Go Inside the Minds of Abusive Men

03-16-2017 9:03 AM

I am currently participating in a four-week, online seminar by Lundy Bancroft. He’s an internationally acclaimed author and speaker on domestic abuse and child maltreatment. He has worked with more than 1,000 abusive men from 20 countries and all walks of life. This online seminar is based on his 2003 best-selling book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry Men.

Over the next four weeks, I’ll blog about what I learn. So stay tuned!

Here’s what I learned this week about abusive men:

  1. Their similarities are greater than their differences. Yes, abusers come from all walks of life. But they have similar methods and maneuvers.

  2. He looks like prince charming at first. Early in the relationship, he will often treat the woman better than a non-abuser. He comes off as extra charming, extra generous. He believes that he’s lovable, and he’s going to convince you of that. So yes, this man was different in the beginning.

  3. His outlook on women must change. The abuser’s problem isn’t emotional. He must make deep changes in his attitudes and values. You won’t be able to “do” enough to satisfy him.

  4. He is a controller — but not to everyone. Likely, he’s just controlling the woman in his life. His coworkers, friends and relatives may not see him as controlling. He believes he has the right to control a woman.

  5. He operates by coercive control, not annoying control. An annoying controller may tell you how to chop the lettuce. A coercive controller is more like a choke collar on a dog. The more the dog resists, the tighter the collar gets. You can stand up to an annoying controller. You cannot successfully stand up to the coercive controller.

  6. He gives the woman pieces of freedom. While some men do control every area, most do not. And he’s likely to point to those areas of freedom if someone accuses him of abuse. This also makes women question whether the man really is abusive or not.

  7. He feels entitled. He believes he has special rights and privileges that don’t belong to his partner.

  8. He learned abusive behaviors. How? 1) From his father, stepfather or other influential male relatives; 2) peers during the teen years; 3) less healthy aspects of religion; 4) pornography.

  9. Entitlement leads to a double standard. For instance, he can choose to spend time with anyone. But he tells you who you can spend time with. He can do things that you can’t — like spend money. This may be obvious or not. Every time your sister comes over, he’s such a jerk that your sister doesn’t want to come anymore. Or every time you go out, he picks a fight with you.

  10. He accuses you of abuse. He turns everything back to you. When you want equality, he claims you’re selfish. (He thinks everything should be for him.) You won’t be able to argue against his distorted thinking.

  11. He defines his abuse as self-defense. Lundy gives an example of a man who complained in a group that his wife tried to kick him between the legs while he was trying to strangle her. He will define whatever she does as wrong. He defines his actions as necessary to protect his rights. He acts like a victim and believes he’s a victim.

  12. He manipulates. He may say he’s doing something good for you, but he does it for a selfish motive.

  13. He has a good public image. People on the outside see him as particularly nice, funny or generous. He may be the head of a charity or extra likeable. This helps him gain power over the woman. No one will believe that he could be abusive.

  14. He’s a good liar. He can lie with convincing detail while he looks you in the eye. He lies about money, intentions, motives, etc. And yes, abusers are much more likely to cheat on their wives or girlfriends.

  15. He’s disrespectful. He talks down to her, uses insulting voices, ignores her opinions and treats her like she’s stupid. Over time, she feels less competent, less intelligent and less like a human.

  16. Not his fault. He’s a master at making excuses or blaming others. He blames his behavior on being drunk, lack of sleep, his childhood or anything else he can think of.

Stacy Graves is contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog. Stacy loves to hear from you. You can connect with her at stacy@wordcoaching.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.