Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Do Abusive Men Abuse?

Is your husband or partner abusive towards you? Why Do Men Abuse? And Their Denial or Minimization of the Abuse

[Although this may sound as if it's a simplistic question, there are greater underlying issues concerning why men abuse. Here's a rationale behind his abusive behavior, plus more common traits of an abusive personality. Whatever you do, remember domestic violence comes from learned behavior.]
by Sanctuary for the Abused
(we have used the male gender, your abuser could be female)
(‘battering’ can be extended to verbal, emotional & psychological abuse)

Abusive men batter women as a means of power and control, to manipulate, intimidate and rule their intimate partner.

Men who abuse their partners come from all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, areas of the world, educational levels and occupations.

They often appear charming and attentive to outsiders, and even to their partners, at first.

Many batterers are very good at disguising their abusive behavior to appear socially acceptable. Once they develop a relationship with a partner however, they become more and more abusive.

Characteristics of Domestic violence perpetrators:

  • Seek control of the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of their partner
  • Punish their partner for resisting control.
Men who batter:
  1. minimize the seriousness of their violence.
  2. act impulsively.
  3. distrust others.
  4. need to control people and situations.
  5. express feelings as anger. 
A batterer covers up his violence by denying, minimizing, and blaming the victim. He often convinces his partner that the abuse is less serious than it is, or that it is her fault. He may tell her that “if only” she had acted differently, he wouldn’t have abused her. Sometimes he will say, “You made me do it.”
Victims of abuse do not cause violence. The batterer is responsible for every act of abuse committed.

 Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It is learned through:
  • observation
  • experience
  • culture
  • family
  • community (peer group, school, etc.)
  •  (Personality disorders, mental illness, and other problems may compound domestic violence, but the abusive behavior must be addressed separately. )
 Abuse is NOT caused by:
  • mental illness
  • genetics
  • alcohol and drugs
  • out-of-control behavior
  • anger
  • stress
  • behavior of the victim
  • problems in the relationship
Many men blame their violence on the effects of drug and alcohol use. Alcohol abuse is present in about 50 percent of battering relationships. Research shows that alcohol and other drug abuse is commonly a symptom of an abusive personality, not the cause. Men often blame their intoxication for the abuse, or use it as an excuse to use violence. Regardless, it is an excuse, not a cause. Taking away the alcohol, does not stop the abuse. 

Substance abuse must be treated before or in conjunction with domestic violence treatment programs.
A batterer abuses because he wants to, and thinks he has a “right” to his behavior. He may think he is superior to his partner and is entitled to use whatever means necessary to control her.

Some ways batterers deny and minimize their violence:
  • “I hit the wall, not her head.”
  • “She bruises easily.”
  • “She just fell down the steps.”
  • “Her face got in the way of my fist.”
 Characteristics of a Potential Batterer 
  • Jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Quick involvement
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Isolation of victim
  • Blames others for his problems
  • Blames others for his feelings
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Cruelty to animals or children
  • “Playful” use of force during sex
  • Verbal abuse
  • Rigid sex roles
  • Jekyll and Hyde type personality
  • History of past battering
  • Threats of violence
  • Breaking or striking objects
  • Any force during an argument
  • Objectification of women
  • Tight control over finances
  • Minimization of the violence
  • Manipulation through guilt
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Expects her to follow his orders
  • Frightening rage
  • Use of physical force
  • Closed mindedness

Abusers often try to manipulate the “system” by:

  • Threatening to call Child Protective Services or the Department of Human Resources and making actual reports that his partner neglects or abuses the children. 
  • Changing lawyers and delaying court hearings to increase his partner’s financial hardship. 
  • Telling everyone (friends, family, police, etc.) that she is “crazy” and making things up. 
  • Using the threat of prosecution to get her to return to him. 
  • Telling police she hit him, too.
  • Giving false information about the criminal justice system to confuse his partner or prevent her from acting on her own behalf.
  • Using children as leverage to get and control his victim.
  • Accusing her of stalking him and/or his family.
  • Accusing her of harrassment.
  • Abusers may try to manipulate their partners, especially after a violent episode.
He may try to “win” her back in some of these ways:

  • Invoking sympathy from her, her family and friends.
  • Talking about his “difficult childhood”.
  • Becoming overly charming, reminding her of the good times they’ve had.
  • Bringing romantic gifts, flowers, dinner. Crying, begging for forgiveness.
  • Promising it will “never happen again.” Promising to get counseling, to change.
  • Abuse gets worse and more frequent over time.
Lies Abusers Tell

Abusers often tell lies about their violence to themselves (their partners and society):

“I just need to be understood”.
"I had a bad childhood.”
 “I can’t control it.”
 "I get angry.”
 “She fights too.”
 “She pushes my buttons.”
 “If I don’t control her, she will control me.”
 “My smashing things isn’t abusive, it’s venting.”
 “I have a lot of stress in my life.”
 “I just have an anger management problem.”
 “I just have a problem when I drink or use drugs.”

Do you think you’re in a relationship with an abuser? Tell us about your experience. Leave your comments below.

Remember, if you’re being abused or battered, it is your right to end it. It is your right to seek help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24 hour assistance. Call now! 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224

Has your abuser denied or minimize his violence against you? How did it make you feel? Share your experiences with us by commenting below.

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