1. Boundaries. Negan has none. If he wants your stuff, he's going to take your stuff. If he wants to be so close you can feel him on your skin, that's how close Negan is going to stand. Abusers don't understand that they stop where their bodies stop or that their rights stop where their body stops. To an abuser, everything is theirs, including your body.
2. Quick involvement. Notice how Negan came a mere days after the encounter in the woods instead of the week he promised? Negan doesn't want to leave enough time for Alexandria to forget him or to realize that they're more powerful than him. He makes himself a constant presence in the lives of the Alexandrians. An abuser will quickly make their presence a constant in your life because they want you to know that they own you, and you aren't your own person anymore.
3. Controlling behavior. I don't think I need to explain this one. Negan is obviously controlling, not only of Alexandria and the Hilltop, but of everyone within his reach. It's Negan's way ... or Lucile's.
4. Hypersensitivity. To say that the Alexandrians - and his own people - walk on eggshells around Negan would be an understatement. Say the wrong thing and he explodes. Notice the body language of the people around him. They keep their eyes down and their shoulders hunched. They choose their words carefully and change them if his body language tenses.
5. Blames the victim. It's Rick's fault he killed Abraham. He didn't want to. Rick asked for it. It's Daryl's fault he killed Glenn. He didn't want to. It's Carl's fault they had to take all the guns...
6. Unrealistic - and changing - expectations. The amount of supplies Negan demands from the communities he's enslaved increases at a rate that these communities cannot realistically obtain them. It takes time to raise a sow. It takes time to grow food. Negan has no concept of this because nature, like everyone else, should bow to his desires. And Alexandria? He wants them to impress him. What does that even mean? Does he want a helicopter? Who knows. Oh. And he wants them to do it without any weapons.
7. Violence and threats of violence. Another obvious one. It's all Negan does at this point.
8. Obsession with weapons. Negan's obsession is so intense that he's given his baseball bat a name and a personality. He probably sleeps cuddled up to it.
9. Isolation. This takes many forms. Last week, Daryl was locked up. This week, nobody was allowed to talk to each other without permission. There is power in numbers. Abusers know this, so they eliminate the numbers. They eliminate the ability of the victim to fight back. So not only does he isolate them from one another, he takes away their only way to fight back - he takes their armory.
10. Sexual cohesion and abuse. The way Negan talked about Maggie made me want to vomit. Negan not only thinks that everyone belongs to him, that everyone is an extension of him, but that all women want him. And he's not going to take "no" for an answer. Negan gets what Negan wants. An abuser thinks they have ultimate power over your sexuality.
Negan's back story is one of an abuser. Lucile was probably the name of his wife. Negan didn't go to Alexandria to take their stuff. He went to Alexandria to terrorize the people - to let them know how big and powerful he is and how small and alone they are. He went because he wants them to know that he possesses them. Negan looks powerful, but in reality, Negan is insecure and small and without the belief that he is big and powerful, his victims outnumber him by at least 100 to 1 and eventually somebody is going to do the math.
This was a long episode and there's more to cover. Before I do, if you are the victim of abuse, I wanna tell you, it is not your fault. Bad people do bad things. Even if it feels like you're alone, you aren't. Make a plan. Be prepared. Get help and get out. Moving on..
This season, so far, is full of parallels. The Kingdom vs. Negan's compound. Daryl vs. Dwight...and now Rick vs. everyone.
Rick vs. Michone: Where Rick is complacent, Michone is determined. When the Governor hurt the people she loved, Michone hunted for him. Rick grabbed a rake. Michone has a strong sense of justice and will take the execution of justice into her own hands. Rick has no moral center. He floats around never quite knowing what to do. Now, in the face of Negan, Michone is target practicing...at least until Rick turns her in.
Rick vs. Carl: It's yet to be determined if Carl turns into the little psychopath he is in the comics, but where Rick is afraid, Carl is brave. Blame it on hormones? Carl was willing to sacrifice his arm when Rick was too weak. Carl was willing to protect their home and their medicine while Rick cowered in fear. One shot, and Carl could've taken Negan out. Maybe it would've been a stupid move, but we'll never know.
Rick vs. the Alexandrians: Rick complies without question. The Alexandrians question everything - especially Rick's leadership that has brought them to where they are.
What got me most wasn't how Rick is different from everyone but how similar he is to Dwight and Negan.
In the face of oppression, Rick and Dwight help Negan terrorize their own people in order to protect them. Dwight takes Negan's name. Rick takes Negan's weapon. Together they are part of the problem.
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
The imagery of Rick holding Lucile is a powerful reminder that Rick is on the same path as Negan. He will do anything to stay in power - including submission to Negan. In his confrontation with Spencer, Rick says, "You say anything like that again to me, I'll break your jaw, knock your teeth out. Understand? Say yes." His people have the same choices as Negan's people. It's Ricks way or death and as Spencer reminds him, Ricks path is paved with bodies to prove it.
Side notes -
What I wish Rick had said in his monologue about Shane: "Shane didn't think I was strong enough to protect my son. Maybe he was right. Things are different now. I am the only one who can protect his daughter."
What I hope happens from here: I want to see Negan's own people corner him at the end. And when he says, "Who do you think you are?" I want Dwight to say, "I am Negan." Before Lucile comes down on Negan's head.