Real Men Don’t Hit Women iii

07 Oct 2011

 Real men don’t hit women.  And they don’t use words to hurt, humiliate, diminish, or reject them, either.

Abusive men do.

Enotionally abusive men can – and do – systematically smash women to pieces without ever raising their hand.

When emotional abuse happens to you, more often than not it seems to be a spontaneous outpouring of fury on the part of the abuser.

But is it?

That’s highly unlikely given the almost formulaic messages all abusive men come up with.

There is the playground stuff that is the stock-in-trade of all abusive men which includes insults like: “You’re fat”, “You’re stupid”, “You’re ugly”, “Nobody likes you”, “I was going to (do something nice with you) but I won’t now”!

They are formulaic in the way they talk about women: they dislike most women -except, maybe, the intelligent ones they don’t see in a sexual way at all – and they leer, and lech, unashamedly, in front of you, at the ones they do find attractive.

There is the sexual rejection which conforms to this kind of pattern: “I just don’t find you attractive anymore”, or “You may still look attractive [to people who don’t know what you’re like], but you don’t excite me any more.  Quite the reverse.”

There are the unfavorable comparisons: “Why can’t you be like….?” [You can bet he never sits down and asks himself: “Why can’t I look like Brad Pitt?  Or have the gracious manners of Prince William? Or get a decent job like…? etc. etc.] 

There is his unerring instinct for finding, and exploiting, your emotional weakness.  He’ll say: “You’re a lousy mother.  The kids don’t respect you.  You’re a lousy wife.  You’re a lousy sexual partner.”

There are the threats: “You can’t give me what I want.  So, I’m going to find someone else who will.”  [Does he ever ask himself about giving you what you want???!]

There’s the whole crazy-making routine.  Emotionally abusive partners have a great talent for making you doubt your own sanity.  They do this in any number of ways.  They’ll tell you something happened in a very different way to the way you experienced it – the difference, of course, is that in their version of reality what you did, or didn’t do, looks far worse.  They’ll accuse you of doing things you didn’t do.  They’ll make promises, and when you act on them, they’ll deny they “ever said that”.  They’ll tell you black is white, if they have to, to confound your sense of reality.  They’ll tell you that you said things you would never say.

They will act like your very own personal Hanging Judge.  There is no such thing as a “small mistake”, or a “genuine misunderstanding” where an abusive man is concerned.  Everything you do wrong is a deliberate, and serious, assault, and must be punished accordingly.  He won’t say it but he absolutely LOVES to punish you.

They have anger and/or sulking issues.  An abusive man is quick to embrace a grudge.  He shows NO self-control when it comes to visiting his feelings on you.  He will cheerfully call you all the filthy names under the sun.  Or he may choose not to talk to you for hours, days, or even longer – which, actually, is a manifestation of considerable self-control.

They are inconsistent and unpredictable.  Today you may be able to talk, almost freely about something with them, tomorrow it is a trigger for another abusive outburst.

They tell you that you are “too sensitive” when you object to their little “jokes” at your expense, or their rejections, or criticisms, or “remarks”, or comparisons, or etc. etc.

They are consistently negative about you.  Even if they say something that could be halfway complimentary, it isn’t.  Either they will damn you with faint praise, or else they will find a way of relating the (semi-)positive thing to a bigger negative, so as to completely invalidate the positive, as in: “You may be good at your job, but you can’t cook a decent meal”, or “Yes, you look nice, but how come you….?”

They practice a reign of terror with you.  You never know when they will next find fault with you.  Curiously, it always seems to happen when you’ve been feeling a little closer, a little more comfortable with them.  That’s no coincidence, it happens by design.

They constantly remind you that they are wonderful, and you are not.  Their thinking is very hierarchical: they are at the very top of the hierarchy, you are at the very bottom, and there may – or may not – be a few other people in between.

They feel very, very sorry for themselves.  Listen to an abusive man for any length of time at all, and he will tell you his hard luck story.  His hard luck story may be a difficult childhood, horrible women who treated him badly, or A Hard Life – or all of the above.  Most abusers have hard a much harder time than you have… in their own mind, at least.  They don’t expect you to forget that.

They are unkind, and show little empathy.  It’s not that they are incapable of empathy.  It’s more the case that they don’t think you are worth it.  In fact…

They treat you like you are worthless.  It doesn’t matter if you are ill, exhausted, bereaved, or whatever; your role is to serve them, uncomplainingly.  

Real men don’t behave like that. 

The temptation is to try and turn an abusive man into a real man by lavishing your love and your powers of persuasion on him.  It’s a thankless task.  It doesn’t work.  If you are with an abusive man, you are not in a relationship.  He does not feel any duty of care towards you.  You can’t change that.  

Real men don’t need to be changed, tweaked, and educated into proper behaviour.  They already know how to behave decently.  An abusive man is never going to learn that from you.


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.

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