The Abuser And Food

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Now that we’ve entered the holiday season, abuse seems to escalate in so many ways. Food is such an important part of enjoying the festivities along with certain customs and traditions connected with food and other pleasures. Sometimes the abusers decide to use food as a way to assert power and control limiting what their partner eats or shaming them for their food choices. Sometimes the abuser convinces her to break contact with her family, and she views this as being protective—especially when her childhood has been abusive. She thinks he’s going to take care of her instead of isolating her.

In my novel, Katie experiences both shaming and controlling what she eats by her husband, Claude, as seen in a restaurant with her friend Gillian and her husband when Katie tries to order what she wants—pasta—and Claude says it’s too fattening. He tells Katie to order the chicken paillard with salad instead. Gillian confronts Claude and says Katie has a right to order what she wants, but Katie caves into Claude to avoid confrontation. She undresses in her closet to avoid his criticism of her “fat body” even though she is a size 6. He’s obsessed with women gaining weight and hates Katie’s pregnant form. He seems to value the starving model figure of young females that in some ways resemble adolescent males over the feminine. He has also tried to isolate Katie from her parents and Gillian. Katie is happy to have distance from her parents and sees it as protective on Claude’s part.   She tries to separate from Gillian to stop her probing questions about Claude and his obscene remarks about Gillian, but Gillian will not give up. She keeps offering help, suggesting Katie report Claude for abuse, suggesting therapy and offering Katie and Rose a place to stay. Katie refuses. She doesn’t want to put Gillian in a difficult position professionally with her father and Claude, but Gillian’s support motivates Katie to make a plan to get out.

Take good care of yourselves,