To stop abuse, one must first recognize it. We cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge. Today you can learn how to do both.
Eighty per cent of domestic violence is by men over women. Between ten and sixty nine per cent of women experience violence according to the World Health Organization.
Because I am a woman and a survivor of abuse, I shall speak from a woman's perspective in my use of words, but that is not intended to ignore or diminish abuse of men and boys. The principals and methods of abuse remain the same. I am one of thirty nine children born to my father's six wives. I was born and raised in a polygamist cult where women had no rights. All cultures where particular people have no rights, all cultures who religiously uphold gender or racial prejudice, have higher abuse ratios than other cultures. Abuse is always proportionate to the degree of assumed entitlement of the abuser. Abuse is often swept under the rug as though it were an acceptable way of life as long as it remains hidden. Abuse is nurtured through silence. Control grows through isolation and both thrive by the use of fear and disempowerment of their victims.We live in a nation that gives the same rights to ALL of us, so why do so many of us believe and live as if we could never have equal rights?
Most of us were raised the same way our parents were raised. We followed the same patterns we have experienced. Generation after generation we get the same or close to the same results. Children don't come with a manual. The imperfections can not be corrected by casting blame. People must change their comprehension before they will change their actions.Most of us came from families with varying degrees of dysfunction. Ignorance does not protect us from its results. Familiarity bids us to accept that which we have learned to live with. We do what our families do until we have the wisdom and the courage to dare to excel in being who and what we really are.
Most women stay in abusive relationships because they believe the pain of abuse hurts less than the pain of not being able to adequately provide for their children. The turning point comes when these women realize that the children they stayed to protect are being destroyed by living in the serious dysfunction of abuse.For most women, our children are our greatest vulnerability. For them we throw ourselves into bondage, but our children are also our greatest strength. For them we take on the world. To avoid the pain of these extremes, we must educate ourselves. We can't avoid the effects unless we understand the cause.
We must learn to recognize abusive behavior patterns before we get into relationships. Staying out of an abusive relationship is a lot easier than getting out of one. Being aware of serious dysfunction before you get involved is wise, but if you are already involved in an abusive relationship, having the courage to recognize what is abusive, despite what you are being told, could change your life.
Ladies, why would you allow someone who can't manage their own life, to control yours? Why would you allow a guy who can't be trusted with your car, to take over your home and your children? If he has no honesty, integrity, responsibility or respect for others, I guarantee, you will be one of those others, after you have taken the bait. After his flattery and attention aren't getting him what he wants. He'll change his tactics. Verbal, emotional and or physical abuse my punctuate his other wise 'nice guy' personality.
A pamphlet from the Humboldt County Mental Health Dept. reads; "Not all people who have the following characteristics are abusive. Not all abusers have the following characteristics, but most abusers":
1-Do not stand for, respect or uphold women's rights
2-They view women as sexual objects
3-They claim their disrespectful talk and behavior toward women is 'normal'
One of my favorite books on the subject of abuse is Lundy Bancroft's 'Why Does He Do That?' A quote from that book reads: "Abuse springs from a man's early cultural training. His key male role models and his peer influence. Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings." Lundy Bancroft's book clearly explains that entitlement is not a feeling of inferiority, but is just the opposite. Abusers assume that they are superior to those they choose to abuse. His brilliant intellect dispels old myths and supports new psychological findings.
Understanding entitlement is basic to understanding abuse. When a person believes they are better, because they are male, because of the color of their skin, because they belong to a particular political group or the 'right' church, because they have more money, a better education or any other reason they can use for an excuse, they are assuming a position of entitlement. They assume they are better than you are. They elevate them selves higher, which automatically makes you lower. They believe that those who are lower should serve those who are higher and they, the higher ones, will direct, lead and do the thinking.
They expect you to obey.
They have two sets of standards- one for them and one for you. They expect you to make personal sacrifices for their benefit, sacrifices that they in turn would never make for anyone.
They feel it is their right to be irresponsible and self indulgent in ways they would never allow you to be.
They expect and demand complete dedication and commitment on your part, but comparatively little or none on theirs.
They assume the right to do what they want to when they want to and it is allegedly none of your business, but they demand a full accounting of all of your time and your behavior to them.
Their feelings are all important. If you have feelings or explain your feelings, he will tell you that you are too sensitive, too immature, that you are inconsiderate of his feelings or that you are thoughtless or in some way malfunctioning.
Abusers have one set of sexual standards for they and one for you. If you behave like they do, they may subject you to Sevier punishment or even danger. It is common for abusers to be overly jealous. They judge others by their own behavior. Their dual standard provides them with no blame and no responsibility for anything that goes amiss, but for you it is just the opposite.
Controllers have turned manipulation into a master skill. They target their victims by attacking their credibility, their intelligence, their morals and their motives. They will attack anything that will put their victim in a position that will cause her to respond by trying to prove her worth or value in an attempt to rectify the alleged problem.
His objective is to throw his victim off balance and keep her attention focused on defending herself and not on the fact that she is being set up by the controller to get what he wants at her expense. Attacking puts the victim in a position of self analysis, intimidation and a frame of mind where she is easily manipulated into taking responsibility for anything she may be accused of. In a anxious need to relieve the feelings of intimidation and anxiety, she will attempt to prove that she is trying, that she does care and that she is a good person. Now she is set up to try harder and expect less.
These attacks on her self esteem are responded to by placating attempts of appeasement and other benefits to the controller, as the victim attempts to prove her value as a human being, but the controller isn't interested in her personal worth. He's interested in the pay offs he can extract from her. He twists facts to create confusion. People seldom react when they are confused. Those who don't react are easily manipulated. Confusion is a primary tool for an abusive controller. He believes the use of confusion makes him smarter and better than she is. He plays with her needs and emotions like a toy.
Controllers choose people who are vulnerable, weaker and have little defense, people who will placate, give in, try harder and stay quietly intimidated. These responses from the victim increase the problem. Why? Because it works. It works so well that you are guaranteed to get more of it.
Controllers will rewrite history, change facts or events any time it is convenient. They are not interested in reason. They are interested in control. Reason would require responsible behavior on their part. The only person the controller wants to be responsible is YOU. Controllers don't acknowledge or accept responsibility for their behavior. According to them, everything that went wrong in their lives is someone else's fault. Controllers have no use for people they can't use.
The pay offs for the controller are tremendous. All they have to do is 'kick' someone they believe has no entitlement and their victim starts to pay off like a broken slot machine. Have you noticed when a controller attacks a real mindless piece of machinery, he can't resist calling the machine 'stupid'. His desire to degrade that which he abuses is not confined to people. If he wrecks your car, he will tell you it was no good any way. If he starves your dog to death when you hired him to feed it while you were on vacation, he'll tell you the dog was old and worthless. If he steals your money, he'll tell you that life is easy for you and hard for him, so you owe it to him. The justifications are endless.
Responsibility for him is non existent.
Notice how everything the controller says when he verbally abuses you, is designed to let him have his way and to shut you up.
A quote from Lundy Bancroft says; "He's not abusive because he's angry. He's angry because he's abusive." Controllers use the words 'love, control and ownership' as if they were the same word. Then he blankets them all with abusive behavior.
If he cared about the reality of what love really is he would know it has nothing to do with abuse, ownership or control. Love is uplifting, not degrading. Love is inspiring, not controlling. Love cares about the emotions of ones beloved. Love supports the hopes, the dreams, the talent and the independence of ones beloved. Love does not ask what it will not be willing to give. Love is a feeling of admiration akin to respect. If your not getting these things in your relationship. Take a second look at it and study the degree of dysfunction. How much abuse are you willing to accept in the name of love? Love is never abuse. If you can't separate them in your own mind, you won't be able to separate them in your life experiences.
Of course there are times he is wonderful. If that were not true he never would have gotten into your confidence and your life in the first place. He still uses that charm to keep you off balance and wondering what is and is not true about his feelings for you. His times of tenderness keep you hooked in the game. If it weren't for those times you would have been gone a long time ago, but your not sure what is and is not true about your relationship. You keep hoping to regain the good part again.
His attitudes of love and hate are so enmeshed you never know what to expect. Time in his presence is more and more like walking on egg shells. He switches from peaceful to angry as easily as turning a light bulb on and off. He switches rolls or personalities when different people come and go. He'll do what ever it takes to keep his position of ultimate supremacy when no one else is around. Living is 'all about him' He will demand and keep front center stage in 'his' play of life. Everyone and everything is only an 'extra' in his 'personal drama'.
Controllers imagine that sex, or a promise of love, or a promise to do better, erases the slate so he can start over and repeat the process as often as he wishes. If you don't buy it, he will tell you it's your fault for not working on the relationship. We fall for controllers when they are playing the 'good guy'. Then they are sweet, kind and loveable. It isn't until you and the children are the only ones around, that you meet the 'bad guy' side of his personality. If you had a surprise visit from friends or family, he would suddenly become the 'good guy' again.
His behavior leaves a woman afraid to tell anyone what is going on because she is afraid no one will believe her, sense he doesn't show others the abusive side of his personality.
Personality switches are convenient for controllers and embarrassing for their victims, who by now have been sucked into defending and justifying his gradual shift into unreasonable behavior. This embarrassment keeps most woman quiet. Being afraid no one will believe her also keeps her quiet. Controllers know this.
Lundy Bancroft says, "Most controllers put on a charming face for the community, creating a sharp split between their public image and their private treatment of women and children." He may be:
1-Enraged at home, but calm and smiling else where.
2-Selfish and self centered with you, but generous and supportive with others.
3-Domineering at home, but willing to negotiate and compromise outside.
4-Highly negative about females on his own turf, but a vocal supporter when anyone is listening.
5-Assertive toward partner and children, but non violent and non threatening with everyone else.
6-Entitled at home, but critical of other men who disrespect and assault women.
Abuse has core similarities:
Assaults on a woman's self esteem
Undermining her independence
Confusion- between professions of love and his vicious psychological, emotional and or physical assaults.
These behaviors are STANDARD.
An abuser may seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit, but he's not as much needy as he is entitled. Thus, no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility- until you feel drained down to nothing. You can't change a controller. He has no motivation to change why should he? The payoffs for his behavior are too good to give up. He's not the one under pressure, you are.
These quotes from Lundy Bancroft's book, "Why Does He Do That?" And the wisdom within it, make it a basic for all women who want to understand and avoid abuse. I highly recommend reading his book. Remember, people don't change without incentive. If their bad behavior is rewarded. Where is the incentive? Your suffering and hurting is not his motivation. If he loved you, it would be, but control and ownership are not love, they are assumed rights (entitlement). You can't make him grow up and treat women as equals. The last thing he wants is equality. You can't make him act mature. The last thing he wants is fairness. The last thing he wants is equal responsibility. He doesn't care what women want. If he cared about the feelings of women even half as much as he cares about his own feelings, he never would have treated a women with such demeaning behavior in the first place.
What are you going to do about it? What happened to your hopes, your dreams, your talent and your joy and your self respect? You must see the problem clearly before you can let go of it and get on with your life. If you do not see it clearly, you are bound to repeat it. Look at your relationships. Is your conversation both speaking and listening? If only one person is allowed to speak, it is not a conversation; it's a speech or a lecture. Once he blocks communication by insisting that he knows what he does not know or want to know or by pretending that he knows more about your feelings than you do, the conversation is over.
You now have a choice. You can enter into an argument which will only be met with more aggression on his part, or you can choose no response. If you choose not to respond, he will imagine he has won by having the last word. Winning was what it was all about to him Communication was never his objective. He wants control, not communication. Anytime he thinks he is loosing his grip of control, he will increase the aggression of his attempts to keep you 'in your place'.
Those who care about you listen to you. Friends listen to friends. It's futile to defend your self against those who won't listen. They are not your friends. Tell them no more. Will they defame you and add to their self appointed victory? Probably, but they would do that any way, so why get emotionally involved. Stop taking it personally. It's the way THEY are, not the way YOU are.
Communication is as much listening as it is speaking. Control is attacking, blaming and manipulating. As soon as he refuses to listen, recognize the shift in control. You must recognize the bait so you will realize when you are getting hooked. Recognize it and avoid it. Often the safest route to freedom and peace of mind is the direct quiet one. Don't explain your self. Don't put yourself in a position to receive his aggression. Just leave.
Those who stay in an attempt to save a bad relationship often find themselves deeper in emotional quick sand if they are silent as a life style while living with a controller. The silence will be interpreted as agreement and the problem will only increase.You must stop responses that serve and reward bad behavior, even if you have to leave to do it. Gather up what is left of your self respect and live a healthier more stress free life. As Dr. Phil says, " It is better to be alone and healthy than to be in a relationship and be sick." Caring and capitulating are not the same. Caring takes action to do what is best. Capitulating is taking non action to do what is easy. Caring requires courage. Capitulating does not.Your hope lies in putting the SELF back in SELF RESPECT. Don't accept anything less. We teach people how to treat us. Don't settle for disrespect. You are worth more than that. You are a wonderful person. Without you, you have nothing. Take care of your self. You ARE worth it.
Associate with people who care about you. Quit associating with those who don't and be sure you know the difference.
I strongly recommend good self help books to assist in restoring your self esteem.
You must start valuing your self, respecting yourself and believing in yourself. If you don't recognize your value, you will continue to forfeit your rights and your freedom.
Patricia Evans, author of Controlling People, states, "Freedom and awareness are intrinsically connected. Without freedom awareness fades. Without awareness, freedom fades. If our freedom of choice is lost, life looses it's meaning. Despair fills the void of lost meaning." This quote should tell you a lot about depression. It should tell you a lot about the future of abuse women. It should give you enough incentive to act in self preservation.
Educate your self about abuse. Educate your daughters and your friends. Teach them to recognize abuse and refuse to accept it. Ladies, never under estimate your personal courage. You can make a difference in every life you touch.