Why Does He Do That?

When I posted about self help books a few days ago Dee commented with a self help that is now changing my life (THANK YOU DEE!) The book is called, “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft (let’s call it WDHDT). Bancroft has worked with thousands of abusive men and their female partners and with this book he hopes to help women better understand their experience of abuse.

The emotional and psychological abuse I have experienced is no secret but I have downplayed the experience for many years. Reading Bancroft’s book is opening my eyes to perhaps the most important aspect in recovering from abuse and that isΒ why. Why did this abuse happen to me? I feel the why is important because many women (if not all) are made to feel like the abuse they experience is their fault. This thinking needs to be undone because it is not true.

I’m struggling with two things while reading WDHDT: not seeing myself as an abuser and accepting that my partners were abusive and that it was not my fault. Bancroft makes special mention that individuals who have mental health issues and/or experienced trauma from past abuse have different motives for abusing and need a different type of treatment. I believe I would fall into this category. If I dished out any type of abuse to my partners it has been a trauma response. This is NOT an excuse for my poor and hurtful behaviour. I have gone to great lengths to keep my negative behaviours under control and to learn why I behave the way I do. While reading examples of abuse I am seeing similarities between the examples and my relationships. I keep having to quiet the voice that tells me “Well, I did this to make him mad,” or “If I had done this instead then he wouldn’t have yelled at me,” which is EXACTLY what abuse does to a person’s thoughts and what I need to stop thinking.

Side Note: Since entering my new relationship many of my undesirable behaviours have disappeared or are greatly limited. He understands how to speak to me and wants me to be happy. He is not abusive. This is what lets me know that majority of my negative and abusive behaviours were the result of being with abusive men.

It is upsetting to relate to the stories in this book. It’s painful to see how strongly I blame myself for what happened or how I make excuses for my partners. I do believe though that at the end of this journey I will feel better about my experiences with abuse and will be able to let go of the blame and pain.

I also want to share with all of you some important parts of the book. Maybe they will help you too.

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7 thoughts on “Why Does He Do That?

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this resource, Kristen, and especially for being brave and sharing things you find yourself relating to. My history with abusive relationships is still something I’m learning to identify and accept, because as far as more “traditional” (I guess would be the word) patterns of abuse in past relationships is, thankfully, extremely limited. However, the more I examine certain other relationships, I find a much less obvious, sort of insidious and manipulative psychological component that I know I’m only beginning to get a glimpse of and admit. I wonder if you would recommend this as a read if the abusive relationships weren’t with a partner, but a friend or family member?

    Also, I want to tell you how much I relate when you write: “If I dished out any type of abuse to my partners it has been a trauma response. This is NOT an excuse for my poor and hurtful behaviour.” With my bipolar, I know I have been emotionally volatile, hurt people who loved me, and done a whole lot of things that are not normal or acceptable — and I mean my version of normal and acceptable, not some societal value of behavior.

    Anyway, the point being that while I had to go through a lot to come to a point of accepting that those situations were the result of severe illness and, at the time, completely out of my control. I no longer accept blame for things like the emotional outbursts that affected my relationships in the past, however I do accept responsibility to those I may have hurt, to repairing damage when possible and preventing myself from getting to a place where I can lash out and potentially hurt those I love. Being able to see it that way has been so key to recovery and healing, though I know I still have a long way to go.

    Sorry that comment got so long and involved! I do look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this book, and I’m also just very happy that you are so happy and with someone now who is obviously both healthy and happy for you. You really do deserve that in your life. πŸ™‚

    • It may be useful for someone being abused by a friend or family member. The author has stated that it would be suitable for same sex partners to use the information and hinted that men who abuse other men and women who abuse other woman (probably not in the context of an intimate relationship) would behave in similar ways. I would check it out.

      The author does make a distinction between abusers with and without mental health/addictions issues. I appreciate that he says mental illness does not cause abuse but can contribute if the person already has abusive tendencies and on the flip side says that abusive men often do not have a mental health or addiction issue but will blame their behaviour on those issues as an excuse. The part I try and hang on to as to not get myself down is when the author says that abusive men feel justified in their actions. I may have known my reasons for hitting a partner, calling him a name or screaming in his face but I always felt horrible, never justified, and was always set out to try and stop my behaviour. Looking back, I really only got to those points after being called names, screamed at and demeaned in a variety of ways.

      Your approach to your outbursts is positive πŸ™‚ We need to accept responsibility but blame really does nothing except hurt us. Keep commenting on these posts! I want to learn more from you!!!! xoxo

  2. you are welcome!!! glad you liked the book, “why does he do that”. i give it as gifts to sooo many young ladies in the dating world and i think it should be a book used in high schools to teach people how to treat others . . . as you said, it is not just men who abuse.
    I like the concrete ways to see those red flags in people and helps us listen to the small voice (s) inside that warn us.
    there is a difference between people with anger issues and an abuser. abusers ENJOY abusing and see how much they can take from you before you blow a gasket; they want to see how much they can get away with, but a person who is a reactionary abuser is not doing it to have fun. i do not consider a person like that to be an abuser unless they continue to hurt others and get satisfaction from it. if you read the book and learn that your behaviors are hurting others, and then you work to stop them, you are not an abuser.
    there is another book that helped me too, called the sociopath next door. should be able to find it in second had book stores.

  3. Pingback: Abuse is About Entitlement | Pride in Madness

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