Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Does He DO That?

I'm reading a very interesting and helpful book - Why Does He DO That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.*

Bancroft spent many years working with this type of man and gained considerable insight into their thought processes. Interestingly, he always attempted to maintain contact with the wives and girlfriends of the men he counseled so he could get both sides of the story. Much of this book resonates with me.

Bancroft says that there are many types of controlling men and many myths surrounding the abusive man. He believes that the heart of the matter is not the man's past or his struggles with mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse. Instead, Bancroft's position is that a man's thought processes are what leads to angry and controlling behavior.

What are these thought processes that lead to abuse? Bancroft lists ten realities that together make up the abusive mentality.

Reality #1 - He is controlling.

This is my ex-husband in spades. He believed that he had a right to control me. Bancroft says that most controlling men don't try to control everything about their partner, but they stake out specific areas to control. My ex-husband once gave me a two-page list of tasks that he expected me to do every day. Included in that list was that he expected to walk in the door at 6pm every evening and find a hot, tasty meal ready and waiting. If it didn't happen, he was angry. On the other hand, he usually didn't care too much where I went during the day or what the children and I did. As long as we were properly prepared and waiting eagerly for his arrival from work, the rest of the day was mine to control.

Currently, my ex is trying to exert control by trying to control how I parent the children. He has sent me messages telling me how the children and I should spend our free time. He has tried to make me sign a "contract" involving him and one of our adult children. He is also trying to use the court system to exert greater levels of control over me and the children.

Reality #2 - He feels entitled.

Oh. My. Goodness. THAT'S IT!!! Let me share Bancroft's definition of entitlement - "the abuser's belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner." My ex-husband believed that as a man, and as the only one earning an income his opinions and his desires were paramount.

In recent months my ex-husband's feelings of entitlement have taken a huge hit. He was absolutely appalled when he learned that as his wife I was entitled to half of the marital assets. He assumed that everything belonged to him exclusively. He still has not turned everything over to me, and he has only two more weeks to complete the process.

My ex-husband has always had the mentality that he was special and different from everyone else. And if he receives any recognition for a job well done, his feelings of entitlement rise even higher. As he became more and more successful in his profession, he became increasingly abusive. My experience parallels the experiences Bancroft had in working with abusive men. At one time he had some of his "success stories" speak out publicly about how they overcame their abusive tendencies.  In every single case, the men who received recognition reverted to abusive behavior.

I'll share more about the the thought processes of angry and controlling men another day. If someone in your life exhibits these realities, I'd suggest you get a copy of the book to read.

*Bancroft states several time in his book that he refers to abusers as men because the vast majority of them ARE men, and the vast majority of their victims are women. He agrees that in a few rare cases women are the abusers and their male partner is the victim. Additionally, in the homosexual community both men and women may be abused by their same-sex partner, and he addresses some of the issues that are unique to same-sex relationships.

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