June 24th, 2014 13:27 EST
Men Are Abused Too!!!
Abuse towards men is not a common topic of discussion, but one that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
Women who are abusive toward men more commonly use verbal, emotional, and psychological
aggression in order to control the relationship. To get their way abusive women may be
controlling, suspicious, jealous, possessive, moody, blaming, and unaffectionate.
These women may resort to name-calling, speaking down to their partner, blaming everyone and
everything except self, attacking the man`s nature or character, insulting and demeaning him,
playing mind games, making him feel guilty and crazy, and belittling him at home, in public, or in front of family and friends. (Tracy, 2012).
These women tend to experience episodes of depression, anxiety, frustration, and irritability, which they attribute to a man`s behavior. They will blame the man rather than admit their problems, take responsibility for how they live their lives, or do something about how they make themselves unhappy. (Wright, 2005).
Men who are abused are violated by having their self-esteem and sense of masculinity diminished and destroyed. A man may feel he is living inauthentically because in public his partner makes everything appear picture perfect, but behind closed doors when no one is around the truth is revealed.
Due to this a man may become vigilant, walk on egg-shells, and over-compensate because he never knows what may trigger her. He may doubt himself, remain in the relationship, and try harder to appease the women.
Although exact numbers are not known due to a under reporting, it is estimated that: Forty percent of cases involve violence of women against men (Tracy, 2012). Men who experience abuse often experience: Guilt, shame, bewilderment, alienation, and fear of loss and judgment if the relationship was to end (Solanki, 2011). Abused men may feel responsible and have an unrealistic belief that he can and should do something that will make things better (Domestic, 2013). These men tend to sacrifice and suppress their own natural human needs, wants, and desires to rationalize remaining in the relationship, while internalizing their feelings to continue an unsatisfying life experience without fulfillment.
If children are involved, the above feelings may be intensified, leaving the man fearful that he may not be able to see his children or fearful that his partner or wife will convince his children he is a bad person (Domestic, 2013). Unfortunately, this is another way in which a woman can control a relationship, and men may rationalize remaining in a relationship in which they are not getting their needs met. However, with the rise in separation and divorce rates, a new blending family dynamic is being created that may help foster a healthy environment with in which to raise children. Psychotherapist Dr. Benjamin Tong (2014) stated: Children survive divorce, almost always better than those who grow up in homes with parents who are silently or openly miserable around each other. Divorced parents committed to raising their kids in separate environments provide a much healthier alternative than the irresponsible ones who use the children as an excuse for avoiding loneliness or the judgment of failure.
The fact is that men in abusive relationships need to acknowledge and accept that: Abuse is a learned characteristic and is deeply ingrained in the partner or wife`s personality, and he cannot just ignore it or wish it away. Mentally and emotionally abused men who have not yet experienced physical abuse or battery, must not downplay or minimize the abuse in their hearts and minds (Lin, 2010). Another thing men may want to consider is their partner or wife`s relationship development style. If she builds relationships with her partner or husband in this manner, will it continue to her children? Will the cycle be passed to another generation? A man who is in an unhealthy relationship hoping their partner or wife will change and the relationship will become healthy is unrealistic: The chances that women abusers will change their abusive behaviors and attitudes toward the men in their lives are slim to none (Lin, 2010). There is a standard cycle that occurs in an unhealthy, abusive relationship that consists of four phases: abuse, reconciliation, calm, and tension-building. Like any cycle, it is continuously repeated until someone ends the cycle by leaving the relationship. The specifics of each phase in the abuse cycle are:
Abuse, emotional, mental, psychological, and/or physical. Reconciliation, abuser apologizes and promises it won`t happen again; she may blame the man or deny or minimize the abuse. Calm, no abuse is taking place and some promises are made during this phase, some needs are being met, and the man begins to have false hopes. Tension-building, minor incidents begin, communication breaks down again, the man feels the need to keep her calm, tension becomes too much again and he is back walking on egg-shells. Finally, the cycle continues around to the `Abuse` phase again (Lin, 2010).
As part of the interview the following question was asked: Do men know when they are being manipulated and controlled? Europe, who has successfully left an abusive relationship cycle, answered: You ask if men know when they are being manipulated and controlled.....of course they do. They aren`t stupid, but the brain has a great way of making excuses and rationalizing unacceptable behavior in loved ones. The other person`s behavior becomes difficult to understand, yet we will say all the usual excuses ...They have a lot going on They`re busy, They`re stressed, They`re depressed, They`re frustrated, They`re not in a good place, They`re right. Or we blame ourselves... Maybe I`m wrong, Maybe I could change, Maybe I could do better, Maybe I don`t understand. Or we start to agree with the other person... I do see their point, I can understand why they are being this way. I also think because of this rationalization the other person gets away with getting what they want; gains more and more control and get to do whatever they please. As men we don`t want to create a fuss.
We don`t want to be the overbearing arse who doesn`t take the other persons wishes, needs or emotions into consideration, but in doing this we lose grip of our own wants and needs and then they fall to second place....and we`ve lost the true chance of getting what we need and want. The cycle then repeats itself as we make excuses with ourselves, explaining away, rationalizing, and convincing ourselves we are doing the right thing, etc. The ugly side to control and manipulation then appears when we make a stand against this cycle...and say NO. We`re on the back foot. We`re then going against the norm. The other person is accustomed to getting their own way. To say no, then makes us the bad guy, giving them the leverage to call us unreasonable, unfair, unkind, whatever, and the ability to tear down whatever argument we may have. When this fails, then the anger creeps in, there`s little respect from the other persons side, so their attack will always be more verbally, emotionally or physically violent.
Coming from the one we love and respect, this is difficult to respond to. We don`t want to get into a verbal or physical brawl with a loved one. We want to believe they wouldn`t do that, we want to believe the relationship is better than that. We then compromise, we give in.....and so they win again.
It takes a lot to take a stand, say enough, and say no. It takes a lot to let go, but that moment arrives when clarity sets in, you`ve tried, and you just know what has to be done. I hope this answers your question (Europe, 2014).
Getting help: Unfortunately due to the lack of awareness, programs for abused men are almost nonexistent. However, private counseling and general anti-violence advocacy groups may be
helpful (Tracy, 2012). Recommendations from advocacy groups are to reach out and talk to friends and family about what is really happening. Getting out of the relationship is beneficial to
ones wellbeing, and calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline can help too. As for the children, men do have parental rights, and should seek legal counsel to advocate and negotiate the
One may be hesitant to leave because of the uncertainty of what may lie ahead or insecurity of anything healthier for them in the future, but one will never know unless they try. Remaining in an unhealthy relationship cycle will only continue the unhealthy pattern. Take the chance and move forward. Reach-out, stop suffering in silence, seek a healthy relationship,
and share your experience to help other men.
After I got out of the relationship, a few of my friends who are women admitted to knowing other girls who openly talk about "training" their boyfriends and husbands to have control of
the relationship by using: "sex, manipulation, and arguments" to get control and their way.
I remember being in a relationship where I was always worried about being in an argument that I didn`t want to be in. I would always purposely watch every little thing I did to ensure that
she wouldn`t have anything to start a fight over. I would also be careful to not say hi or talk to someone that she would be mad about. There was no way I could talk to other girls. It was like
I had to limit all my human contact to males. If we were out together and I ran into a friend who was female, I had to limit my conversation with her and make sure not to smile too much or laugh.
At times I knew an argument was coming. The whole night was ruined if I talked too long or laughed while talking to a girl. My ex would accuse me of being attracted to her, or just be upset the whole night because of it. I always felt like I was walking on egg shells, trying not to wake a sleeping monster. I hated arguing and fighting, I felt like I could not avoid it no matter what I did.
Additionally, I have great friendships with my guy friends. I really valued my time with them. Whenever I told her I was going to hang out with them, she wouldn`t want me too, and tried to have me stay with her instead. If I did end up getting to hang out with them, I was always getting texts and calls pressuring me to come home early. It got to the point where I was always anxious hanging out with my friends because I knew she would be mad if I wasn`t home at a certain time. I would always feel anxious and worried to ask her or tell her I was going to hang out with my friends. Finally I felt like it would be better off just not hanging out with my friends to avoid a fight. I felt like she was controlling who I could hang out with.
This would happen a lot if I wanted to golf or play basketball too. I always felt bad to let her know I was going to play because she got upset. She would say, "Why, I want to be with you,
I don`t want you too." At one point, it was like I had to ask permission to play. I don`t understand how a relationship gets to that point, where you have to ask and get permission to do something.
A lot of my guy friends say the same thing, "Oh, let me ask my girlfriend or wife if it`s ok." My friends have told me that they feel they can`t do anything anymore since they`re married.
~ West Coast
I believe I have saved myself, for a version of my life was unfolding before me I never envisaged for myself and wanted no part of. If you can relate to any of this story, or if any of it resonates with your own situation, get out sooner than later. I would like to pass on what a very dear friend and neighbor quietly whispered to me one day over a trayof epic home-baked cookies. You`ll know when the time is right. You`ll know what you have to do. When it comes, don`t wait, believe in yourself, and have faith that though it may take a while, it will only get better. I hear those words every day, and I know it`s the case.
Now let`s go back and see how things unfolded to the reality I find myself in today.
To start with let me say that I was married for 17yrs. Before proposing, I was sure to my core that I loved her and she was `the one`. I said my vows, I believed them, I wanted to live by them and uphold them. I tried my hardest, I worked at the marriage every day and a part of me believes I failed her and the marriage. In Jan 2012 I said I could not go
on and wanted it to be over.
We met in `91, when we were both young single and full of adventure. I was working in Scotland, she was travelling round Europe. We went out together for a few nights, got on like a house on fire, `clicked` and before going our separate ways, promised to stay in touch. Fast forward 4 years, we`ve not heard from each other, we`ve both had relationships that had come and gone. It was Christmas, I sent her a card. In Jan `95, I got a card back, phone calls and letters followed. We reconnected, the connection was there, and it felt strong and grew stronger. She came to Scotland a couple of times to visit and stay a while. I went to California a couple of times to visit and stay. We got on great and things seemed to be going places. I proposed in May `96 and we got married that September. She was very keen to live closer to the bright lights of Europe, so moved to Scotland with me.
From the outset things were turbulent. She struggled with the culture shock, she struggled with finding a job she felt was suitable for her, she wasn`t happy. I worked hard at making things as good as they could be for her, but we were both young and both still setting out in life. We were both learning about each other, about our strengths and our weaknesses.
The key thing that I didn`t know about her before we got married was that she had a lot of emotional baggage from childhood. She believed if she felt like working at it, making it work - then great.
If not, then she didn`t need to worry as it was my job to take up the slack. I felt it early on, but convinced myself it was just teething problems with being in a new country, settling in together,
and it would get better. How wrong was I.
Very quickly, our marriage settled into a pattern of her never being happy about some aspect of her life, and me blaming myself for much of it while trying to make it better.
In the years that followed, we bought an apartment, and while we remodeled and redecorated. Things improved between us, but once we settled into our new place and life returned to "normal` so the stress and troubles returned. We lived there a number of years with many difficult times along the way. She withdrew into herself and intimacy ceased between us. It never really returned. She got a good job, and then said my job wasn`t good enough for her. Things got bad between us and at one point she saw a divorce lawyer to see what she could get` from the marriage if she divorced me. She constantly said she was leaving. She moved back to California for 6 months to `study` then returned saying she missed Scotland. It was stressful to say the least. We went to marriage counseling, but after three sessions the counselor said there was nothing she could do for us. We went home and tried to make it work.
Every time we had any difference in opinion on anything, an argument would follow, if I stood my ground, she threatened to leave, to divorce. Again and again I blamed myself. Again and again she got her own way.As long as she got her own way, things are bearable. We got on with things, the problems were there, but we both became good at hiding them, working around them. They tainted every aspect of our relationship and our lives. I know I lost much of "myself` in those years, when it became easier not to fight, to compromise and avoid conflict.
The years dragged on, we sold our apartment in the city, made a killing, and moved to a gorgeous little house in a great little town in the countryside. It needed a lot of work, but we had the money and it was our chance at a fresh start. Six months later we had good jobs, a beautiful home, and great vacations. To all that knew us, we had a great life with great neighbors, in a great place, and the best of both worlds that town and country living could offer. Relocating and having a support system around us did not change or improve our relationship. Little did they know (or so I thought) it wasn`t good between us, still the arguments raged, still the baggage weighed heavily, still the intimacy was gone.
All through this time, I wrestled with my feelings. My head said `Call it a day`. My heart said "This is the girl you love, and you promised to love her and be there for her through thick and thin.` It was difficult to juggle emotions. Distractions were the easy answer, the escape. I sunk into my job and did well, worked my way through a complete remodel of the back garden (a large area, a lot of work, a lot of time spent outside working and a lot of wandering the aisles at the diy store on weekends). I got a dog (I can`t describe how much of a godsend Woody [my Dog] has been. His unconditional love, his enthusiasm for life and his natural ability to gauge the mood of every situation, then simply be the perfect non-judgmental friend and companion through it all has kept me going, kept me on track and helped me keep things in perspective. I owe such a lot to him sounds stupid I know, but I`m sure there are many who have been through the same and would say the same of their pets), and I had a fun old car, that constantly needed tinkering and fettling to keep on the road. More distractions!
We had our `Separate Lives` and got on with them, but the arguments continued and my compromising continued.
In `04 she announced that she was tired of Scotland and wanted to return to the USA. I didn`t have a problem with this. I had always seen it as a possible `next step` in our lives. I wasn`t averse to it.
I saw it as an adventure, a positive thing, another fresh start. This time I hoped she would be back on home turf, where she`d finally be happy, feel settled at last. I was wrong.
Her family`s internal politics drove her to look for places to live that didn`t involve California and she settled for Fort Collins, CO, Money Magazine`s No 1 Best Place to live in 2006, with a university, outdoorsy lifestyle, low crime rates, good jobs and reasonable property prices. But when we got there, she didn`t like the cold or the scenery or the `small town feel` of the place, so we washed up in Santa Rosa, CA. 15 miles from where her parents lived with their respective partners. She didn`t buy into this change of plan, she didn`t try, and I paid for it. Boy, did I pay for it. The arguments increased, the intensity of the disputes increased, there were times of physical violence, when she ran out of words and used actions to get her levels of displeasure across. I was now the one in a new country. I so wanted it to work for both of us, I so wanted for it to settle, find equilibrium and become normal. I hoped the storm would pass, but instead, she descended into another depression, saying she never wanted to leave Scotland, she never wanted to return to California, she never wanted to be this near to her parents etc, etc, etc.
I got a job, I found a better job, got a promotion, I tried as hard as I could to build foundations for this new adventure, this new life. I did the best I could, but it was never good enough. We had a great home, in a nice neighborhood with lovely neighbors, but still it wasn`t enough. Things gradually descended, it approached breaking point.
Then her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This changed everything. I wasn`t going to give up now. In the 18 months that followed, her moods became more erratic, the recession hit California and I lost my job. Her mother passed away and she really sank to new depths of anger, aggression, sadness, and depression. She really wasn`t thinking clearly in so many ways. She spent her inheritance on needless things. She demanded we start trying to have a baby, I knew a baby would not bring us closer or fix our relationship. She became more and more unstable with arguments and violence escalating.
By the start of 2009 I was desperate, I was out of work, I had an irrational, depressed, violent wife and we were losing our savings at a terrifying rate living in one of the most expensive places to live in California. I made the decision to move us, lock stock and barrel, back to the UK, where I was back on home ground and could hopefully salvage some of the life we`d had before.
Prior to the move, she was up for the change, said it was a good idea, said it was for the best. As soon as we arrived, she said she`d never wanted to move, said she missed California, said she wished she was with her mother. I really didn`t know what to do. I tried everything to get a job find us somewhere inexpensive to live, do anything it took to get us re-established and going after the move. Meanwhile her moods became more and more erratic, her willingness to adapt to the situation became less and less, and she was determined for me to know it was my fault. I was struggling, sinking, losing the battle with this. I knew it then, more than ever, but I didn`t want to admit it "Maybe just maybe if I could find somewhere that we could find a home and settle, then maybe things would be better.
In 2011 we found an apartment overlooking the sea in a coastal town, within commuting distance of the city, we bought it and moved in. She chose it, she liked it, and she had her say on how it was decorated. It was her little palace, but it didn`t improve her outlook, attitude, eagerness to try to contribute or willingness to participate in the marriage. By now my heart wasn`t in it, I knew I needed to call it a day. I had enough, I didn`t want to carry on trying, and I`d tried for long enough. We had a grim, cold, unfeeling Christmas. I told her I could not do it all on my own, I asked for her to step up and help me if it meant anything to her. She told me to get off her ass, she missed her mother, she was doing the best she could to find work, and she didn`t want to try. I knew then that it was time.
I told her it was over and I wanted out.
The following 20 months have taken me to some pretty dark places, pushed me far beyond what I ever considered my comfort zones to be, made me question my judgment, made me doubt my character, made me question my values and beliefs. But it brought me a sense of peace that had been long forgotten, started me on the long road to rediscovering who I really am, gave me the realization that I have saved myself, in one of the harshest ways imaginable.
I sit here now, with Woody (my dog who has been with me through all this) asleep beside me and I think of all I put up with in the name of doing the `Right Thing` and upholding my marriage vows. I see now what a fine line it is between standing by someone and being taken for a fool. I know this is something I need to address within myself and try never to fall back into this situation again. I don`t feel proud of myself for any of what I`ve had to do. I feel a strong sense of misplaced survivor guilt because of it.
She has told me I have ruined her life, wasted her best years, and denied her of a family, children, and a career. She says she hates me, and wishes she`d never met me. We have not spoken since the divorce was finalized. I can`t say I still love her, all that diminished to nothing years ago, but I wish her all the best in the world. I hope she finds the happiness that she is looking for. I hope she finds someone to share her life with, who will understand her and give her the life she demanded. In April 2012, she moved out and in October 2013, the divorce was finalized and we have not spoken since.Me? I`ve had to work out so many things. I feel I have a large gap in my life now. So many years that have disappeared and shouldn`t be talked about. I feel I`ve lived a lie for long enough, now I only want to take my time and deal with honesty and enjoy peace. Tricky, in such a fast paced and deceptive world. I feel I have a lot of rebuilding to do "From the inside out. I know I`ll get there, but I know it`ll take time.
One huge source of support, though I doubt they will ever really realize how hard it hit me, how sad it made me, but how comforting I found it, is everyone who knew `us`, who I have been in touch
with and who had heard that I had broken up with her. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, said they always knew something was terribly wrong, but they didn`t want to pry. They could tell how I conducted myself, how I made excuses, how I spun versions of the truth that I was in a troubled, unhealthy marriage. They could all see that I was unhappy, and that I was doing the best I could in an unwinnable situation. They have all said they wondered how long it would take and how happy they are for me that I took the leap, wished me all the very best for the future, all have told me never to look back or to blame myself. All that means a lot.
To anyone who reads this, I`ve done my best not to let it become a `woe-is-me` story, and I`ve tried not lay all the blame at her door. I know I didn`t deserve to be on the receiving end of someone who had no issues with lashing out verbally and physically. I know too I didn`t deserve to be drowned in an endless river of emotional blackmail. I only wanted my wife to be happy, it just took a long time for me to not only realize, but also accept and detach enough emotionally to see that I was never going to be able to help her with that and I had to move on.
Domestic, V. (2013, 05 31). Domestic violence against men. Retrieved from http://www.oregoncounseling.org/Handouts/DomesticViolenceMen.htm
Lin. (2010, 03 26). Husband abuse: mentally, physically, and emotionally abused men. Retrieved from http://www.tellinitlikeitis.net/2010/03/husband-abuse-mentally-physically-and-emotionally-abused-men.html
Solanki, P. (2011, 10 03). Abusive women in relationships. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/abusive-women-in-relationships.html
Tracy, N. (2012, 07 24). Emotional abuse of men: men victims of emotional abuse too. Retrieved from http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-of-men-men-victims-of-emotional-abuse-too/
Wright, C. (2005, 08 14). Men abused by the women they love: does it really happen?. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/men-abused-women-they-love-5132.html?cat=48