Decoding the Myths of Abusive Men


Decoding the Myths of Abusive Men
There are several myths about abusive men that unfortunately perpetuates these relationships.

In the past few months, I have experienced an exponential increase in the number of women seeking help because they are in an abusive relationship. This is both unfortunate and fortunate. Unfortunate because it is happening in greater numbers, but fortunate because they are seeking help. These women have reached their tipping point. They have decided the time is now to make a change and leave. Because of this increase, I felt compelled to blog about this very sensitive and difficult topic.

Abuse, whether it is physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal does not discriminate. Although men suffer too, it predominately affects women, regardless of ethnicity, race and socio economic status. A fine line exists between a physically abusive or a verbally abusive man. They are not as separate as one might think. Physically abusive men are also verbally abusive to their partners. Verbally manipulative and mentally cruel men tend to gravitate towards physical abuse. Both types of abusers are also emotionally abusive using tactics such as emotional blackmail, the silent treatment, subtle and not so subtle coercion, codependence and enmeshment, making unreasonable demands, humiliation and degradation, among others behaviors (Bancroft, 2003).

Abusers have perfected the act of yelling, blaming, name calling, isolating their victim from family and friends, and using control and intimidation to get what they want, when they want it. Over time, the abuser chips away at their victim's self esteem and self worth. An often slow and insidious progression, their abusive behaviors leave their spouse or partner feeling worthless, dependent, fearful and trapped.

It's important to recognize that many men who intimidate and use chronic maltreatment do not look like abusers. They have moments of compassion and kindness, warmth and humor. They may have many good qualities. They may have a successful professional life and may not fit anyone's image of a cruel person. When a woman's life is spinning out of control, it doesn't always occur to her that her partner is an abuser. Why? It is the contrast between the moments of terror, manipulation, and intimidation and the kindness and warmth that creates a complex situation (Bancroft, 2003).

Some of the myths associated with abusive and controlling men:

  • He was abused as a child.
  • He abuses those he loves the most.
  • He has an aggressive personality
  • He hates women.
  • He has low self-esteem.
  • He loses control. He is too angry.
  • He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.
  • He's crazy. He’s got some mental illness that he should be medicated for.

But let's be clear. These are all myths. Abusive men continue to be abusive because they feel they have a right to treat another human being with such disregard and disrespect. It is how they think, how they present their own distorted views on their behaviors, ladled with significant denial and minimization. Most remain wedded to their excuses and continue to blame the victim.

As a clinician, I listen to their stories and they hurt my heart. However, I have learned to embrace my role of an empathic listener and a source of strength and validation. I help them explore their current relationship in a safe environment. I help empower them to make necessary changes and in doing so help them find their voice, as they feel they do not have one. To this end, I remain compassionate about helping women and men leave these abusive and destructive relationships and find solace, peace of mind, quiet, and freedom from abuse.

Are you aware of the cycle of abuse? If not, check out the cycle of abuse link which explains the abusive cycle in detail.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you know what to look for? Read: Signs that you are in an abusive relationship. 

References/Resources: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. (Lundy Bancroft, 2003). Great book!

For More On Abusive Relationships From YourTango:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Kristin Davin, Psy.D.


Kristin M. Davin, Psy.D. 

Licensed Clinical Psychologist 

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: PsyD
Specialties: Communication Problems, Couples/Marital Issues, Divorce/Divorce Prevention
Other Articles/News by Dr. Kristin Davin, Psy.D.:

How Sibling Relationships And Birth Order Affect You


Whether you have one sib or ten sibs, “there may be no relationship that can run quite as deep or survive quite as long as those among siblings.” ~ Jeffrey Kluger If you are as lucky as I am, then you have been fortunate to have siblings that have enhanced your life. Originally, I was one of three. With my father's remarriage, I became one ... Read more

LGBT Relationships: Love Is Love


In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the official listing of psychiatric disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association followed suit. This turn in events was based on previous studies that demonstrated that one's sexual orientation had bearing on their mental and emotional stability. In a landmark ... Read more

A Letter To My Younger Self: What I Wish I Knew Then


Over the past few months, as each day brings me closer to reaching that proverbial birthday — the 50th — I have noticed more thought being given to its significance — enough to give me pause and reflect as well as ponder this — if I wrote a letter to my younger self, what would I say to her? What experiences would I ... Read more

See More


Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.