Men Who Abuse

The 3 categories of male abusers, and how to recognize them.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about abuse, or rather about those that inflict abuse, is that it is often times insidious. From an outsider’s perspective, an abuser typically appears to be a kind, productive, loving, and reasonable person. Abusive men are often quite charismatic, amiable, and even magnetic in their personalities. Privately, of course, life with these men can be quite a different, and potentially deadly, story. His colleagues at work, his clients, his best friend, the neighbor…no one would ever suspect that behind closed doors he hits his wife or kids, or that he goes into terrifying rages that leave things and psyches broken and shattered. Abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or mental. Abuse is about controlling the other person, making that person feel afraid, powerless, insignificant, humiliated, and totally (helplessly) reliant on the abuser. There is no cut-and-dry profile of an abuser. He can come from any walk of life, any socio-economic background. Education, money, status…none of these are clear predictors of who might be an abuser. So how do you recognize an abuser? If he looks and acts like the nicest guy in the world, especially when you first meet, then how are you to know that behind his jovial, warm, engaging exterior is lurking a man whose anger, for whatever the psychological cause, may harm, or even kill?

There are three categories of men that abuse:

  • The “Good Guy”: Not necessarily an abuser by the technical definition. He made one horrible mistake, but has taken responsibility for it and feels great remorse. It’s notable if he confesses a one-time past lapse; if he is able to articulate how he changed, what he learned, and how he made amends, these are good signs.
  • The “Slow Light Bulb”: Initially feels justified in inflicting the abuse and doesn’t “get” why his partner has left him. Because charges were filed, he is legally required to attend counseling, but for a while feels that “society” is forcing him to do this. Because he grew up around abuse, might have been abused himself, and certainly saw his father/other male figures in his life abuse women, he doesn’t quite understand the seriousness of what he did. Eventually, after several months and numerous counseling sessions, he slowly begins to “get it” and to take responsibility for what he did. If you know this man and he is still in the “I’m the victim here” stage, stay away. If, like the “Good Guy” outlined above, he has progressed through his recovery, proceed with caution.
  • The habitual, chronic abuser: Truly mentally ill and prone toward violence that is hard to imagine, let alone treat. Stay away at all costs. Sadly, recognizing men who abuse isn’t the easiest thing to do. Charming, attentive, and, for lack of a better word, seductive, are traits that can almost always be used to describe these types of men.

Here are some red flags, or abuse warning signs, to look for:

  • He has told you that he was abusive in the past (e.g. he hit an ex girlfriend).
  • Threatening or coercive behavior: Healthy relationships do not involve threats or ultimatums.
  • Breaking objects: Terrorizes the victim by breaking tables, smashing things, etc. and implies that she is “next.”
  • Uses physical force during an argument: e.g. pushing, shoving, and holding the victim down, blocking doorways, flicking, locking car doors, etc.
  • Jealousy and controlling behavior: Jealousy is not a sign of love, but of possessiveness and control. Types of controlling/jealous behavior include stalking, monitoring activities, monitoring phone conversations, and interrogations, etc.
  • Isolation: Slowly and systematically dismantling the victim’s support system so that she is reliant only on him for all her needs (financial, emotional, social, etc.)
  • Not taking responsibility/blames others for his problems.
  • Cruelty to children or animals.
  • Rigid gender roles and/or rough sex.
  • A Jekyll and Hyde personality

There are a variety of therapeutic approaches that can be utilized to help someone overcome the effects of abuse, trauma, or PTSD. The counseling process begins with finding the right healing relationship followed by the establishment of a sense of physical and psychological safety. We then help you move through the exploration of memories and the emotional pain that is associated with those memories. The goal is to help you reduce the intensity of the corresponding emotions and live life more freely.

Therapies used in the treatment of psychological trauma, abuse, and PTSD include:

If you are being abused, it’s important to get help. Foundations offers a safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere where you can explore your options. Set up a free consultation today.