I happen to take part in conversations where women usually make up all the excuses in their world in order to cover up for their husbands’ bad temper or aggressive behaviour. It usually goes something like this: ‘he is working too much and he is under a lot of stress’, ‘maybe it’s my fault for being able to feel very intimate with him lately’, ‘but he always buys me presents in the end’, ‘he didn’t mean it, he apologised’ – the list is endless.
On the other hand, you get the men, in this case, because women are also capable of being abusive, who are totally lost in this sick circle of emotional, mental and physical abuse that has ended up feeling and being a normal reaction to their lives’ circumstances. ‘If only she listened to me rather than keep ignoring what I say’, ‘she gets me so jealous, what am I supposed to do?’, ‘she must be doing this on purpose, she knows very well what gets me mad’, ‘am I just meant to sit back and take this?’ , ‘she always has male friends, she knows I don’t like that’ etc, etc.
An abusive man sees himself as a victim, as the one who is being traumatised. He blames other people, mostly the ones closer to him, for the way he is feeling and acting. He tends to recycle distorted thoughts of reality inside his head; that his partner is treating him unfairly. He then verbalises his abuse making his partner feel like she is always doing something wrong and that she is too weak and hopeless to fix the situation.
After years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse, the woman is left mentally and psychologically drained, desperate, depressed and is filled with emotions of low self-esteem, and self-hatred. ‘He locks onto these thoughts, a form of tunnel vision, where in his sense of self-righteousness her needs become invisible. She becomes the enemy. And like all enemies, she loses her humanity and becomes someone who needs to be punished for “making him” feel bad.’
He might be a good friend and a trusted colleague. He might be a person who makes everyone laugh and people enjoy his company. Still, he will deliberately use tactics of power and control over his partner. This man makes a choice – he chooses to be violent, aggressive and abusive when he is feeling out of control, angry or bad. Rodney Vlais from ‘The Guardian’ says: ‘us men need to identify how we feed sexism and gender inequalities, and how we comply with rigid stories of what it means to be a man – stories based on putting down and dehumanising the “other” through defining ourselves based on what we are not … not feminine, not gay, not someone with any hint of gender diversity and fluidity.’
Violence against women is never excusable and is always an individual choice.
Men: don’t be silent when you see abusive behaviour toward women or hear comments that perpetuate misogyny. Don’t put off seeking help if you need it.
Women: Speak up!
National Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 737 732 or Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491