Do Emotionally Abusive Men Know They Are Abusive?

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by Annie Kaszina on March 23, 2016

‘Do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive?’ is a question often asked by their emotionally abused partners.

Why do victims of abuse need to ask?

Because they are looking for an answer that will make them feel better.

Do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive? – the preferred answer

When emotionally abused women ask “Do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive?” their preferred answers usually start with the words:

 “No, they don’t.”

If emotionally abusive men don’t know they are abusive, that may well mean that they have something wrong with them – like Narcissism.  It means various things to them.

  1. These men were just made abusive, and can’t be changed. This takes their victims into the realm of praying for the serenity to accept what cannot be changed.  It may even give them a Licence to Stay with this man whose abusiveness is an affliction.
  2. If and when these abusers finally See The Light and realize how abusive – and beastly – they’ve been, they’ll be instantly mortified, deeply repentant, and utterly transformed. Appealing a fantasy as this may be, the effort involved in trying to make abusers see The Error of Their Ways would be better used in trying to turn base metal into gold.  That’s alchemy for you, and alchemy just doesn’t work.
  3. They’re not really bad, just grossly insensitive. Many, many emotionally abused women don’t want to believe people they know and love can be deliberately cruel. Despite all the evidence to the contrary. For many women, this faith that their loved one can’t be deliberately cruel actually grows out of their reluctance to admit to themselves that they have lived through a great deal of cruelty.

Still, the key question doesn’t go away:  do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive? Because, if they don’t, how come they are so good at knowing exactly where, and how, to hurt? That can’t just be an accident, can it?

My guess is that very few emotionally abusive men would own that abusive label.  They’d argue that they were ‘driven’ to their bad behaviour by their partner’s shortcoming.  They’d argue that they’re just regular guys, driven to whatever lengths they go to by the unreasonable, endless PROVOCATION of a needy, difficult, and ungrateful partner.

The victim of the piece

They would cast themselves as the victim of the piece:

“How can you possibly blame me for being driven to distraction by this witch who is unworthy to share my home, my bed, and my bank account etc. etc.?

Some of them might admit that their behavior has dropped, momentarily, below their alleged, normal  high standards.  But they admit it only with a view to reclaiming the moral high ground. Anyone who is prepared to admit their own occasional shortcomings has to be pretty good, right?

What I know for sure is this: emotionally abusive partners consciously and deliberately set out to hurt, humiliate and control their partners.  They see that as the best way to go about satisfying their own emotional needs.  They see what they do as creating a relationship that satisfies their need for power and control over another human being.

So, the dilemma remains:  do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive?

And the answer is:

When women ask, “Do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive?” they’re asking the wrong question.

Emotionally abusive men don’t embrace your perspective and your values.  It’s like that old song: “you like tomatoes and I like tomaaatoes”: abusive men have a different  take on their behaviour.  They don’t honestly see anything wrong with it.  Even if they apologize at the time, their abiding memory will be of responding appropriately to your appalling behaviour.

In the end, an emotionally abusive man is always in the right, and his partner is always in the wrong.

Simple as that.

When women ask, “Do emotionally abusive men know they are abusive?” they blind themselves to the reality. Emotionally abusive men don’t care.  Think of an emotionally abusive relationship as some kind of crazy computer game:  Mr Abusive is the superhero who scores points by landing assaults (emotional and/or physical) on his partner.

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