Sunday 11th June, 2006

 
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Make abuse visible

I don’t know if there’s something wrong with him or if it’s me.

—Voice of abused women from Lundy Bancroft’s book

Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of angry controlling men

This is a continuing series written in the memory of four-year-old Emily Annamunthodo who was assaulted and killed in her home, and her 19-year-old mother, (now accused of negligence) herself a victim of spousal abuse having endured being stripped and dragged through the streets naked, body slammed into a wheelbarrow after which grass was thrown on her and she was threatened with being set on fire.

The biggest menace about domestic violence, (and the reason it affects up to 50 million American children annually who witness it being perpetrated on some 30 million mothers) is that it is menacingly woven into the fabric of everyday domesticity, in the heart of the most intimate relationships, which alternate between “love” and verbal, physical and emotional abuse leaving the victims perpetually bewildered and ultimately defenceless.

This series is aimed at making the invisible visible to abused women; to help them understand there is nothing wrong with them, and that they are victims of criminal behaviour. Sadly victims are often ashamed and don’t report domestic abuse.

Last week, I began summarising the chapter on the types of abusive men according to Lundy Bancroft, which is continued below.

The Player: Women were put on this earth to have sex with men—especially me. Women who want sex are too loose, and women who refuse sex are too uptight. It’s not my fault that women find me irresistible. If you act like you need anything from me, I am going to ignore you. I’m in this relationship when it’s convenient for me and when I feel like it. If you could meet my sexual needs, I wouldn’t have to turn to other women.

Rambo: Strength and aggressiveness are good; compassion and conflict resolution are bad. Anything that could be even remotely associated with homosexuality, including walking away from possible violence or showing any fear or grief has to be avoided at any cost.

Femaleness and femininity (which he associates with homosexuality) are inferior. Women are here to serve men and be protected by them. Men should never hit women, because it is unmanly to do so. However, exceptions to this rule can be made for my own partner if her behaviour is bad enough. Men need to keep their women in line. You are a thing that belongs to me, akin to a trophy.

The Victim: Everybody has done me wrong, especially the women I’ve been involved with. Poor me. I’ve had it so hard that I’m not responsible for my actions. When you accuse me of being abusive, you’re just like the rest. It’s justifiable for me to do to you whatever I feel you are doing to me, and worse to make sure you get the message. Women who complain of mistreatment by men, such as abuse or sexual harassment are anti-male and out for blood.

The Terrorist: You have no right to defy me or leave me. Your life is in my hands. Women are evil and have to be kept terrorised to prevent that evil from coming forth. I would rather die than accept your right to independence. The children are one of the best tools I can use to make you fearful. Seeing you terrified is exciting and satisfying.

Mentally Ill or Addicted Abuser: I am not responsible for my actions because of my psychological or substance problems. If you challenge me about my abusiveness, you are being mean to me, considering these other problems I have that you don’t understand. I’m not abusive, I’m just (alcoholic, drug addicted, depressed, or whatever his condition may be). If you challenge me, it will trigger my addiction or mental illness, and you’ll be responsible for what I do.

Next week: Warning signs of abuse, and abusive cycles.

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