Skip to main content

The psychology of an abuser.


The psychology of an abuser.[1]

The abusive man (ABM) is passionate about his rights. He has the ability to be very soothing, caring, and loving toward his children, and he can be a very intelligent person. The one thing that sets him apart from others is his intense passion for what he thinks is his rightful possession. The ABM is not a loveless person who is detached from reality, nor does he stonewall people of importance over a disagreement. He is emboldened when he perceives something to be a threat. The threats vary for the ABM, but it mostly centers around a possible loss of respect. He seeps himself in the hypothetical. He’ll say, “If she does this, I’ll lose her. And if I lose her, I’ll have nothing.” He doesn’t start with a physical beating but with a warning or a stare. “Don’t do that again. Ever.” Sometimes the wife will catch on, but being human, she’s bound to make a “mistake.” Eventually she does and he feels compelled to teach her a “lesson.” He beats her up. He never wanted to per se and immediately feels guilty for this. But the ABM feels it necessary in order to keep the relationship alive. Eventually, the wife “repents” and comes back to him. Sometimes she grovels. Other times it’s slow. This time she’ll “do better.” The ABM lets go of his guilt because his wife has come back to him, and in a sense, he justifies his abuse because after all, “She’s returned!” he says to himself. On and on this abuse continues.

Our political environment.

I’m a therapist, and when I see the violence in this country, I try to see it through the lens of my practice and field. Why do people feel the need to attack or abuse other people? It’s saddening to say this, but many of the people that are emboldened remind me a lot of the abusive husband. They are passionate about a cause. They are passionate about victims, they can be loving, they have reasonable arguments and are intelligent. But, like the abusive husband, they see a threat and they’re passionate about what they see as their rightful possession. The rioters were not loveless people ‘detached’ from reality. They are reality and they define it. They’re not concerned about disagreement, because this threat for them is real. If you question them, it means you’re not taking their threat seriously. Like the abusive husband, they seep themselves in the hypothetical. “If they do this, we will see more racism.” “If people are allowed to speak, more threat will continue.” On and on their thinking, goes. First, comes a warning. Then comes the cut-off. And eventually there’s an attack. They don’t want to do it, so they reason with themselves, “Oh, the other side was just so evil and we had to teach them a lesson.” So, they beat them up. These people may go home apologetic, but their emboldened friends, their media, their support confirms that their violence was justified. “This is the way they come back” or “This is the way our threat is alleviated.” On and on this abuse continues.

Let’s try to agree with what makes us different.

I speak to everyone here. Nazis, white supremacists, Antifa, the hard-left, and the alt-right hate one thing: the freedom to speak. They cannot accept this premise because it assumes that the threat is only hypothetical and may be off-based. That doesn’t mean there are not threats! The opposite of an ABM is a neglectful man who prefers avoidance. Nevertheless, the freedom to speak assumes that you’re not always right and that your assumptions may be in need of correction. Yet, this is unacceptable to people or groups who are polarized. So, what do we do with this? If you revert to violence to stifle speech, then you may be better than a Nazi, but you may be no better than a wife-beating abuser. The wife-beater is afraid that if his wife speaks, she'll "rebel, go too far, or become hateful" toward him. If this is the premise of your politic, please reconsider your assumptions. After all, the minute the abuser allows his wife to speak is the minute he stops abusing.





[1] I use the third person singular male voice to make things smoother and simplify the concept I’m trying to get across. This can apply to women as well.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Identity Politics and Dealing with Racism in the Church

My personal history dealing with racism.
The church has experienced its share of significant racism within her walls. In contrast to other great experiences in the South regarding racial reconciliation, I still remember preaching at a church in Mississippi and getting into a serious altercation with one of the elders. Before my sermon, I spoke to a lovely black lady who happened to be cleaning in the church basement (something that was common in many white churches). I had a delightful conversation with her, but I could tell she was suspicious and a little guarded. I was inured enough in the racism in Mississippi, especially the town I was visiting, to know that a white man doesn’t often spark conversations with black females sporadically unless there’s an unstated agenda. I eased her by telling her a joke about how nervous I was preaching and how my wife and I are looking forward to moving to Boston—we were “Yankees at heart.” She looked at me with restrained excitement and said, “Oh…

Losing A Debate: Old and New.

I love to debate.
I miss my old friends from my undergraduate years. One fond memory is going to Todd’s General Store outside of Boone, NC, listen to bluegrass, while eating MoonPies, and then going outside on their big back porch to smoke some cigars or pipes while looking at the stars. Sigh. It was marvelous. During those times, we’d often debate ideas. Sometimes it was abortion, small vs. big government, differences between men and women, sexuality, pornography, parenting, you name it. Sometimes it was very heated, but it never reverted to name calling. It was not personal, but it was about the debate itself. If your argument was sound, consistent, and you presented it well, you’d drive home feeling quite victorious and confident. If there was illogical reasoning to your point or if you presented it unfairly, my friends were pretty good at noticing and would jump on your argument. You then went home feeling discouraged, but not defeated. You were disappointed in yourself, but not i…