Domestic Abuse: Pushing a Man Too Far

angry womanMany women today have lost touch with reality.  On the one hand, we say that emotional/psychological abuse can be just as or even more damaging than physical abuse, which is true.  On the other hand, when the receiver of emotional abuse is male, we minimize it and say that he should learn to “take it like a man”.  If he strikes back verbally, he gets accused of emotional abuse, and if he strikes back physically, he gets thrown in jail.

Others may have different experiences, but as a spiritual counselor, in all my years, I have never seen but one true case of male-on-female real one-sided abuse.  The woman was intimidated, fearing for her life if she should leave.  The man was crazy, complete with weird religious beliefs.  The kids were also being abused.  Eventually, she escaped.

In every other case, both partners were abusive, or the woman was abusive, and the man defending himself, or the woman was psychologically torturing and provoking the man to create an artificial abuser/martyr situation.  The woman was at least emotionally abusive, and sometimes physically so.  She was abusive towards her partner and the children if they had any.  The only way that the man could bear more of the fault is when he was physically stronger.  Most of the time though, it was that the partners were fighting, not that the man was just outright physically abusive.

Real male-on-female physical abuse does happen, and when it does, it is very devastating, but female-on-male physical abuse happens as well.  Statistically, men and women are equally violent when it is a case of one-sided domestic abuse.  The statistics come from reported cases to police and emergency staff.  Anecdotally, all you have to do to find abused men is stroll through a bar.  Once the alcohol loosens guys up, many can tell you of past and present abuse by women in their lives, from moms to sisters to wives, and they’ll show you their scars.

So we need to stop treating domestic violence as something men do to women.  Women need to get real about our own violent tendencies, and where they come from.  We also need to stop punishing men for being human, having feelings, and not enjoying abuse.

Where Is The Line?

A few minutes on the internet, and it becomes clear that people don’t know how to have an argument or debate anymore.  Two lines in, and folks degrade into personal attacks, namecalling, and other stupidity that derails the dialogue.

Where this may fly on the internet, it does not in real life.  If you are having a conflict with someone, it becomes emotional abuse when you resort to a personal attack, especially if you are misrepresenting or lying about the person, call the other person something other than their name, or you use a fatalistic label or insult.  It is also abuse when you bring up sensitive issues and arguments, or embarrass them in public over petty things.

For example, let’s say that you and your partner are living together, and one of his chores is to take out the trash.  You asked him to do that this morning, and he did not.  Later in the day, you enter the livingroom and find him playing a video game with his friends.

The trash is not overflowing or smelly.  No bugs are crawling in it.  It could wait another day and the world would not end.  You are annoyed and angry though, because he said he would do it, but he didn’t.

This is the point where you should be controlling your emotions, and not get into a negative spiral.  You should not take his not taking out the trash to mean he hates you or doesn’t take his chores seriously.  It does not mean that he doesn’t value your work in maintaining the home.  It does not mean that he does not feel invested in the household.  It is not a sign that he is cheating on you.  Stop yourself before you start down that road.

He probably just forgot or maybe looked at it and thought that it could wait.  It is likely that in such a situation, a man would go logical, and think to himself that he should wait until after his friends leave since they will probably make more trash.

It would not be abuse to take him aside and remind him or get an explanation.  It would be abuse if you go off on him in front of his friends and make a scene about it.  It would also be abuse even if you waited until they left, but berated him and accused him or not loving you because he didn’t take the trash out.

If you use his love for you against him, this is abuse.  If you use his love for you as a stick to make him follow your commands or do bad things, this is abuse.  It is like when a parent uses the child’s love for them to get them to cover up abuse and other dysfunctional and dangerous situations.  Any time you are using your advantage against someone unfairly, it is abuse.

That’s where the line is.  Now take a moment to think back on all the times you have crossed it.

Being honest, we all do it from time to time.  Nobody on Earth is totally clean of manipulation and sometimes taking unfair advantage of people emotionally.  Where it becomes really messed up and dangerous is when someone makes a habit of it, and unfortunately many women do.

Normal Solipsism vs. Narcissism

Most of us women have issues in being a bit solipsistic.  This means that we tend to view the world through the lens of ourselves and our experiences.  I believe that we are wired this way because it served some evolutionary purpose, preventing us from being overly esoteric and losing focus on practical survival concerns.  We need to be somewhat selfish and self centered in order to “keep it real”.

Mirror MirrorIt becomes a problem when a woman becomes extremely egocentric, and her own feelings are the only ones that matter.  Her husband, her children, her friends…everyone around her becomes pawns in her game.  She allows herself to treat everyone like dirt, but nobody is supposed to even question her at all.  Despite abusing and using everyone around her, she believes she is some kind of hero.  She thinks this actually makes sense.

Before you think to yourself, “What a horrible person!” consider that this may be you.  This is a lot of women.

Has every man you’ve ever dated and broken up with been an absolute villain?  Do you feel like the world is against you?  Is everyone taking advantage of you or abusing you?

If you believe these things, then I guarantee you that the problem is you, and that you are either chasing bad situations to validate your sense of moral superiority, or you are delusional.  Check yourself.  You may be a narcissist or close to being one.

Now, think about what happens to you during an argument with your partner.

How invested are you in being right?  Do you even account for the possibility that you may be wrong, or that your perspective of the situation may not be accurate?

Now here’s the big question…

What is your objective, when you are arguing with your partner?

Are you trying to resolve the situation, or are you trying to “win”?

…or are you just trying to hurt him as much as you can?

Trying to win and trying to hurt are the wrong answers.  Those are abuser answers.

Stop Pushing

Now that we’ve addressed your side, let’s talk about the man’s side.  There are male abusers and narcissists too, but most guys are just guys.  Men naturally externalize their emotions.  This is part of what makes the natural, traditional man a useful contributor to society.  It’s what keeps him getting up every day, going to work, and bringing home resources.  They take joy in building and maintaining things outside of themselves; seeing the fruits of their labors.

So though they may seem cool and calm on the outside, when they are confused, angry, sad, or hurt, they feel every word you say.  Most men have learned by adulthood, not to express what they feel inside because if they don’t control their emotions, they know their emotions will control them.  Their way of doing that is usually by shutting up and tuning out, walking away from the situation, and withdrawing.

We can say, as women, that this may not be the healthiest way to cope with negative emotions or conflict, but since we are not the same, it’s not really for us to say what is healthy for them unless it is more harmful than the alternatives at the moment.  It isn’t.  Let them cope their way, and you take care of keeping your own emotions in check.

If you are in a conflict with a man, and he becomes avoidant, it is because he is trying to sort himself out.  Try to notice when this is happening, and back off.  If it’s important, don’t let him escape from the conflict, but give him the time he needs to get himself together.  Ask him respectfully if he would rather talk about it later, and set a time.  It is important to set a time, perhaps 20 minutes from the moment.  During the break, be somewhere else.

Don’t do the silent treatment, but don’t sit on his neck either.  Also, don’t just walk away.  Ask for the break or announce the break.  Take that time, not to think of better comebacks or ways to hurt him, but think of ways to express what you need to express respectfully so he can hear you.  When you resume, do so calmly.

Every Freaking TIME!

If you find that you and your partner are arguing too often, or that no matter what you do, you end up trading insults or coming to blows and not the good kind, there is no shame in getting help.  Talk to a spiritual counselor though, because conventional therapy nowadays isn’t very balanced.  If you’re an atheist, see a Pagan or a Universalist type, who isn’t trying to recruit.

It is important that you see someone who understands the difference between men and women, and can bridge that well.  Technically male androgynes shine above others in this way.  In my faith, the best at this are Gay or Bi male children of Oshun.

Whatever your belief system, this is not something that statistics, facts and figures, or the mainstream is going to help.  So save the money and the heartache and go spiritual because your relationship is an emotional/spiritual connection, not just a physical or logical one.

If you are going conventional at all, some community centers have courses in conflict resolution.  You can apply what you learn there to your relationships in a round about way.

Why Are You Blaming Women?

I focus on the woman’s role in solving conflicts and preventing domestic abuse because we are the emotional and social backbone of the family.  With things having to do with feelings, men follow our lead.  I am not blaming women for domestic abuse.  I am taking responsibility for my role, as a woman, in my relationship dynamic, and encouraging other women to do so as well.  As they say, it takes two to tango…

Though women perpetrate domestic abuse as often as men, we are forgiven for it much, much more often.  Some emotional abuse especially, is viewed as common female behavior.  Since we are generally physically weaker, our dishing out assaults is also not taken as seriously.  Women slap men over words all the time.

Some problems are human problems with no solution, and this is okay.  I don’t think women should be treated *exactly* the same, because we are different.  One wouldn’t put a woman in jail for slapping a man who called her a whore for the same reason one wouldn’t put an old person in jail for bumping someone with their walker or cane, who was carelessly blocking an entrance ramp.

However, with this privilege of a sort of right of way due to physical weakness, comes the responsibility to use it wisely.  How ever others may be affected or unaffected by our actions, monstrosity springs from within.  Someone who takes unfair advantage, and makes others miserable is a monster.  When a monster finds a target over whom she has a very strong advantage, she will eat them.

Women should not forget how important we are, and how important our role in a relationship is.  We should not objectify men.  We should treat them like human beings.  We should understand our differences and the differences in experiences in life the same as one would be understanding of ethnic differences.  It amazes me that some people can understand how a person who grew up around crime and poverty can become a mugger and forgive the thief, but can’t be understanding when a man who has committed no crime yells back at an emotionally abusive woman, or strikes her one day because she has been mentally torturing him for years.

People in relationships should not be treating each other badly.  Period.  Once you start down the road of any kind of abuse, you create a bad situation that one or both of you may not survive.

So if it helps you, then you can borrow the code that my family abides by.

The Code of Conflict

In this house, we do not hit each other.

In this house, we do not call each other anything but each others’ names.

In this house, we do not break or destroy each others’ property, and if we do, we replace it.

In this house, we treat each other respectfully.

In this house, we treat each other courteously.

In this house, we are a team.

Financial Problems

Financial stresses are a known trigger of abusive domestic situations.  When someone’s basic needs are not fully met, or at risk, this causes a survival stress that understandably pushes many people over the edge.

Remember earlier when I said that men naturally externalize their emotions, and enjoy being providers, and building?  Imagine what it must be like for men in these hard times, when not only are they having a hard time being providers, but the culture discourages women from showing any appreciation for men when they are providers.

As I’ve said many times on this site, we’re into is, not shoulds.  Berating a man for not making enough money is not cool.  It is not a shortcut to actually encouraging and helping him to build himself.  It is also not a substitute for getting off your butt and helping out without shaming him.  He takes enough crap at work, and does not need to come home to more crap.

The way things work in a traditional family is that the woman handles the finances, and figures out a way for the family to live below their means.  So you create a positive dynamic from the dating phase of the relationship by accepting the economic level at which he is able to pursue you.  Remember, frugality is one of the seven marks of worthiness.

Never shame or berate a man for being poor or less wealthy than you or other men.  If he can’t afford you, and it is at a level where it causes real problems, and you are ashamed of him, don’t be with him.  Set him free so that a woman who is grateful for what he has to offer can make a home with him.  If you can’t be with him and not make him feel low, then let him go.

If he screws up, or does foolish things, then by all means, call him on it.  Again, do so respectfully and in a way that makes it clear that you are trying to resolve the problem, not lord your perceived moral superiority over him.  If it’s just that he doesn’t make much money though, keep your mouth shut count those pennies and make them count.

Since the woman should be handling the finances, there should be no reason for you to talk about the finances when things are stable, unless an actual decision needs to be made that is going to cost money.  The man should have the final word on these things.  In most situations though, there is no need to talk about it, much less talk any trash.

Women have always had to work.  There has never been a time in history, or any place where women who weren’t rich, had the luxury of not working at all.  Even though in the past, a woman’s first priority was her home, women who were physically at home usually did some sort of home business.  Nobody could afford to sit on their butt and just let the man do all of the providing.

So if a man is working, but you are behind in the bills, that is your fault, not his.  You are the one who is supposed to be managing your home, and it’s you who are either running it into the ground or keeping things stable.  He doesn’t need to be making more money unless he is not realistically living up to his potential.  You need to manage the money he does make better, and help out without acting a fool about it.

Aggro Chick

Another problem that leads to abusive domestic situations is the “aggro chick” cultural icon.  Far from being actual warrior women, ultra-violent action heroes are a thing.  On the one hand, it can be a nice fetish fantasy, but on the other, it has given women a very unrealistic idea of how they can match up to a man in a combat situation.

Tai ChiFemale martial artists, security personnel, and police can tell you, we are not stronger than men.  The average man can kick even a relatively strong woman’s butt all over the street if they want.  Women today greatly underestimate men’s natural skill in violence, and greatly under-appreciate men’s protection of us from violence.

So get the combative Charlie’s Angels mess out of your head.  If a man hits you in the face with his full strength, you are going down.  Before you put your hands on a man in anger, or get up in his face yelling and screaming, remember that he can kill you in one blow.  If he doesn’t hit you back, that is him being merciful, controlled, and not using his advantage against you, not him being afraid of you.  At most, he’s being afraid of jail, but if you push a guy too far, that fear will be gone too.

Women should have a healthy respect for men’s boundaries and their strength.  We should also have a healthy respect for their emotions.  Some men are legitimately messed up and abusive, but most are not.  Most are just people trying to get by, and survive in this world just like us.  So we have to be in this together, and treat domestic violence as both our problems, not just a man problem.

The solution starts from within…

I am responsible for my own actions and reactions to things.

My behavior is a manifestation of my own thoughts.

Ashe!

About Mamasan

I'm a multifaith spiritual counselor with lots of experience assisting people with improving their relationships. Feel free to comment on the site or contact me if you have an issue you'd rather discuss privately.

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