Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 4): Realities of Abuse #6-10

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
REALITY #6: He is manipulative.
There are some signs of manipulation by abusers that you can watch for:
  • Changing his moods abruptly and frequently, so that you find it difficult to tell who he is or how he feels, keeping you constantly off balance. His feelings toward you are especially changeable.
  • Denying the obvious about what he is doing or feeling. He’ll speak to you with his voice trembling with anger, or he’ll blame a difficulty on you, or he’ll sulk for two hours, and then deny it to your face. You know what he did—and so does he —but he refuses to admit it, which can drive you crazy with frustration. Then he may call you irrational for getting so upset by his denial.
  • Convincing you that what he wants you to do is what is best for you. This way the abuser can make his selfishness look like generosity, which is a neat trick. A long time may pass before you realize what his real motives were.
  • Getting you to feel sorry for him, so that you will be reluctant to push forward with your complaints about what he does.
  • Getting you to blame yourself, or blame other people, for what he does. Using confusion tactics in arguments, subtly or overtly changing the subject, insisting that you are thinking or feeling things that you aren’t, twisting your words, and many other tactics that serve as glue to pour into your brain. You may leave arguments with him feeling like you are losing your mind.
  • Lying or misleading you about his actions, his desires, or his reasons for doing certain things, in order to guide you into doing what he wants you to do. One of the most frequent complaints I get from abused women is that their partners lie repeatedly, a form of psychological abuse that in itself can be highly destructive over time.
  • Getting you and the people you care about turned against each other by betraying confidences, being rude to your friends, telling people lies about what you supposedly said about them, charming your friends and then telling them bad things about you, and many other divisive tactics.
When a woman gets called “bitch,” or gets shoved or slapped, she at least knows what her partner did to her. But after a manipulative interaction she may have little idea what went wrong; she just knows that she feels terrible, or crazy, and that somehow it seems to be her own fault. 
REALITY #7: He strives to have a good public image. 
If you are involved with an abusive man, you may spend a lot of your time trying to figure out what is wrong with you, rather than what is wrong with him. If he gets along well with other people and impresses them with his generosity, sense of humor, and friendliness, you may wind up wondering, “What is it about me that sets him off? Other people seem to think he’s great.”
They are drawn to power and control, and part of how they get it is by looking good in public. The abusive man’s charm makes his partner reluctant to reach out for support or assistance because she feels that people will find her revelations hard to believe or will blame her. If friends overhear him say something abusive, or police arrest him for an assault, his previous people-pleasing lays the groundwork to get him off the hook. The observers think, He’s such a nice guy, he’s just not the type to be abusive. She must have really hurt him.
The abuser’s nice-guy front helps him feel good about himself. My clients say to me, “I get along fine with everyone but her. You should ask around about what I’m like; you’ll see. I’m a calm, reasonable person. People can see that she’s the one who goes off.” Meanwhile, he uses the difficulties that she is having in her relationships with people—many of which may be caused by him—as further proof that she is the one with the problem.
Although these men usually keep their abusive side well hidden outside of the home, there is one situation in which it slips out: when someone confronts them about their abusiveness and sticks up for the abused woman, which happens to be my job. Suddenly, the attitudes and tactics they normally reserve for home come pouring out. The vast majority of women who say that they are being abused are telling the truth. I know this to be true because the abusers let their guard down with me, belying their denial. 
REALITY #8: He feels justified. 
They don’t mind glibly saying, “I know what I did was wrong,” but when I ask them to describe their verbal or physical assaults in detail, they leap back to justifying. 
Abusive men are masters of excuse making. In this respect they are like substance abusers, who believe that everyone and everything except them is responsible for their actions. When they aren’t blaming their partners, they blame stress, alcohol, their childhood, their children, their bosses, or their insecurities. More important, they feel entitled to make these excuses; when I point out that other men under the same pressures choose not to be abusive, they tend to become irate or contemptuous.
REALITY #9: Abusers deny and minimize their abuse.
If the man is abusive, of course he is going to deny it, partly to protect himself and partly because his perceptions are distorted. If he were ready to accept responsibility for his actions in relationships, he wouldn’t be abusive.
REALITY #10: Abusers are possessive.
Possessiveness is at the core of the abuser’s mindset, the spring from which all the other streams spout; on some level he feels that he owns you and therefore has the right to treat you as he sees fit.
In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology. When someone challenges an abuser’s attitudes and beliefs, he tends to reveal the contemptuous and insulting personality that normally stays hidden, reserved for private attacks on his partner. An abuser tries to keep everybody—his partner, his therapist, his friends and relatives—focused on how he feels, so that they won’t focus on how he thinks, perhaps because on some level he is aware that if you grasp the true nature of his problem, you will begin to escape his domination. 

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