Don’t Plant Your Seeds: Chapter Four, Isolation

Before we dive into the next chapter of my book, Don’t Plant Your Seeds Among Thorns: A Catholic Guide to Domestic Abuse, I want to give a huge shout-out — filled with tremendous thanksgiving and gratitude — for the immense response to my book. In just the short time that it’s been incrementally released, I’ve been awarded the “Substack Bestseller” status due to the large increase in readers. Each subscriber helps me continue my ministry, so I’m truly grateful to all.

I had no idea the response to my book would be so huge, yet it does speak to a lack in our Catholic culture, as I’m hearing so often from my clients, DV support group participants, and readers. So many groups, parishes and organizations in our Catholic community don’t want to touch the topic of intimate partner aggression, because it’s “too controversial.” Yet in reality, domestic abuse—even in Catholic marriages—is a sad fact. The most recent statistics report that about one-third of relationships are abusive—and this includes Catholic marriages. Even more so, with Catholic marriages, spiritual abuse is often at play. This isn’t a topic we should avoid as if it doesn’t exist. It’s one we need to face, head-on.

So again, thank you one and all! I’m filled with gratitude that, in whatever small way, I can help clarify the issues of intimate partner violence and what the Catholic Church teaches on abuse, personal dignity, mutual self-giving in relationships, and all aspects of healing and renewal.

With that said, let’s get on with it! In chapter four of Don’t Plant Your Seeds, I cover the sad yet necessary topic of isolation.

“Although it is often largely unconscious, abusive men are aware on some level that a woman’s social contacts can bring her strength and support that could ultimately enable her to escape his control. An abusive man commonly attempts to keep his partner dependent on him to increase his power.”

(Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?)


Woman in despair red sweatshirt leaning against bed

(Sofia Alejandra /

Extreme jealousy—often taking the form of possessiveness and overbearing social restrictions—is common in abusive relationships. This tactic of manipulation can take many forms, all with an end goal of isolating the target from the outside world. Whether consciously or not, the individual who uses abuse to control his relationship wants to keep his partner to himself, to ensure she’s available whenever he wishes, in whatever way he desires. He may also have a strong need to reassure himself that she’ll never leave, since many individuals who use abusive approaches to their relationship do so out of a desperate fear of abandonment.

If you maintain close relationships with anyone other than your partner, he’ll likely feel his control slipping. After all, being around other people may cause you to reassess your situation and therefore to be less vulnerable to his gaslighting, criticisms, and influence. External friendships will help you maintain a higher level of self-esteem and self-worth. And, if you’re exposed to other couples, you may see what a healthy relationship looks like—and begin to question your own.

Although an abuser may not consciously harbor these thoughts, the underlying attitudes are still present.

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