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Rules of the Game

The ‘Rules of the Game’ are the beliefs of The Dominator.  This is how he expects women to behave!  It is also how he thinks he should be able to behave!  The Dominator has hundreds of ‘rules’.  Lets look at a few of them:

  • Men own women and women must do as we are told.
  • Women must have no self confidence. We are never to answer back, have an opinion of our own or make our     own decisions.
  • Women should stay at home and not have a life of their own.
  • Women should believe and accept all the excuses he gives us for his abuse.
  • Women should be responsible for all childcare.
  • A woman should provide services and act as an unpaid servant.
  • A woman should provide sex on demand.
  • A woman should never be allowed to leave or end a relationship, no matter how abusive or violent it is.

The Dominator uses various and numerous tactics to keep these rules in place.  Here I have described some tactics The Dominator may use to keep each of the above ‘rules’ in place:

‘Men own women and women must do as we are told’ – shouts, glares, smashes things, sulks.

‘Women must have no self confidence.  We must never answer back, have an opinion or make our own decisions’ – tells us we are stupid, ugly fat, useless.  Humiliates us in front of other people.

‘Women should stay at home and not have a life of their own’ – isolates us from our family/friends, stops us from working.

‘Women should believe and accept all the excuses he gives us for his abuse’ – uses the ‘only’ word!  It was ‘only’ a slap, blames drink, stress, YOU!

‘Women should be responsible for all childcare’ – moans when he has to ‘babysit’!  Threatens to take the children away. 

‘A woman should provide services and act as an unpaid servant’ – does nothing around the house to help, Burn everything he cooks.

‘A woman should provide sex on demand’ – does not take no for an answer and forces us to have sex.

‘A woman should never be allowed to leave or end a relationship, no matter how abusive or violent it is’ – says he loves us, threatens suicide.

Women are accused of ‘breaking the rules’. we may say ‘NO’!.  We may say we are leaving.  We refuse to have sex.  We go to work.  We make friends and go out to see them.  It is worth pointing out that women do not actually know what the ‘rules’ are.  They change constantly and what we think is a rule, ends up not being a rule.  We don’t know what the right thing to say or do is and when we think we have worked it out, we are still wrong – hence the saying ‘Walking on eggshells’!

The Dominator feels outraged that we have broken the rules!  He feels powerless and not in control.  How dare she?!  He HAS to get the rules back in place. If he doesnt, he isnt a ‘real man’.  He has lost all control!  It is worth remembering that most women are seriously injured or killed when attempting to leave or having left an abusive relationship.  Why?  Because she has BROKEN THE RULES!!!  The Dominator knows he needs to use abuse/violence to get the rules back in place but first he needs to justify this.  He may not feel totally comfortable about using violence.  If asked if he ever hits his partner, he may say “Only if she deserves it”!  So he convinces himself that she does deserve it. He may go and get drunk.  This is a common tactic.  He will tell himself that she had no right to say No to him.  “Who does she think she is”?  “she knows I hate it when she disobeys me”.  When he has justified the use of violence, he will hit her and then usually say he was so drunk, he doesn’t remember doing it!

The Dominator now needs to re-establish the rules and get them back in place.  He does this by using minimisation and lying.  He may cry, say he will never do it again.  “It was only a slap”.  “You know you make me angry when you do that”.

The ‘Rules of the Game’ are back in place and the whole cycle starts again...

If we look at this cycle, we can see that at no point is The Dominator actually angry or out of control.  He is choosing his behaviour and is in total control of what he is doing and saying!

If The Dominator wishes to change his behaviour, he needs to change his beliefs about women.  He needs to change the 



To find out more about the tactics discussed on this page go to The Dominator – Traits & Persona.

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    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
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