Sunday, May 25, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 1): When is it Abuse?

A friend linked me to this book called, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. It's got some really great and helpful info, even if it's kind of hard to get through at times (triggers ahoy). I just wanted to post up some excerpts that I found both quite interesting and useful for my circumstances. There's quite a bit of info, so I'll make it a mini-series of posts. (Bold and Italics are mostly mine.)
In fact, his language tends to be of mutuality during the dating period- I want to be with there for you, etc. He may truly believe his own promises, because he wants to see himself as a generous and thoughtful partner, one who does not use or disrespect women. Later, when he begins to control the woman and take advantage of her, he will find ways to convince himself that it's not happening or that it's her fault. Abuse is not his goal, but control is, and he finds himself using abuse to gain the control he feels he has a right to. 
An Abuser is a human being, not an evil monster, but he has a profoundly complex and destructive problem that should not be underestimated. The common view of abusive men as evil, calculating brutes can make it difficult for a woman to recognize her partner's problems. She tends to think: My partner really cares about me and has a good side to him. He has feelings, he's not a sadist. He couldn't be an abuser. She doesn't realize he can have all these positive qualities and still be an abuser. 
An abuser's behavior is primarily conscious- he acts deliberately rather than by accident or by losing control of himself- but the underlying thinking that drives his behavior is largely not conscious. 
When Is It Abuse?
There is a difference between having a bad day and being a jerk and a pattern that adds up to something more serious. Behaviors such as name calling, interrupting and acting selfish and insensitive are hurtful and worthy of criticism but they aren't all abuse, except when they are part of a pattern of abuse. Abuse is about power, it means that a person is taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit or control someone else.
The lines where subtler kinds of mistreatment end and abuse begins include the following actions [My Note: not a comprehensive list from the book]: 
He retaliates against you for complaining about his behavior- repeating behaviors he knows you dislike, switching into the role of the victim, ridiculing you for complaining of mistreatment. He doesn't believe that you have the right to defy him. 
He tells you that your objections to his mistreatment are your own problem- says you are too sensitive, you think everyone is abusing you, you're angry because you are not getting your own way. He is trying to persuade you that you have unreasonable expectations of his behavior, that you are actually reacting to something else and that you are using your complaints against him. These tactics are to discredit your complaints of mistreatment, which is abusive. His core attitude is "you have no right to object to how I treat you". 
It's never the right time, or the right way, to bring things up- Initial defensiveness is comon even in nonabusive people. With an abuser however, even time after an argument to cool off doesn't help. In fact, the time between arguments may be used to build a case against you.
Justifies hurtful or frightening acts or says you "made him do it"- He may tell you he can yell because you're not listening to him or says he will stop one form of abuse if you stop doing something that bothers him, which often will be something you have every right to do.
Control Tactics in Arguments
Distorting what happened in an earlier interaction
Accusing you of doing what he does, or thinking the way he thinks
Using a tone of absolute authority
Not listening, refusing to respond
Laughing out loud at your opinion or perspective
Turning your grievances around to use against you
Changing the subject to his grievances
Criticism that is harsh, undeserved or frequent
Provoking guilt
Playing the victim

Smirking, rolling his eyes, contemptuous facial expressions
Yelling, out-shouting
Name calling, insults, put downs
Walking out
Towering over you
Walking towards you in an intimidating way
Blocking a doorway
Physical intimidation, such as getting too close when angry
Threatening to leave or harm you 

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