#6 Turning a blind eye

When thinking about gender based violence, there is a common image of a younger woman, a physically larger man standing over her using physical violence to exert power & control.

Often domestic abuse is far more subtle & nuanced than this. Particularly for those perpetrators who for decades, have mastered the skills of exerting power & control in plain sight, with little evidence to the outside world of the harm they are causing. 

As you read Sheila’s story consider these questions. 

  • What are the abusive & controlling tactics used by Ken?
  • How might Sheila recognise what she was being subjected to?
  • Would you spot the subtle signs?
  • Can you think what consequences may be, if Sheila challenged Ken? 


Sheila, is a fictional woman in her 90’s. Her partner Ken has expertly used her disability to control her & mask his behaviour.

They’ve been together for 57 years. Ken has always dominated the relationship, but things got worse after Sheila had a stroke in her late 70’s, which left her nearly blind. She recovered from all the other effects, but her sight remained a difficulty. 

Sheila relies on a cane & glasses, but can manage independently with these aids.

Ken will move these items out of sight or reach, when he leaves the house or goes into the garden. Knowing that this will restrict Sheila’s movements & ability to leave the house. Ken has gradually manipulated Sheila to doubt herself so much, that she will convince herself it was her that left them out of place. 

Arriving home Ken would frequently appear to rescue ‘silly Sheila’ & find the items so she could get on with her day. 

Over the years, Sheila ensured the items were placed in a specific place to prevent her ‘losing’ them.  

But Ken developed new tactics to alter her sense of reality. 

Swapping medication, unplugging electrical equipment, changing the lighting. All leaving Sheila feeling her sight was deteriorating or that she was becoming forgetful. 

Ken even bought Sheila a cat, Moggy, she adored Moggy, her baby. Ken would sometimes lock the cat in a room. The constant meowing but inability to free her, would be torturous for Sheila. She could never be sure if Ken’s actions were intentional & again would assume it was something she’d done, HER mistake.

Surely Ken wouldn’t be so cruel.

Ken knew by getting a cat, Sheila could never contemplate leaving him.  

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Know Your Place

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading