or why, but they may think it's their fault.

A: Why is it that people do not see it as a suppressive relationship? Is it because it's something that's happened gradually and has become a controlling relationship or a suppressive relationship?

Our observation is that these people tend to be a bit more isolated and perhaps because of the relationship being a suppressive relationship they become a more isolated person as a means they lose control and sinbce they don't compare notes with other people as much then they don't have anything much else to compare with because they are not out there socializing all the time where it would be shown to them, hey your relationship is weird.

A: Going on to that topic of isolates, what do you consider an isolate?

An isolate is a loner, a person who stays on their own, a person who doesn't get out and mix, doesn't socialize, isn't gregarious, is a quiet sort of loner and these people can be vulnerable to a person who is seeking someone to suppress, to have someone in their lives who they can control and have somebody in a certain place in their lives.

A: Because the problem of an isolate is that their whole world in centred around their partner and therefore they are not able to gauge whether what their partner is doing is right or wrong because they live their life by this one person and also their dependency is on that one person, that can be very dangerous.

The art of a suppressor is to increase the dependency upon that person either financially, emotionally or because that person who is suppressing has something to offer which the other person really needs, or which they believe they need, which they have come to believe they are not going to find somewhere else which means to people having a poor self image means they are not going to meet anyone else which can be completely the wrong position to be in.

A: For someone who is listening and is not really sure if they are in a suppressive relationship what can they use to measure, to determine whether they are in a suppressive relationship?

A good yardstick is to measure the change in the relationship from day one, how it was in the original courting period when things were starting and is it like that or has it now ceased to become rainbows every day and heaven on earth and utter bliss or whatever it was that was very attractive at first and they find that the relationship has changed and it is not like it used to be and maybe they think that it's their fault but they think their relationship has gone a long way and they may recognize the elements of the game in there, that it's not a forgiving type of relationship where we work together and do whatever we have to do and plan together etc which seems to have ceased and now it's become something where I've got to keep the peace or not put a thing wrong or something, because there are these unspoken rules.

A: And it's the unspoken rules which are the harder ones to break aren't they.

The unspoken rules are the ones which you break whenever the suppressor seeks to pull that upon you as a means of control, they are there to be broken but none of them are real.

A: But they are real to the person who is being suppressed because he or she unconsciously or subconsciously knows that without the suppressor having said this is the way we are to do things he or she, the person being suppressed knows that if I don't do that that there's consequences or that there is a guilt trip that is going to go on or something like that because that is a form of control as well.

That is a form of control and there will be consequences, we are not talking about physical consequences, but there are other sorts of consequences which can be far worse.

A: Why do you think that some people who go from one suppressive relationship, like once they've recognized I am in a relationship that's controlling me, I don't feel free anymore, I can't be myself, I am not me, I have to get out of this so they do that and then they find themselves repeating exactly the same patterns in another relationship?

Well, there's a few things which may be happening here. There are people who continually attract the sort of person who will be suppressing because they see that as showing care and interest and this person shows their emotions so they attract this sort of person whereas nice guys or nice women they regard as wimps and they don't register in their field of vision. They just don't pick up that these people might be possibly be attractive because they're not like an image in their mind that may have been put there from childhood when they had a father who acted in this way towards the mother and this is what they regard as normal and attracts them and presses their buttons. The person may also find themselves in a suppressive relationship for the first time ever which may mean they don't attract these things but they have suddenly struck these people because previous relationships have been fine and they've not had these experiences and they find themselves in one of them for the first time ever so that person may not be the sort of person who is continually attracting those sorts of people. Then there are the ones who create those relationships where they create that sort of environment because it gives them a feeling of security and those people need some assistance as well too and people have got to come to the point where they are ready and realize there is an issue and they need to do something and there are generally two options which people have got.

A: And what are they?

Stay or go. That's the choice.

A: David, that sounds easy but as we know from statistics that is not as easy as it sounds.

A: But they're the choices. They either stay or they go, to go is not easy.

That is what I am saying when it is time to go it is easier said than done.

A: How to do people who have recognized that they are in a suppressive relationship and want to get out. What do you suggest are the first steps that they take?

Start preparing. Start planning, start preparing (with enough planning and preparing action comes easy) start working out where you are going to go, what you are going to do, if it's a different place to go look around, look around, try loking at places and prices and rents or whatever, just look around to see what's out there, just preparing the ground. It's like a person who is going to cross the river, they need to find where the stepping stones are because nobody is going to step out into the river when you don't know where or can't see the stepping stones, so you have to find them, they are there so you look around, you talk to people, look at groups where you can go to socialize, meet new people, make new friends and start again and start to back out. It's like being up a in dead end road, there comes a time where the only thing is to back out and get back onto the main highway of life and start again from where you were.

A: Of course up until now we have been talking about relationships in terms of a man and a woman. You can have other relationships which are suppressive as well in terms of your family, with your work colleagues which is a place where you see some sort of suppression going on in those situations sometimes it is not as easy to get up and walk out of your job. They say you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family.

No, if you've got problems with your family then that is a difficult long term ingrained one where the suppression is something you have always grown up with. That's a difficult one, that's the hardest of all of them.

A: Yeah, it think at it's about looking into yourself. I think it really boils down to low self esteem when we're allowing other people to control our lives or to suppress us.

Yes it is low self esteem and a reason for the low self esteem where there hasn't been low self esteem once before is what I say you have been sold a con, you have been sold an image of yourself by someone who has something to gain in you holding that particular image, so that they don't lose you, you'll stay in your place, they need you in their life, they are vulnerable, their fear of loss is great so they will do whatever they have to do, the love may have gone so now they have other techniques to have you there. We find these people with low self esteem are wonderful lovely people, really nice, these isolates are really nice people, generally, they are very nice people, they have been sold this and hit themselves with guilt but they are very very nice people when they start to come out of it.

A: But they might be too nice,

But they are attracting it upon themselves, but it doesn't mean that they deserve it, they deserve better, they deserve the best.

A: What I mean by too nice, is that they are too compliant. Too nice generally is that they are too compliant. They want to agree with everybody and say yes all the time, not feeling that they have a right to choose their own choices and make their own choices or disagree with other people.

These people deserve much better. In fact the person who is really nice and friendly and accommodating deserves to be in a very good relationship and there are other potential partners out there who would kill to find someone who is that nice and that good.

A: With your support group do you get people to focus upon themselves. In order to build up self esteem and to break out of the cycle that they have been in?

The support group is in it's early days at the moment, we are just having our initial meetings and have our first people starting to come on board. We have a number of techniques. We want people to decide are you going to stay or go. If you are going to stay the support group is there to assist you to learn to be more in control of this relationship and if it has become more of a game either to break the game or if you are going to put up with the game to win the game because the person you are with is actually vulnerable. The other alternative is that if you are going to go then start preparing to help build up the resilience they will need to actually eventually make that move and leave which may be a very powerful thing in bringing the relationship back to rights in some cases too.

A: I just want to talk a little more about your support group. What are the sort of people who are coming along to your support group?

The sort of people who are approaching us are people who think they are in a suppressive relationship or are in a suppressive relationship and the relationship could be a work based one where they are vulnerable or a family based one or a relationship based one or even with friends but who knows why one would keep those friends unless you were getting a payoff of some reason but we are getting people who feel that there is an issue there and need to talk to somebody or would like to talk to somebody realizing maybe I am in a suppressive relationship. They are starting to wake up, they are starting to go through the awakening process, and think now maybe I do have a problem or they may have been in this problem for a long time and we have had these ones too where it has been going for years and their lives has become a living hell and they don't know anyway out of it and their friends don't understand it or they don't understand how they got themselves into this predicament with a manipulative person in their lives who's got themselves into that position so they need somewhere to go, to start to talk and come along regularly to build up the resilience and the strength of character to be able to finally toss the whole silly situation and replace it with a new situation or be on their own for a while or find the relationship which they want or whatever.

There is always a better relationship, it just takes twice as long to find it each time and you are going to find it if you go somewhere where where there are heaps of people to meet and there are better ones to be found.

A: But I think the problem is, especially in this woman's case, she didn't think she could find anybody else and that's again a sense of low self esteem that there is no one else out there, no hope, no sort of vision for her life, thinking this is it, this is the only person who is going to love me.

Yes it was her first relationship in 15 years and she said she had no self esteem whatsoever and of course she did not want to lose this relationship, but then you can't blame her if the person is in love, they don't want to lose that relationship.

A: The thing with love is that in love two people have to be equally giving and eventually if it doesn't work that way eventually you will lose love. It takes time, it might take years, it might take months but eventually if the other person isn't inputting into you you will lose it and you eventually will walk out.

That's right. Love can fade and women grow through men, women go through changes in their late 20's where they tend to grow out of the man they were originally with because men may stay rigid or don't grow personally as women do so a woman needs to grow through a succession of men in personal growth. She should not necessarily stay with the same one if there is no growth and nothing is happening. It's time to move on and look for the next one on the horizon who's going to be her next one that she can move and grow through but men should do the same but they are a bit more rigid it seems.

A: Just finally who can people ring if they are interested in attending the support group? I'll give you the phone number so you can write it down as people may know a friend who might be interested or involved in one of these and should do something about it. They may need a bit of assistance or change of environment to do so. Our number is Sydney (612) 8214 8397 and the web address is

Sometimes to get out of a suppressive relationship it helps to get a social life and make new friends. Visit and investigate the Events website to find out what's on and go on the free what’s coming up email list.

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You are welcome to talk to me about what you have read at either of these sites at an event.