Everytime I work with a woman who is in an abusive relationship she asks this question. It’s too easy to say “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just figure out what to do.” Because it does matter to her and hears why:
–Her self esteem is completely tied up in why this relationship didn’t work out and although logically she might acknowledge that he will never be happy no matter what she tries to do, she doesn’t FEEL that that is true.
–Our society tends to blame her for getting involved with such a man. Despite the fact that men don’t start relationships by saying “Hi, I’m abusive.” She must be weak. She must like playing the victim. She must be passive. She is trying to understand what she ever did to end up in this place.
–He is unpredictable and contradicts himself constantly. “I want you home. I want you to work. I want you to like my friends. I don’t want you to speak to my friends. I need all of your attention. Get out of my house. It’s confusing. And she’s confused because any decision she has made during this relationship has been twisted around and her confidence in her own judgment is undermined.
–While he sometimes pretends to be stupid, he’s also a brilliant manipulator. She’s never sure of his motives. Never sure of what he wants. What kind of person would do things this mean, this underhanded, and yet sometimes act so loving? Is he making mistakes that hurt or does he do these things because he really wants to hurt someone?
There are answers. Most of them will come with time, distance, and education. With talking to other women. With identifying and naming behaviors and examining intentions. Some take time to sink in.
–He is incredibly insecure. He will do anything to keep you because of his fear of being abandoned. He’ll try different tactics to keep you.
–These behaviors have worked for him all his life to get him what he wants. With his mother, sisters, teachers, girlfriends. This is how he knows how to be in this world. If he wants you to beg to stay, he will start a fight and throw you out on the street with nowhere to go. If he wants you to distance yourself from friends he will tell you how terribly they think of you. When he doesn’t get what he wants he’ll throw a huge tantrum, because you’ll decide it’s easier to pacify than to fight.
–Yes, he is that smart and that stupid at the same time. Start to believe your own judgment, listen to what your gut is telling you. When you think, he wouldn’t do that. He just did. Stand back and watch the patterns work their way through over and over again. This is his own cycle. He will keep doing these things over and over again because this is what he does.
Men become abusers because they can. Because it works for them. Because they can’t live with the uncertainty that the other person could leave at any moment, as in any relationship. It’s safer (in their heads) to keep you a prisoner of war, confused, scared, unable to leave, than to be loving and kind and have you be free to make whatever decision you want to make.
I don’t remember why I felt like writing this today. Half the hits for my blog are about this topic. And this topic continues in my own life. It’s scarier for me when he’s in a friendly, let’s just get along phase. Then I know that something is up and it’s not going to be pretty. That’s when I really step back and wait before I agree to anything. There is always some kind of game being played, even in the times when he’s all nice about something. Sometimes it’s only later that I find out he was screwing me all along, but it’s just another abusive tactic.
I have to go run some tax numbers and then I’ll be able to give you some specifics about what he wants this time.