I frequently speak with women experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence. One of the hardest things I and they, find it hard to believe and accept is that domestic violence is a choice. Not the victim/survivor’s choice, but the abuser’s decision to specifically act in behaviors to gain, exert, and maintain power and control over you, who they claim to love. The abuser opts to, prefers to, uses as a privilege to, determines to, selects to, harm you, his intimate partner. The abuser has a spirit of entitlement (his belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to you) to direct every aspect of your relationship the way he wants it to be. So, as you can see, none of this is your fault. Amazingly, abusers don’t think their behavior is abusive. Did you know that there is such a thing as a profile of an abuser?
I still have a huge problem wrapping my understanding around the abuser’s mentality—for some reason the insidiousness doesn’t compute—so I went searching for solutions. I came across the book “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft who has been working with angry and controlling men for approximately 23 years. Mr. Bancroft says, “Your abusive partner wants to deny your experience. He wants to pluck your view of reality out of your head and replace it with his.” Think about that for a while.
When the abuser does things like:
Keeps track of your every move; Constantly accuses you of things you didn’t do; Isolates you from family, friends, co-workers, etc.; Humiliates you in front of others; Throws your beloved puppy from the third-floor window; Forces sex on you; Can place you in fear from a certain look on his face; Threatens to harm your children if you don’t do thus and so; Refuses you access to your prescription medication; Laughs with the police officer who comes to your house claiming that he did nothing and that you are crazy; Comes to your job and throws acid on you; Drags you by your feet—hog-tied—down the hallway to prove a point; Tells you nobody loves you but him as he holds you in his arms; Tries to convince your family and friends that you are the crazy one, unstable, exaggerating the situation or that you provoked a ‘heated response’ instead of owning up to their own actions; etc. he is perversely rewarded. These are choices he’s intentionally forcing on you. “He feels that it is your job, your responsibility, to alleviate his burden. Your failure to do so, from his self-centered perspective, is an abdication of your duty, a form of betrayal.” Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T
The deluded abuser honestly believes that his devious exertion of power and control is in your…best…interest! In his mind you are an unpaid servant who should do everything to his liking—you don’t count. Another excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book: “When I have new clients, I go to the board and draw a compass with the needle pointing straight up to a big N. “You want your partner to be this compass, “I say to them, “and you want to be North. No matter where the compass goes, it always points in the same direction. And no matter where she goes, or what she’s doing, or what’s on her mind, you expect her to always be focused on you.” No matter what you do for him, it will never be enough.
The Bible verses below give us insight on entitlement.
James 4:1-12 – “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel…”
2 Timothy 3:2 – “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”
It’s always good to get an understanding about something that vexes your spirit, which for me is domestic violence. I do understand a little more about the mentality of an abuser, but it’s still hard to accept.
Next, let’s dispel a few myths and shine the light on the entitled abuser’s excuses:
Larry Bennett, PhD, licensed social worker and professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work, says, “A batterer who quits drinking is a sober batterer.”
I yelled at you because you acted like you weren’t listening to me. I was hit as a child, and that’s how I was raised. If our kids didn’t tell me that you were reading the newspaper, I wouldn’t know that you were planning to leave me.
Will you be able to spot an abuser pre-relationship?
Don’t be shy…leave a comment sharing your thoughts.
Stay tuned for Part 2. Yvonne Cole