In my last post, we explored some of the things a victim has to consider before she chooses to leave or stay in an abusive relationship. This post will explore the even more important question of why an abuser abuses in the first place. Let me begin by saying that I fully realize that men can be victims and women can be the abuser; for the purposes of this post, I am choosing to refer to the abuser as male and the victim as female since statistics show us that as many as 97% of abusers are male, regardless of the gender of their partner. (Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence) Because of the overwhelming amount of men as aggressor, I am choosing to delve into the reasons why men choose to abuse women.
You’ve heard it many times on this blog and have probably read it elsewhere as well. Control is the major motivator in being an abuser. A man who has the unmet need to control everything and every person in his life does not care who he hurts or what he does to gain that control. He will use everything in his power to make sure he wins all arguments, makes all the decisions, is in charge of the victims coming and going, is in charge of all parenting decisions and keep tabs on all the money. He will take total control and will do what ever he can to keep that control.
Abusers have an inflated sense of themselves. They are arrogant and have elevated themselves to a special stature in their own minds. Because he sees himself as all important, he then sees his wife and children as far less important. His mass importance automatically puts him into a category all his own. To go further, he also believes he is entitled to special treatment, special rights and that his needs have to be met on his terms. This entitled attitude will often be seen when an abuser requires certain actions from his partner such as supper to be made on time and perfectly every night. For her to be available for sex when ever he demands it. That she must pay 100% attention to him at all times regardless of anyone else who might need her. He must have her devoted to him at all times, she must be available for sex at all times, he must be able to show her off at will as though he owns her. If he perceives that he is not getting the special treatment he deserves then he will abuse her to teach her a lesson and keep her in line.
A myth that most people believe is that a man abuses because he has an anger problem. The truth is, an abuser has an issue with his victims anger, not with his own. If she gets angry or makes demands, then he abuses her to teach her that asking for anything is not allowed. Only he has the right to make demands or become upset and controlling. He gets angry because he is abusive not because he can’t control his anger. If fact, he controls his anger and his abusive behavior all the time. He rarely abuses other people outside of his own home and the majority of major abusive outbursts are done in private.
Another way to say this is that he doesn’t know how to love anyone more then he loves himself. He will often make statements that will give you a clue that this is true such as “I love her so much. She can’t ever leave me.” The feelings that abusers have that they call love can more closely be explained as possession and ownership. The love they experience has nothing to do with mutuality, respect or sincere empathy. Because they often confuse love as abuse, it enables them to justify how they treat their partner.
He is Manipulative
Abusers manipulate. They keep you walking on egg shells and trying to please them and will manipulate you to control you. Abusers are not versed in using healthy communication or relational techniques. Manipulating someone is much faster and more effective because he doesn’t not have to consider the other persons needs, only his own. He will change his moods quickly. His moodiness is unpredictable and often volatile. He will lie and deny what he is obviously feeling. It is very important to him that you constantly look after his feelings, feel sorry for him and take the blame for everything negative thing that happens. He will use tactics like gas lighting, passive-aggressiveness, confusion, talking in circles and crazy making. He knows his victims buttons and will push every single one of them, and then tell her she is over reacting and crazy. Manipulation is very covert and hard to describe to someone who doesn’t understand the long term psychological effects it has. It is one of the worst kind of abuses as it is very difficult to quantify.
HE REFUSES TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
He feels justified in his abusive behavior and attitudes. In his mind, she deserves what he does and says to her. If she’d listen to him better, obey him and do what he tells her to do, then he wouldn’t have to teach her a lesson. He believes that she needs his control in order to keep her in life in order. He often believes that she actually wants to be abused. He believes he can blame her for everything that goes wrong in his life.
HE MINIMIZES AND DENIES HIS ABUSE
Abusers are masters at minimizing their actions. They will blame shift, ridicule and laugh off their abuse as a joke. This is a great way of keeping their façade to the general public. People see him as charming and kind. He is wonderful in public, but behind closed doors is when the true man emerges. When he calls you names and you become offended, he’ll say it was just a joke. When he opens his car door into you and leaves a bruise on your leg, he’ll say you are over reacting. When he slaps you across the face he says you are lucky he didn’t punch you; or that you are overreacting because it wasn’t that hard. When he spends hours in the middle of the night lecturing you, he’ll say that you were working out your issues like adults and maybe, if you can’t handle it, then you aren’t an adult! Minimizing and denying leads the victim to doubt her own sanity at times.
There are many more items I could add to this post but I believe that these are the basic core beliefs and thoughts of an abuser. This is how they justify their behavior and attitudes. Abusers can change their ways if they choose to. They can get help. There are many perpetrator counseling groups and individual counselors who are trained to help an abuser see the error of their belief system. They will help an abuser uncover their root issues and heal from them. Most men will not attend these programs unless they are forced to.
I drew a lot of my information from Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That, Inside the minds of abusive and controlling men“. This book is also known as the ‘abuse victims bible.’ It is so accurate in portraying the psyche of an abuse, I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to know more.