Friday, December 5, 2014

“BUT I LET HIM DO IT”



            When people picture an abusive or controlling man, they imagine him yelling, threatening, or attacking with his fists. These images do capture one aspect of the experience of a woman who has a destructive partner, but at the same time they leave so much out. 
           They particularly miss one of the most insidious forms of relationship poison, which is when the man relentlessly – but not necessarily loudly -- badgers, criticizes, pressures, and guilt-trips the woman until she gives in. This kind of vise-grip approach, where he just keeps tightening up the pressure until she can’t take it, is especially common regarding sex, but it comes about other issues as well.
            Why is this pressure so toxic? One of the key reasons is that the woman comes out blaming herself. Over and over again, women say to me, “Well, I let him get away with it,” or, “I was stupid to put up with it.” Her partner has made her feel that she made a voluntary choice, so she feels responsible for causing her own harm to herself.
            But the decision wasn’t voluntary at all. You are not making a free choice if it follows an unending barrage of verbal pushing. And this is even more true when that pushing includes insults and guilt-tripping. This style of man is sending the message that you are bad and that you are inferior if you don’t give in to his demands.
            And there usually is a threat, even if he isn’t openly saying that he is going to hurt you. He is often sending the message that he is going to be cold or mean to you for days to come if he doesn’t get his way – because that’s what he’s done in the past when you haven’t given in. Or he may get it across that he is going to cheat on you if don’t do what he is telling you to do. Threats don’t have to be overt to be powerful.
            You are not a voluntary participant when you have been bullied into doing things that you didn’t believe you should have to do. And when a man bullies you into sexual contact that you didn’t want, or into a specific sexual act that you didn’t want, that’s sexual assault not lovemaking.

(This post is based on an entry from Lundy's forthcoming book "Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?: Encouragement for Women Involved with Angry and Controlling Men", which will be released by Berkley Books (Penguin) on April 7, 2015.)

16 comments:

  1. Lovely to see a new post, Lundy. Look forward to the book and wishing you all good things. . .

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  2. Such a good article ~ am anxious to read Lundy Bancroft's new book! Great explanation about how damaging verbal; emotional; spiritual abuse can be ~ sadly we see this happening over and over and over again in MANY households today ~ where men (and sometimes women) are wrongly interpreting God's Word to abuse their wives (and husbands in some cases!) Saddest thing of all, though, is to see the victim being blamed by so-called 'Christians' ~ pastors, church members, and family misinterpret scripture verses to shame and blame the victim; forcing him (or her) to stay in the abusive environment; often wounding and damaging children in the home. So very, very sad.

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  3. I need to tell you Mr. Bancroft how much your book helped me. I have purchased many copies and all are given away to women in similar situations. Thank you.

    Your book helped me back to me. It let me see that I wasn't nuts, I was seeing what I thought I saw. It helped me mentally fight back. I could stand outside a 'scene' and be an observer instead of its victim. The sky really is blue! Not green as I had for so long been told.

    I'm still one foot in and one out. I know danger lays in the last act... I still reread your book when I need strength. I'm going to make it out...soon.

    Thank you for your faithfulness to all of us.

    D

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    1. Wondering, Abby, if you are out now?

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    2. Wondering, Abby, if you are out now?

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  4. My ex bullied and "guilted" me into giving him another chance after six years apart. He showed up at my house, called me incessantly, showed up at my job to pick me up, bought me expensive gifts, begged, implied that he would kill himself, stopped taking care of himself, begged for sex constantly, and just made me feel very, very bad for him. He told me how he had changed and how everything was his fault. He showed willingness to talk about his past abuse and cheating which were always off limits before. He wanted to do the things I liked instead of telling me those things were stupid. He did seem different. I had long since fallen out of love, and my worst fear during those years apart was that he would somehow drag me back into the relationship. It was my nightmare come true, and it worked. I had just started my first relationship after all those years, and it was going well. I was really happy, but he told me he would kill the guy, so I ended it. I was getting increasingly frightened because my ex told me how his life was worthless, and he knew he was a terrible person and didn't care what happened to himself. He begged until I gave in - a combination of fear, guilt, confusion, duty, and exhaustion. Two years later - he has slowly reverted to his old behaviors and ways of thinking. He hasn't assaulted me because he knows I will call the police, but he still intimidates me somehow. He makes me feel terrible that I "don't love him" or appreciate him. I told him that he couldn't come over drunk, late at night anymore, and he says I'm putting a curfew on him. Whenever i try to set a boundary like that, he makes it sound like I am saying something utterly ridiculous or trying to control him. When I get angry and try to talk to him about a grievance I have, he tells that I'm only trying to make him feel bad, trying to control him, "cutting his balls off", or just plain imagining it because I'm paranoid. I have a lot of grievances and find myself angry with him a lot. I have started to question myself sometimes and wonder if I am the abusive one now? I question if I "made" him revert to his old behavior by not accepting the overwhelming and uncomfortable "love" he was offering me, though I know I couldn't accept his love because I never wanted it in the first place and was bullied into this relationship. I have started therapy at a counseling center for abused women, but my counselor says that I must be getting something out of the relationship, or I would have ended it. I don't know what it is except that I can keep a better eye on him around our kids and partially alleviate the guilt I feel for him being so miserable. I have finally gotten to the point where I can tolerate sex with him a little, but it always feels uncomfortable and wrong to me - I don't know why. At first it felt like rape, but I had consented (after constant guilt and begging). When we were together, he used to withhold sex and I always pursued him. I'm a mess!

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    1. I am so sorry that happened to you. It wasn't your fault. Giving in to coercion is not consent. You are not a mess, just a human being reacting to a messed up situation. It is all him, not you.

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    2. Oh my....ANY counselor who tells you 'you must be getting something out of that type of relationship', is certainly NOT the type of council you need babe xx ANY one who gives you reason to think you may benefit from staying in a relationship of this dynamic, does not know what they're dealing with or talking about. Find a new therapist. Someone who specializes in DV and/or mental health/personality disorders.

      And most of all, trust your SELF! You will know xx

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  5. I have yet to find a victim of intimate partner violence who has gotten enough distance and done enough healing work to see the tactics and dynamics of the abuse clearly who didn't relate stories of sexual abuse and assault from their perpetrator.

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  6. Thanks a lot. I come from an ultra orthodox comunity. You halped me give myself a "title" to what happend to me and to my 5 kids. Not any more. I'm on my way to get my divorce now... i did a long way till today. And my way is still very long and twissted... but thank god... he's with me. I'm strong... and i will make it! Not just for me... but for my kids too.

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  7. I really thank you for the book "Why does hi do that". On Russian language translated several chapters. Your book helped me to understand what is happening in my family and why I 6 months was sick. Thank you so much, you saved my life and my time.
    With great respect, Hanna

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  8. I really thank you for the book "Why does hi do that". On Russian language translated several chapters. Your book helped me to understand what is happening in my family and why I 6 months was sick. Thank you so much, you saved my life and my time.
    With great respect, Hanna

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