Women Abuse Too: A Man’s Experience with Family Abuse
Freud’s psychodynamic theory has, in the past, been a popular explanation as to why an individual would go on to develop devious behavior. According to his theory human behavior is rooted in our experience with our parents. A popular derivative of this concept is that men who hit women do so because they have a dysfunctional hatred of their mother and women who hit men have a dysfunctional need that was not fulfilled by their father. In many cases, including the one below, Freud’s theory rings true.
Example B: The Abusive Family
This next man is no stranger to domestic violence. He has countless stories from early childhood through adulthood of how his parents abused each other and how such abuse had an impact on him. The unpacking of these memories was triggered by one memory that popped up early in adulthood: the memory of his uncle sexually abusing him when he was very young. When he asked his mother whether the experience was real, she explained that it was. She was brief in recounting what happened and didn’t seem overly troubled by the event, despite how troubled her son was. She reasoned that the uncle was a young adult when the abuse happened and that he had “learned his lesson” (even though his abuse was never reported, and he suffered no consequences for what he did). It is possible her dismissal was a way to protect herself, after all she had allowed said uncle to continue babysitting the man long after the abuse occurred. This caused great inner conflict for the son as he knew that child abuse was wrong: yet the person he feared and respected the most (his mother) took the abuser’s side.
Knowing this about her caused him to reflect on his parent’s relationship. He recalled his parents marrying young. They fought all the time over accusations of cheating, money problems and family interactions. Although he recalls both of his parents becoming engaged in the argument, he specifically points out that his mother always started them. He said that you could tell when she was about to have a blow up because she would get a look in her eyes…her pupils would dilate; she would bite her tongue and bear her teeth.
One of his youngest memories was of his mother purposefully wrecking two of his father’s vehicles as revenge when he didn’t come home in time for dinner. Their “knock down drag outs” often escalated into a heated argument occurring in the front lawn of the house. At the time he didn’t think much of it: everyone in his mother’s family fought. They lived in a small town, she had a lot of siblings, and one of them generally ended up at her home after picking a fight with others. His mother’s parents acknowledged that they too fought. When he asked his mother about the root of the generations of fighting, she would be brief but did once offer up a small clue: her grandfather had been a vicious, abusive man. She eluded to the fact that she had been sexually assaulted by her grandfather and that she was sure her siblings had been too. That man never faced consequences for what he did: instead everyone was told that was part of life. Sometimes people abuse you and your job as a member of a family is to shut your mouth, pretend it didn’t happen and move on.
The secret keeping continued in his family. As his parents aged their fighting did not subside. They did not grow out of it, despite numerous occasions where people became aware of what happened behind their closed doors. In those days no one called Child Protective Services or engaged counselors. Small towns bred the small mentality that abusers are to be protected, especially if they are family. It is a toxic belief that still poisons many generations today. He recalled that his mother eventually turned her rage at her children. She had a passion for small children and was overly doting when her children were that age: but when they developed minds of their own, she sought to control them and beat them into submission if necessary. One specific memory from elementary school was of him riding in the car with his mother. She said something to him, and he talked back. Her response was to pull the car over, pull him out of the car, and to physically hit him so hard and so often that he spent an entire week absent from school so no one would see the bruises. Multiple people in the family were aware of the assault. He was told that he deserved it for back talking. He believes this is when his hatred for his mother began to grow.
The remainder of his childhood was spent in a violent home. All the family members now engaged in a physical fight with his mother continuing to be the antagonist. She controlled the family’s money; her job gave her a sense of entitlement and power and she wielded that as a double-edged sword. She could help them, or she could destroy them. She always had those two choices, and no one would stand up to her.
Finally, when college approached, he was able to attend college out of state, far away from his mother. Now that he was an adult his mother was no longer physically intimidating, and she had gotten weaker with age. Instead she turned to emotional dependence and financial abuse as the primary way of maintaining control. She has kept those methods of control for over 20 years now. She has interfered with every relationship he has ever had ultimately driving every female away so that she could continue to be the primary female in control of his life. In his time on earth he has only had two serious relationships lasting over 2 years. During those relationships he moved in with his partner which caused great jealousy and rage on behalf of his mother. She would go months, refusing to speak to him, as having a relationship with someone else and wanting to live a life separate from her was, in her eyes, ultimate betrayal.
Ultimately, he would crumble under the weight of his own demons: so many decades of being raised in households where cheating accusations, money problems, employment instability and emotional hostility have, he feels, damaged him forever. He has physically and sexually assaulted most of his partners. He cries afterwards: he knows that his anger toward women stem from his hatred of his mother. And while everyone can leave him when he begins his abuse, he is still not able to leave her. Now he is aging and fears that his window of being able to find a healthy relationship is waning. His greatest fear is that he will be stuck with his abuser, his mother, until the day she dies. And by that time, it will be too late for him to have a life that even remotely resembles what he had wanted for himself.
Until then he uses her for financial gain, continues seeking out relationships with other women and plotting his eventual escape and, most importantly: continues to feed her lies of what she wants to hear so she will continue to believe he is under her control while he plans otherwise.
Society may not be ready to fully embrace women as abusers in a relationship but there is no shortage of information about women who are abusive to their children and the consequences that has on future generations. There are extreme cases that make the news such as Andrea Yates and DeeDee Blanchard but the more subtle cases that are occurring in homes across the U.S. are the real epidemic.
Identifying a female abuser can be difficult, but here are some common threads between these stories and others that are red flags for abusive potential:
1) Relationships that begin from a young age and move quickly into committed relationships, especially if pregnancy occurs early on.
2)The need to control the family’s finances. Using money to “reward” desired behavior by giving out money while also “punishing” undesired behavior by withholding money despite dire consequences for the individual who is in need.
3) Perpetual hatred and disrespect of other women. Infatuation with what other women are saying or doing. Blatant and repeated patterns of “cyber stalking” on social media.
4) Strong fears of abandonment: accusations of cheating to “test” one’s faithfulness to her.
5) Severe issues with a dominant male figure in her life.
6) History of childhood sexual or physical abuse.
7) Significant personality traits that cause impairment in one’s life: either socially or in the workforce. Narcissism and borderline personalities are common in abusive women.
8) Inability to admit fault. On the rare occasion she does admit fault, she points to someone else’s behavior as being her “cause” for her reaction. Never accepts consequences as being a result of her actions.
9) Strong preoccupation with religion. Views herself as righteous and devout in her beliefs. Often quotes religion to coerce others into doing or believing her own motivations.
10) A preoccupation with keeping everything a secret. People cannot discuss personal struggles, financial problems, or abusive events for fear that others will see her as less of a person.
11) Inflated self-image despite contrary evidence: i.e. believing that she is incredible at her occupation despite poor financial reward or reviews related to her work ethic and abilities.
12) Continuous defamation tactics on her behalf to discredit other women. Strongly driven by revenge and a sense of justice for how she has been wronged by others.
13) Denying that she has a problem. The first sign of mental illness is to have the traits and to think everything is perfectly fine. To her, mental illness is a sign of weakness.
14) General disassociation with reality. Lives a limited life with little experience or exposure to anything outside of her own set of beliefs. This allows her to reinforce her own belief system without consequence.