Angry, Controlling Behaviour, and Abuse

Men can be abusive. Women can be abusive. Abusers are likely to be men, but women can be as abusive. This has not been stated often enough. Women can be as abusive as men.

One key myth about abuse is that an abuser becomes one because they were a victim of abuse. Research into abuse shows this is not the case. Many abusers use the “I was abused and therefore I can’t help it!” as an excuse for their behaviour. Sometimes it’s true that it happened. Other times it can be a big lie. Not all abusers were abused in the past. In either case, when someone tries to excuse their abusive actions with “I was abused”, it is merely a ploy to garner sympathy. Once they have sympathy from others, they feel that their actions are justified and they are free to continue to be abusive – after all, others understand it’s because the abuser was abused before. The reverse of this myth is also true. Whether or not someone has been abused is no indicator that they will be an abuser. There are many people who were abused who do not become abusers.

How does one recognize abuse? What is it? How do you recognize an abuser? The book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft, delves into this and more. The author also points out that a woman can be as abusive as a man, as there are cases of abuse in lesbian couples as well as homosexual couples.

Abuse can vary in levels. It can happen in small ways or in big ways. It often accumulates over the years. Often, abusers will start with something small to see what they can get away with. Then they gradually escalate the level of abuse.

There are different forms of abuse – physical, mental, and emotional.

Most people are aware of physical abuse. Not many people are aware of mental and emotional abuse.

Abusers are known to be controlling and angry. These two qualities are key aspects in an abuser’s profile. Abusers do not know how to deal with anger. They then take that out on the victim by attempting to control that person. Methods of control include everything from physically hurting someone (so they do only what the abuser wants and not what the abuser disapproves of) to injecting negative thinking patterns on the victim (with comments such as “You’re a whore! You’ll never amount to anything. You’re no good without me.”) Another key component of control is manipulation. Abusers will try to manipulate others. Manipulation is important to an abuser because it can help to confuse matters and hide their intentions. Manipulation is also important as it gives them the sense of control they need. Abusers will use manipulative tactics in order to maintain a line of dialogue between the abuser and victim in order to prevent the victim from leaving (the relationship). Often the victim will lose sleep, feel anxiety, or even worse, just get plain sick.

There are differences in male and female abusers. Female abusers may not ever physically abuse someone, but they can be mentally and emotionally abusive.

Abusers can be anyone you know. They can be your father, mother, brother, sister, cousin, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. Abusers will often get as close to you as possible – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They will get to know everything about you as it helps them find ways to control and manipulate you and your life. Some abusers are also stalkers or will become one after the victim attempts to leave. They will attempt to be in every part of your life, never giving you a moment to yourself. Abusers’ ultimate goal is to control the victim because they cannot control their anger. Thus, abusers will never choose to leave a relationship permanently because they need access to the person. The person that leaves an abusive relationship is always the victim.

Abusers rarely change. They will convince themselves they have done nothing wrong. They believe they have done nothing wrong. Abusers are often in denial about their actions and may try to manipulate the victim into thinking s/he is the abusive one. Abusers are also capable of distorting the truth of the matter so that it looks as if the victim is to blame or is in the wrong.

I read the above book a few years ago when I was in an abusive relationship. The relationship lasted six months only (thankfully!) and consisted of mental and emotional abuse. After reading Bancroft’s book, I realized there were a few other relationships in my life that were or had been abusive. Along with an ex-boyfriend, other abusers in my life included an ex-husband, a sibling, and yes, even a female friend. In all of these relationships, the abuser was unwilling to change. I ended all of these relationships, and I am better for it.

I hope that people take all forms of abuse seriously. At least read Bancroft’s book and be aware of the issue. He exposes many myths about abuse and abusers and clarifies what really needs to be done. The best and only solution that seems to work requires the victim cutting all ties to the abuser. If you are counseling anyone in any form of an abusive relationship, be aware that trying to reconcile the two parties is not the solution. The victim needs to be removed from the abuser as soon as possible. If you are counseling an abuser, be aware that s/he will not change if s/he is in denial about the abusive behaviour.

(Side note: Abusers are controlling and angry, but not all controlling and angry people are abusers. Some people do learn to deal with their anger and control issues before it even becomes abusive behaviour. It seems though that once a person adopts abusive behaviour, they rarely change.)

Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

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