“It often starts in a very insidious way,” said Patricia Pape, a psychologist in private practice in New York. “He says, ‘Don’t put Sweet-and-Low in your coffee, it’s poisonous.’
“Then, ‘When you wear that nail polish, it makes you look like a fallen woman,’ and ‘That skirt is too short, it’s too revealing.’ Or, ‘I don’t think you should see her, she’s not good for you.’
“You wind up in a situation where he’s telling you what to wear, what to eat, who you can see, how to behave.”
Each small adjustment made by the victim reinforces this control, Dr. Pape said.
One of her patients had a husband who, when the couple was out at a public event, would insist she not look around at the crowd, as he felt it could be seen as flirtatious. “It came to point that when she walked around, she would look down,” Dr. Pape said. “It changed how she walked.”