By Gary Direnfeld: Truly abusive men are out for themselves. These are the narcissists and sociopaths who walk among us in plain clothes. Abusive men rely on these five strategies to gratify their needs ahead of or at the expense of their partner:
Even with fingers caught in the cookie jar, abusive men are apt to outright deny wrongdoing. I didn’t do that. That’s not what you saw! This is quite crazy making for the women who live with them. These women are left questioning their own perceptions, seeking to resolve the cognitive dissonance between their experience and their partner’s description of what appears as an alternate reality. Bottom line: If you experience something with your own senses, don’t question yourself and don’t take your partner’s bunk.
Distortion differs from denial in that while some truths are admitted to, they are manipulated to suite the abuser’s point of view. With distortion, they can turn a lie into a plausible truth: I may have done such and so, but I was just joking around. Because they rely on a half lie, the abusive man can be more difficult to hold accountable. The partner who is subject to this form of manipulation is apt to give the abuser multiple chances, feeling the need to have absolute certainty before they can really catch the abuser at this game. Bottom line: Don’t let him play games with your mind. If it smells bad, it is bad.
The abuser that uses deflection never addresses any issue put to him. Rather, he is apt to barrage you with a host of other issues to throw you off his scent. He will make anything other than himself the issue and will be on it like a junk yard dog on a bone. What are you blaming me for? You know your mother doesn’t like me. Quit listening to her and we would be all right. She’s the problem between us! Don’t let yourself be misguided. Stick with the facts and continue to hold the abuser accountable. Don’t let him throw others under the bus to save himself.
Abusive men like to get away with whatever they can. The tactics include sneaking, stealing and lying. These are the guys who will tell you they are out bowling when having a sexual meet-up or say they are working late when out with the boys. As long as they don’t get caught, they continue to lie. Catch them in a lie and they are apt to deny, distort or deflect. How many lies do you have to catch your partner in before you get the message; this is an abusive man. No solid relationship can be built on lies.
Denigration is a verbally violent tactic of the abusive men. These are put-downs that are meant to cause their partner to feel bad. To the degree they can make their partner feel bad, they elevate their own status. These men will demean and/or blame you for any issue originating with them. This kind of abuse is particularly dangerous to a women’s self-esteem. Once you accept that you are a lowly dog, he’s got full control of you and will use you up and spit you out when finished.
Sadly, abusive men live among us and what’s worse; they can hide like wolves in sheep’s clothing. They can appear charming and they will try to work their way into your heart. They seek to ingratiate themselves to you. However, once in, they’re out to exploit. Try and thwart them and they rely on their five best friends to hold power so they can continue to win their way for their own gratification.
If your partner uses any of these strategies or combination of strategies on you, see what you can do to help yourself. The likelihood of changing the truly abusive man is limited. Your local women’s shelter would be a good first place to seek counselling or a referral to other community resources.
Article was published with the permission of Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW at yoursocialworker
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead and the parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator. His book, Marriage Rescue is due out in spring 2013. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America
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