Abusive men hold a very black and white view of the world. Theirs is a world of contrasts.
You already know this for yourself because your abusive partner invariably come out with pronouncements like these:
“I’m right; you’re wrong.”
“People respect me; they despise you.”
“You’re a lousy mother; I’m a wonderful father.”
“You’re crazy, I’m sane; and normal.”
“You’re too sensitive; I’m completely justified in what I say and I do.”
When you stop to think about it – and you do stop to think about it, don’t you? -the world of abusive men is a world of self-serving contrasts.
Ok, so you don’t stop to think about it. You’re too busy trying to defend yourself from their criticisms.
But if you were to stop to think about it, would you not see how you your abuser constantly paints you as black as tar so he can emerge, in his own eyes, at least, as white as freshly fallen snow.
Obviously, the accusations abusive men make feel very hurtful. That’s not surprising; they were intended to hurt you.
So, you start from your understanding of the world, and you ask yourself: “Why would he want to hurt me?”
The answer you come up with, predictably enough, is: “He wants to hurt me because I’m not good enough.”
Whoa! That’s a belief you have. It’s not necessarily true.
Were you to try and explain how you arrived at the conclusion that you’re not good enough (for him) you would notice a few steps you had taken in your thinking. Roughly speaking these steps are:
- He’s hurting me.
- Why would he want to hurt me? He used to love me so much?
- Why doesn’t he love me like that any more?
- It must be my fault because I’m unlovable.
Now, this all makes sense – apparently – until you take a step back and think about it.
Just suppose he had stopped loving you. That would be a reason for him to walk away, rather than hanging round and hurting you, wouldn’t it?
And why would he have stopped loving you from one day to the next? You can blame it on anything you like from the way you look when you get up in the morning, to your general level of tidiness, the odd few pounds in weight you may have gained, the passage of time, or anything else he throws at you.
These things are just excuses he uses to explain his temper tantrums.
I’m not saying it’s not possible to fall out of love with someone. But that’s not what we are talking about here.
What is really happening is that your abusive partner has given himself the right to focus non-stop on your perceived failings. Those failings, he would argue, justify his ill treatment of you.
In reality, nothing justifies overlooking your strengths, your qualities, and the positive contribution you make to his life.
Because you aren’t perfect he feels he has a right to criticise, diminish, and reject you, at will. No woman would be perfect enough for him, because to be human is to be flawed. And that works well for him: until you are perfect, he will continue to feel justified in punishing you for your human frailty.
And, at some level, you accept his right to punish you.
Nothing justifies his ill treatment of you.
But he doesn’t have a problem with that: he will behave as badly as he can get away with behaving.
So, the bottom line is this: it isn’t personal.
Sure, it feels personal. Because it is happening to you, you conclude – reasonably enough – that it is about you.
It’s about him.
He treats you badly because of the belief he holds that his partner in an intimate relationship doesn’t deserve respect. In his world, women don’t deserve respect. He doesn’t like or value them.
Now, if your abusive partner belongs to the womanizing subcategory of abusers, you may find that hard to believe. Some abusive men are womanizers. Some, like my wasband, are monogamous.
The womanizing subcategory of abusers uses their extramarital activities to massage their hungry egos; the monogamous subcategory does not. It doesn’t mean that the womanizers like women any better, or that the egos of the monogamous are any less hungry.
Ultimately, both subcategories see women as sexual objects, and loathe their perceived needs and demands.
They had ingrained prejudices around women long before they met you.
If you listened to them talk about their previous relationship history, they probably told you that previous partners were ‘bitches’ who treated them badly. Most likely, they still harbour anger and resentment towards previous partners. They ‘groomed’ you, insofar as they could, by letting you know the kind of behaviors they don’t view kindly. They let you know, early on, that your wants, needs, values, dreams, and ambitions came a very poor second to yours.
In short, they just aren’t that into women – which is why they aren’t into you. They don’t celebrate the strengths, qualities and differences of women, because they don’t like women. They really don’t like them.
They just need someone to fill a space in their life – someone who will defer to them, make excuses for them, idealize them, and tolerate any amount of ill treatment. That space is, by definition, female shaped.
You either fitted that space, or could be shoehorned into that space. And, since you assumed that it was a love-based relationship, and he was that into you, you believed the space he accorded you was much, much bigger than was really on offer.
That was your misfortune.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.