Sly slap of abuse


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Category: Relationships 28 May 06


This series, in which I am referring to Lundy Bancroft’s amazing book Why Does He Do That? is a memorium for the hundreds of women and dozens of children who have been emotionally and physically battered, assaulted and killed by men in their own homes—men who they trusted, loved and depended on.


Bancroft starts his book with voices of abused women.


“I feel like he’s never happy with anything I do.”


“He messes up my mind.”


“He’s scared me a few times but he’s a great father.”


“The thing is, he really understands me."


“He says he loves me so much. So why does he treat me like this?”


“He’s two different people. I feel like I’m living with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.”


Annually, in the US some four million women are assaulted by their partners, of them, 2,000 are murdered, making domestic violence the number one cause of physical and emotional injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.


Perhaps through this space, Bancroft’s words can help those women among us who are victims of domestic violence.


Bancroft addresses the garden variety of abuse and control—the “invisible” deadly manipulation and control that everyone including the victim misses because it is subtle taking the form of financial control, intimidation, put downs, emotional abuse and undermining.


Abuse is a sly corrosive control thing that gradually builds itself into the fabric of the relationship. Gradually it slips into a black eye here, a broken arm there, destruction of her property, the threat of worse. Just when the woman thinks she can’t take it anymore he turns into Hyde, the kindest sweetest man in the world who brings flowers and tenderly dresses the wound he has inflicted saying, “If only you would listen, I wouldn’t do this to you.”


Men’s Myths


Bancroft shows it’s a trick. There is no such thing as “doing right” for an abuser. His main purpose is to keep you down to control. He will give you just enough kindness to keep going and slap you down again, if not physically, emotionally to keep you where he wants you—a remote control toy controlled by him.


Bancroft says women who live with abusive men often feel sorry for them because of the myths these men build around themselves. These myths says Bancroft, include.


1. He was abused as a child.

2. His previous partner hurt him.

3. He abuses those he loves the most.

4. He holds in his feelings too much and they build up until he bursts.

5. He has an aggressive personality

6. He loses control.

7. He is too angry.

8. He is mentally ill.

9. He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.

10. He hates women.

11. He has low self-esteem.

12. His boss mistreats him

13. He has poor skills in communication and conflict resolution.

14. There are as many abusive women as there are abusive men.

15. His abusiveness is as bad for him as for his partner.

16. He is a victim of racism.

17 He abuses alcohol or drugs.


According to Bancroft these myths are excuses. There is no way to overcome abusive behaviour by focusing on self-esteem, anger management, etc. “Abusiveness” Bancroft says “is resolved by dealing with abusiveness.”


The truth is abusive men don’t lose control. They pretend to. If they did they would damage their own property, or stronger people but don’t. They only do what they have to keep their women cowering, what they can get away with, and then stop.


Next week: Types of abusive men.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur