Thursday, January 18, 2007

wise words from Lundy

Hello! I've missed you, blog. I've been busy in the last couple of weeks. Therapy has been intense, work is crazy-busy, I started a poetry class that is really great, and I turned 35! I have a lot to write about, but little time to do it in. I do want to follow up on my last post, though.

My bad relationship list has a lot of commonalities with lists in Why Does He Do That?, and since Lundy Bancroft is the expert on bad relationships, the following is excerpted from his book. If you have been in abusive relationships in the past and are worried that you don't know how to avoid another one, or if you suspect or know you are in an abusive relationship currently, I highly recommend this book. Your intuition and experience is your best guide, but one of the worst things about abuse is it causes you to doubt your own perceptions, feelings, and intuition. It takes time to learn to trust yourself, but in the meantime, knowledge is power. This book is an eye-opener.

Why Does He Do That? : Inside the minds of angry and controlling men by Lundy Bancroft; New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2002.

"How can I tell if a man I'm seeing will become abusive?

He speaks disrespectfully about his former partners.
A certain amount of anger and resentment toward an ex-partner is normal, but beware of the man who is very focused on his bitterness or who tells you about it inappropriately early on in your dating. Be especially cautious of the man who talks about women from his past in degrading or condescending ways or who characterizes himself as a victim of abuse by women. Be alert if he says that his previous wife or girlfriend falsely accused him of being abusive; the great majority of reports of abuse are accurate...

He is disrespectful toward you.
If a man puts you down or sneers at your opinions, if he is rude to you in front of other people, if he is cutting or sarcastic, he is communicating a lack of respect. Disrespect also can take the form of idealizing you and putting you on a pedestal as a perfect woman or goddess. The man who worships you in this way is not seeing you; he is seeing his fantasy, and when you fail to live up to that image he may turn nasty. So there may not be much difference between the man who talks down to you and the one who elevates you; both are displaying a failure to respect you as a real human being...

He does favors for you that you don’t want or puts on such a show of generosity that it makes you uncomfortable.
These can be signs of a man who is attempting to create a sense of indebtedness…

He is controlling.
...Control usually begins in subtle ways, far from anything you would call abuse. He drops comments about your clothes or your looks (too sexy or not sexy enough); is a little negative about your family or one of your good friends; starts to pressure you to spend more time with him; starts to give too much advice about how you should manage your own life and shows a hint of impatience when you resist his recommendations; or begins to act bothered that you don't share all of his opinions about politics, personal relationships, music, or other tastes.

He is possessive.
...Jealous feelings are not the same as behaviors. A man with some insecurities may naturally feel anxious about your associations with other men, especially ex-partners, and might want some reassurance. But if he indicates that he expects you to give up your freedom to accommodate his jealousy, control is creeping up. Your social life shouldn't have to change because of his insecurities...

Nothing is ever his fault...

He is self-centered...

He abuses drugs or alcohol...

He pressures you for sex.
...Not respecting your wishes or feelings regarding sex speaks of exploitativeness, which in turn goes with abuse. It also is a sign of seeing women as sex objects rather than human beings...

He gets serious too quickly about the relationship.
Because so many men are commitment-phobic, a woman can feel relieved to find a partner who isn't afraid to talk about marriage and family. But watch out if he jumps too soon into planning your future together without talking enough time to get to know you and grow close, because it can mean that he's trying to wrap you up tightly into a package that he can own...

He intimidates you when he's angry.
...The more deeply involved you become with an intimidating man, the more difficult it will be to get out of the relationship...getting away from someone who has become frightening is much more complicated than most people realize, and it gets harder with each day that passes. Don't wait around to see.

He has double standards.
Beware of the man who has a different set of rules for his behavior than for yours...

He has negative attitudes towards women...

He treats you differently around other people...

He appears to be attracted to vulnerability.
I have had quite a number of clients over the years who are attracted to women who are vulnerable because of recent traumatic experiences in their lives, including many who have started relationships by helping a women break away from an abusive partner and then start to control or abuse her themselves. Some abusive men seek out a woman who comes from a troubled or abusive childhood, who has health problems, or who has suffered a recent severe loss, and present themselves as rescuers...At the same time, I have observed that there are plenty of abusive men who are not particularly attracted to vulnerability or neediness in women and who are more drawn to tougher or more successful women. This style of abuser appears to feel that he has caught a bigger fish if he can reel in an accomplished, self-confident women to dominate." (pages 114-121)

"Since abuse can sneak up on a woman, beginning with subtle control or disrespect that gains intensity over time, some burning questions emerge: How do I know when my partner is being abusive? Is there a distinct line that I can keep my eye on, so that I know when he has crossed it? How much is too much? Since nobody's perfect, how do I know the difference between a bad day when he's just being a jerk and a pattern that adds up to something more serious?

...The term abuse is about power; it means that a person is taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit or control someone else. Wherever power imbalances exist, such as between men and women, or adults and children, or between rich and poor, some people will take advantage of those circumstances for their own purposes...Thus the defining point of abuse is when the man starts to exercise power over the woman in a way that causes harm to her and creates a privileged status for him.

The lines where subtler kinds of mistreatment end and abuse begins include the following actions:

He retaliates against you for complaining about his behavior...

He tells you that your objections to his mistreatment are your own problem...

He gives apologies that sound insincere or angry, and he demands that you accept them...

He blames you for the impact of his behavior.
...If your partner criticizes or puts you down for being badly affected by his mistreatment, that's abuse. Similarly, it's abuse when he uses the effects of his cruelty as an excuse, like a client I had who drove his partner away with his verbal assaults and then told her that her emotional distancing was causing his abuse, thus reversing cause and effect. He is kicking you when you're already down, and he knows it. Seek help for yourself quickly, as this kind of psychological assault can cause your emotional state to rapidly decline.

It's never the right time, or the right way, to bring things up...

He undermines your progress in life.
Interference with your freedom or independence is abuse...

He denies what he did...

He justifies his hurtful or frightening acts or says that you "made him do it"...

He touches you in anger or puts you in fear in other ways.
Physical aggression by a man toward his partner is abuse, even if it happens only once. If he raises a fist; punches a hole in the wall; throws things at you; blocks your way; restrains you; grabs, pushes, or pokes you; or threatens to hurt you, that's physical abuse. He is creating fear and using your need for physical freedom and safety as a way to control you. Call a hot line as soon as possible if any of these things happens to you...

I am often asked whether physical aggression by women toward men, such as a slap in the face, is abuse. The answer is: "It depends." Men typically experience women's shoves or slaps as annoying and infuriating rather than intimidating, so the long-term emotional effects are less damaging. It is rare to find a man who has gradually lost his freedom or self-esteem because of a woman's aggressiveness. I object to any form of physical aggression in relationships except for what is truly essential for self-defense, but I reserve the word abuse for situations of control or intimidation...

He coerces you into having sex or sexually assaults you.
...Studies indicate that women who are raped by intimate partners suffer even deeper and longer-lasting effects than those who are raped by strangers or nonintimate acquaintances. If you have experienced sexual assault or chronic sexual pressure in your relationship, call an abuse hotline or a rape hotline, even if you don't feel that the term rape applies to what your partner did.

His controlling, disrespectful, or degrading behavior is a pattern...

You show signs of being abused...
Are you afraid of him?
Are you getting distant from friends or family because he makes those relationships difficult?
Is your level of energy and motivation declining, or do you feel depressed?
Is your self-opinion declining, so that you are always fighting to be good enough and to prove yourself?
Do you find yourself constantly preoccupied with the relationship and how to fix it?
Do you feel like you can't do anything right?
Do you feel like the problems in your relationship are all your fault?
Do you repeatedly leave arguments feeling like you've been messed with but can't figure out exactly why?" (pages 123-130)

Why Does He Do That? has advice on how to get away from an abuser; information I wish I would have had 4 years ago.

I'll write a more personal blog post as soon as I have a chance. I have been making progress in treatment, and reading a lot. I have a lot to write about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Reading this entry has helped me heal also from my abusive relationship with two separate men.

I could give countless personal examples of to each of these "warning signs" that Ms. Lundy has given. I have either heard these words spoken or experienced each one of the affects.

Both of them had the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde personality. They were charming, supportive, loving at their "best". Knew exactly what to say. At another turn, they were abusive, liars and unreliable. They would lure me in and then ignore me coldly. The "silent treatment".

They only love themselves. Everyone else that comes into their lives plays into their "act".

How I knew both of them were abusers? I could tell by looking in their eyes. Their intense, brown, beady eyes told me everything.

I can't imagine the abuse they both endured as children to create their need for abusive drama.

A bastards drama never ends. Not until he's dead.

Luckily, I don't have to suffer until my death with them. I know better than to have Sympathy for the Devil.

I know never to try to save them but save myself through therapy, time, spirituality and "letting go".

Sadly, if I were to still see the first one, my first love, I would fall apart. He still has an affect on me that I am still not able to deny. It took me many, many years to recover from the depression/insanity I went through after he married another.

The second one I knew was abusive even before I dated him. He told me all sorts of stories about his relationship with his ex-wife. He painted the picture that he was the "victim" and he did nothing wrong. Complete bs.

I still envision his face in photos and know still he is abusive to every women he meets and dates. I see myself on the outside and appreciates my being a "victim". He knows what he is and will never, ever attempt to change.

I still dated him, slept with him, and allow him to use me. That is what hurts the most. I let down my defenses and him "in" to my life.

I think mostly I am attracted to these men because I have experienced depression and have low confidence. For moments with these men, I have the confidence that they are interested, "in love" and ready for a real realtionship. So when they "change" I realize it is just a mind game and a phisod.

You can never admit too many personal triumphs and struggles to them. They abuse and manipulate any personal admittance of weakness.

For a long time, when I saw them with their new wives and daughters, I felt again the intensity of the lies and abuse I had endured. It is hard on the outside looking in, being made to feel worthless and used knowing they are making the women they married to feel loved and adored.

Funny how neither of their marriages to these women lasted. Of course my "marriage" to them wouldn't have lasted either. And it always the women's fault but their own.

It is an even longer process to forgive oneself and recover from abuse. Even in my moments in weakness I know I am strong enough to live through it.

It's difficult to be in the abyss of loneliness. Even harder to live with it while being with an abuser.

Thank God for the promises of the Lord and true healing. He loved me enough not allow me to marry either of them. He gave me the wisdom, Kristina, to see the warning signs.