Abusiveness is not a product of a man’s emotional injuries or of deficits in his skills. In reality, abuse springs from a man’s early cultural training, his key male role models, and his peer influences. In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology.
Contrary to popular belief, abusive men are typically not clinically mentally ill, deranged, or have so-called personality disorders (Narcissistic, Antisocial, etc.). Instead, they simply believe that their behaviors are perfectly OK and justified. In this article, we look at the beliefs the abusive man has, his mentality you might say, and offer you an opportunity to gain some perspective about someone you might know (husband, father, grandfather, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, boss, priest, minister, President of the United States, etc.).
The abusive man’s beliefs come from his socialization at home, school, church, or within society at large. During his early years, the future abusive man acquires certain beliefs about himself, most notably about the roles of men vs. women (read: Patriarchy) and how each should behave and what they deserve. When things don’t go according to what he believes, the abusive man feels justified in forcing them to go the way he believes they should go.
The socialization of an abusive man is based primarily on the so-called “Patriarchy.” You can get a more detailed treatment of the Patriarchy here. In the meantime, let’s do a quick review. In a nutshell, we can sum up the ideology of the Patriarchy in three easy steps:
1. Men are superior.
2. Women are inferior.
3. We (both men and women) all agree with points 1 and 2.
Got it? Good! (Well, not really good. But at least you’re with me so far.)
Step 3 seems the most damaging in my estimation. It involves a giant collusion between men and women to keep men in power positions over women. Lots of history behind all this. Too much for this meager article. Let’s just go with it for now. Thankfully, we as a society have begun to chip away at this situation and have questioned the true value vs. the damage of the Patriarchy.
Anyway, back to our abusive man and his headspace. But brace yourself, it’s going to get a little wacky. Here we go!
When the abusive man enforces his beliefs, the emphasis is on his feelings (he feels frustrated, angry, even “victimized” or “abused”) and on his partner’s behavior (she’s not doing what he wants; that is, what she’s “supposed” to do). I put the words victimized and abused in quotes above to represent the absurd nature of these feelings. The abusive man may actually believe he feels this way even though it’s really his partner who’s the victim and being abused. To understand this, you may now skip ahead to the fourth and fifth bullet points below. Here, you can get an idea of the mentality that leads the man to these wacky and oh so confusing (for his partner) conclusions.
Below is a list of some key elements describing the typical abusive man’s mentality, resulting from the socialization mentioned above. As you review this list, which briefly states the nature of an abusive man’s way of thinking, being, and behaving, you may have someone in mind who you wonder about (maybe even yourself). The person you have in mind may not fit all of these. However, the more that do fit, the more likely the person is behaving in an abusive manner.
He disrespects his partner and considers himself superior to her.
He feels entitled to special rights and privileges that don’t apply to his partner.
He is controlling in arguments, decision-making, or in the bedroom.
He twists things into their opposites, often turning things back around on his partner.
He takes no responsibility for his behaviors, typically placing blame on his partner instead.
He manipulates, lies, denies, confuses, changes moods abruptly, gets partner to blame herself.
He believes his abusive behavior is justified, feeling that his partner made him behave that way.
He denies or minimizes his abuse, which confuses his partner, making her question herself.
He is possessive of his partner, represented by jealousy or control of her personal freedom.
He strives to have a good public image, while treating his partner poorly in private.
While nothing can “prove” that the man in question is abusive, this serves to provide a perspective on the man’s mentality and why he does what he does. If you know someone for whom these ways of thinking and behaving fit, it may be time to contact a professional and talk things out. In any case, please be careful. The person in question may be dangerous, if not physically, then most certainly emotionally (which can be worse).
You may wish to look at some of the suggestions made toward the end of the article found here. In all cases, safety first!
Derived from “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft
Copyright 2018 Daniel J. Metevier