Why do they treat me like this?
Is it ‘cos they’re stressed? Because they were drinking or using drugs? Or because they had a bad childhood?
Is it because they can’t handle feeling angry or jealous? Is it low self-esteem?
It can be hard to understand why someone who is supposed to care about you can hurt you.
He took everything out on us. Sometimes it could be that he had been told off at work or he had done something stupid in front of his mates. The tension was building up and he wanted to get that sense of being in control, having power. Then he would come home and just snap… If he didn’t have a reason, he would just make one up. I felt like a punching bag – it was easy for him, he thought I’d never go anywhere, I’ll be there.
Lots of us have bad times, get stressed, get drunk or use drugs, but we don’t all treat others badly because of it. An abuser often uses these things as excuses or blames others.
They say things like “You made me jealous” or “It was your fault” to justify their behaviour.
The reason people hurt, threaten, control or manipulate others is usually because of their attitudes and values.
People who are abusive know what they are doing – abuse is usually deliberate, and isn’t because someone has ‘lost control’.
But often they don’t fully understand why they act the way they do.
They often believe their own excuses.
They want to feel powerful or important
Sure, sometimes we all want to feel powerful or important. But putting someone else down is a really nasty way to make yourself feel better.
Someone who is abusive may like feeling that they’ve got power over their boyfriend/girlfriend and can tell them what to do.
I was told by him how to wear my hair and clothes, who I could and couldn’t be friends with and what I could and couldn’t say.
They like to get their own way
He would order me around and tell me what to do, how to do it, put me down if I got it wrong.
They see their partner as an easy target
When their partner seems committed to or dependent on the relationship, they may think they can get away the abuse. They can take their stresses or anger out on their partner.
He was not abusive before the baby, just insecure. When the baby was born he felt he had a hold over me.
He’s proving he’s a ‘real man’
He wants to prove he is a ‘real man’ by keeping his partner ‘in line’. Some guys have a judgemental attitude towards women and think that men should be ‘the boss’.
The worst of the abuse was probably constantly being told I was nothing more than a “whinging, stupid bitch” and that I was “never going to be as pretty or sexy as other girls”.
It’s all their partner’s fault
Too easy – they don’t have to take responsibility for things going wrong, since it’s always their girlfriend’s fault, right? Wrong.
Some people always feel that other people are to blame.
Every problem he had, he blamed on me, and would always start fights. He was never happy, I was never good enough.
They want to be the only one
They don’t like it when their partner is independent. They feel powerful when their partner is dependent on them, and use jealousy to control their partner and to keep their partner isolated.
It started when he got mad if I’d talk to my friends or overly jealous if I talked to any guys. Then it became worse. Towards the end of our relationship, I didn’t have any friends, hardly even left my house, didn’t go to school or work (he would have been mad), and spent all my time with him.
It was the drugs/grog, not me
They use alcohol, drugs, or other things as an excuse so they don’t have to accept that they are responsible for their actions.
He started to get controlling about what we ate, what we bought, and where we would go. …. When he had alcohol or drugs, he became extremely violent and would hit, kick, throw, and head-butt me… He would always say sorry afterwards and that he would take himself into counselling, but he never did. He made me feel sorry for him.
What about rape or sexual assault?
Rape or sexual assault doesn’t happen because a guy can’t control his sexual urges.
It’s usually because:
- he enjoys feeling that he has power over someone else
- he is focused on ‘scoring’ and proving that he is a guy who gets lots of sex
- he believes that his partner should meet his sexual needs and ‘owes’ him sex.
I didn’t want to sleep with him because of religious issues, but he nagged me and kept touching me until I did. When I did, there was no focus on me – it was me “serving” him, I had to do exactly what he wanted when he told me to, or he’d go in a complete mood with me until I gave in and apologised – and he got what he wanted.