with an Abuser
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Most abusers are males, although there are female abusers. In this article
we will speak of the abuser as a male since a much higher percentage of male
abuse than women. The definition of abuse for this article will be that of
physical violence of a man against a women in a relationship.
Abuse happens in all races, status, economic levels, and even in so-called
Are You in a Abusive Relationship or Heading in that Direction?
Violent physical abuse seldom starts all once, but tend to grow from small
beginnings. It starts with small slights and builds to the physical violence.
Where are is your relationship on this continuum? Is there....
- "Jokes about habits,
characteristics, or faults of partner
- Ignoring or denying partner's
feelings or needs
- Withholding affection or
approval as punishment
- Yelling, shouting, invading
partner's personal space
- Name-calling, insults
- Insulting or ridiculing
beliefs, religion. family, race, etc. . .
- Repeated insults, labeling,
and/or name-calling (e.g. "Stupid" "Jerk"
"Crazy" etc. . . )
- Repeated humiliation (private
- Controlling (insisting s/he
dresses a certain way, having him/her account or his/her actions,
controlling with whom s/he associates, not letting him/her have a job, not
giving him/her a role in making decisions, etc. . .)
- Blaming partner for your
abuse or behavior
- Manipulating partner with lies
and contradictions (playing "mind games")
- Slamming doors, hitting walls,
breaking objects (displays of anger and violence)
- Threats of violence or
retaliation (either direct or implicit)
- Threats of violence to his/her
family, children, friends
- Puts downs about abilities as
a parent, person, worker, partner
- Demanding all partner's
attention and resenting children
- Throwing objects at partner
- Jealousy (accusations,
following him/her, making him/her account for his/her time. etc.. .)
- Isolation (scaring or driving
away friends and family, insisting that partner not work or be involved in
activities without you, depriving him/her money, etc. . .)
- Manipulating others against
partner destroying meaningful possessions
- Threats to get custody, abuse,
or kidnapping children
- Threats to hurt or kill
him/her or children
- Suicide threats/attempts
- Hurting or killing pets
Male Awareness Program (MAP) in Anchorage, AK)
Children in Abused Homes
Men who abuse women, do so to control them because they do not or will not
control themselves. Abusing others is usually a learned behavior. Children
that grow up with an abuser in the home tend to become abusers themselves
because this is what was modeled for them. This behavior becomes the way to
handle life and its problems. Children in homes where abuse is going on are
learning this behavior now! The girls are learning to be doormats to become
abused in the future if not already being abused by the male abuser in their
home. The boys are learning to be abusers because that is how they see this is
how they are to treat women.
No matter how lousy the home life for children living with an abuser, this
home life becomes the template of what home is. When the child looks for a
mate, subconsciously s/he searches for the opposite part of the equation that
will reenact the home life atmosphere. Example: The little girl sees mother
verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abused. The child subconsciously
searches for a mate that will abuse her as Father did mother, even though she
desperately wants to get out of her home of origin because of the abuse. The
reason for this is that this is what a normal home life looks like to her, she
knows no other. A happy loving relationship is foreign She will be abused,
feel worthless, and her children will learn these behaviors and continue the
cycle one generation after another.
A Change in Behavior of the Abuser
- It is not often that a male
abuser will choose to change, because this would mean changing his whole
character. That's a lot of work and it takes SELF-CONTROL. This is
something he has little or none of.
- Males in general are seldom
seen in counseling unless they are court ordered.
- Abusers will probably never
admit that they have a problem. Instead they say that the abused causes
- The average abuser would
rather lie than admit that he had a problem to anyone, especially a
professional. He is usually very good at lying because it becomes a tool
to cover up his abuse from the world. He lies even to himself. He comes to
believe that all the abuse is the fault of the abused. If only she would
... then we wouldn't have this problem.
- Unless the abuser admits the
problem resides in himself then all the counseling in the world will never
help him because he believes he doesn't have a problem. Since he is not
the problem there is no reason to change. The want to change has to come
from inside an individual, not exteriorly from others wanting him to.
What is Needed
1. The abuser must want to change but he can't do it alone. He will
need a good psychologist who specializes in this type of work, to help him
change. This takes a great deal of time, about a year or more of real working
with a professional. Then it takes a lifetime of constantly guarding himself
to make sure he doesn't slip into the old abusive patterns.
2. The abused woman and female children who reside in the home, also need
to see a psychologist also to reconstruct self esteem and to teach better
3. The male children of the abused who reside in the home need a
psychologist to help them learn self control and how to treat others properly.
Why the Abusive Relationship Continues
Many people wonder would why a woman would stay and take the abuse. There are many
- The woman truly loves the
- He may be the father of her
- He has undermined the woman's
self esteem to the point that she believes that she is good for nothing
and no one else would ever love her or have her.
- He has brainwashed her into
believing that the problems in the relationship is all her fault.
- He has cut her off of friends
and family so that all she has is him. This also provide him the secrecy
he needs to carry out his abuse of her in privacy, so he doesn't have to
answer to others for his abuse.
- He has left her without money
or means to get away.
- He has threatened to hurt or
kill her and/or the children or other family members if she tries to
- He threatens to commit
- She feels she has no where to
- He threatens to go to court
and take the children from her. He tells her that no judge would give the
children to her because she is such a slob. She, because of the constant
belittling and brainwashing, believes him.
- The abuser checks on the
abused continually through the day to make sure she is still there.
Sometimes he will drop in unannounced or call.
- The abused is secretive of the
abuse from others because she is ashamed to admit that her own sweetheart
beats her, that she can't keep her man happy, that she is a failure at
this relationship, and because she fears another beating or death of
herself and her children, if she does tell.
- The cycle of violence has its
ups and downs. After violence occurs there is usually a time of hearts and
roses in the relationship. The abuser tells the abused that he does love
her and that it will never happen again or that he is sorry that she
caused the problem and he still loves her. Then after the loving and
making up period, pressure builds up in the relationship or in the abusers
life. The abuser becomes agitated and then finally the abuse happens to
relieve the pressure. Then the whole cycle starts again.
- Most abused women will tell
you that her abuser really does love her, that her sweetheart just gets
too angry and doesn't mean to hurt her.
Get Out Now!!!
- If you are in an abusive
relationship you have to get out now. You and/or your children are being
Abuse is never your fault, but
that of the abuser who is someone who cannot control himself.
There are shelters for
battered women and their children. They can help you reestablish your life
without him and provide counseling to help you and your children gain good
Do not tell the abuser or let
on that you are leaving. Choose a time that the abuser is not around to
Call the shelter and tell them
you want to come in. Ask their advice in how to accomplish this.
- Statistics have proven
that sooner or later his anger, left unchecked as it is, will escalate
to the point that he will kill you and/or the children. You cannot
afford to stay!
- He is destroying your
self-esteem, your mental and physical health.
- If you have children he
is destroying their chances at a happy life because they will not
recognize what a happy life is to obtain one.
- These children are
learning how to be abusers and/or abused adults.
- Your children are
learning pathological behaviors that they will pass on to their
children. This cycle has the ability to continue for generations or it
can stop here with you.
Often you can pack a things
ahead of time that will be needed, but not missed by the abuser and leave
them with a nearby neighbor. Then when you are ready you can get them and
make your escape. Some of these may be...
- The police may even be
able to take you there. Ask!
- Take an untraceable
means or transportation like a bus. A taxi can be traced.
Know your resources. If you
have family, this is the time to use them.
The greater the distance
between you and the abuser the better chance you have of living a life
free of danger brought on by the abuser.
Try to leave no trace of your
whereabouts. Remember that you are putting individuals in danger if they
know where you are. Some abusers are not above committing violence,
terrorism, or vandalism on others or their property to get what they want.
Many abusers are also stalkers who murder their runaway abused. Again... Leave
NO trace of where you are.
- Children's medical and
- Your medical records
- Baptismal and marriage
- Insurance policies
- Personal hygiene items
- Important phone numbers
- Child's favorite
Counselors at the shelter, can
help you set up the necessary legal paperwork for you to gain legal
custody of the children, file a restraining order against the abused, file
for a divorce, and other legal issues that must be taken care of.
- Once you are at the
shelter you can call people you love or care about, but don't tell them
where you are, only that you are safe.
- Many women are sweet talked
into coming back into the abusive relationship.
- You know that the abuser is a
liar. He know what you want to hear. He will tell you anything to get you
back, but as sure as he breaths, he will never keep his promises to you.
He never has in the past and never will in the future.
- If he says that he will get
help and the abuse will never happen again, make him prove it up front.
Tell him that he'll need about a year's worth of psychological help and
that you want him to get it before you will even consider go back to him.
Learned patterns of behavior
between family members especially between spouses is difficult to change,
especially after years of practice. Another words the outlook is slim to
none that he will ever treat you any differently that he has done in the
Let say that you go back into
a relationship with him. How many chances should you give him, if he slips
and hits you again. The answer is zero!!! Any women that is slapped
once needs to get out fast, because that first slapped in any relationship
will only lead to more in the future.
Statistics are all to plain
Almost all women who stay in abusive relationships are eventually
killed by their abuser!
- You will need a signed
affidavit from his psychologist attesting to his progress in anger
control and skills in dealing with interpersonal relationships.
- During the latter part
of the year, as he is progressing in his therapy, you may choose to
brave his visits, but only if you have other people with you as
chaperons in public places.
- Remember he can put on
a might show when he wants to. Unless he has really worked to change,
the behavior will only be a show cannot be sustained continuously over