Why Does He Do That? Why Does an Abuser Abuse?


Author Lundy Bancroft has written a great book called Why Does He DO That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. I reference it on my Get Help page, and I recommend that everyone interested in domestic violence read it. In addition, Mr. Bancroft did a presentation at an EADV event called “Domestic Violence in Popular Culture” which was held at the Department of Revenue in Boston Massachusetts on December 15, 2010. His talk is presented on YouTube in 5 parts. Here is the link for Part 2.

In this part of his talk, he gives great information about abusers that I will summarize below:

1.     Lundy believes that domestic violence is primarily a male on female crime. He acknowledges that this is not a politically correct stance. Many people today like to believe that women abuse men just as often as men abuse women. He insists this is categorically untrue. He says in the majority, it is women who are being killed by men, women who are the ones that are afraid for their lives, and women who spend a good portion of their day worrying about their safety and that of their children.

2.     We as a society believe that a man is abusive because he is a tortured soul, and he is violent because he is in so much emotional pain. Because this is the general belief, we as a people begin looking around for the cause of his pain, and often we assume his partner is the cause of it. This leads naturally to blaming the victim. Abusers are very good at working this belief. An abuser wants us to believe that he really IS in a lot of emotional pain, and that his partner is the cause of it. Lundy says this is just not true.

3.     Lundy has found in working with abusers that they are not in any more pain than other men in general. In fact, they are often “top dog” – good looking, making a lot of money, popular, liked by everyone except the woman they are living with, and perhaps their children.

4.     So, if abusers don’t abuse because of their inner pain, why do they? Lundy believes it has more to do with their values and attitudes; their mentality. What is this mentality?

  • They look down on their partner,
  • They are oriented towards dominating her,
  • They feel superior to her,
  • They are contemptuous of her, 
  • They make excuses for their violence.

5.     To make this point, Lundy talks about 3 recent studies of abused boys who grow into men. As you may know, boys who grow up in abusive homes are twice as likely to abuse their partners in adulthood as boys who did not grow up in abusive homes. But the question is, what causes these boys to become abusers themselves? Is it the pain they experience as children, or is it the attitudes they learn from their fathers?

When the boys did not take on the attitudes of the abusers, they were not any more likely to abuse their partners in adulthood than boys who did not grow up in abusive homes. Tweet This

6.     What is living with an abuser like? The abuser thinks he is entitled to everything going his way in the relationship. He believes in his right to rule his partner, and control her in all kinds of ways, usually that have nothing to do with violence. He will use violence just often enough to keep her frightened and cautious around him, so that she will do whatever he tells her to do. He will demean her, order her around, and undermine her self-confidence. He is highly manipulative and calculated, he is almost never out of control. He is a planner, and is always thinking about how to make his life turn out the way he wants it to.

7.     How does an abuser define love? When and abuser says, “I really love you,” it doesn’t mean the same thing that it means to a non-abusive person. It means, “I love what you do for me,” or “I love what you should or must continue to do for me.” He is sincere when he says, “I love you,” it just doesn’t mean what we would think that love means. Instead, it is a very intense desire to own and control his partner. He does not see his partner as a human being, a person separate from himself or his desires. His love for her is more like becoming attached to an object.

 What do we do with this information?

While it can be upsetting to realize what is going on inside the mind of an abuser, (especially if you are in relationship with one), this knowledge can also empower you. As I always do in my blogs, I want to caution you if you are currently in a relationship with an abuser. It would not be wise tell your abuser that you now understand why he behaves the way he does. This will only anger him, possibly putting you in more danger, and it most likely won’t change his behavior. However, I pray this information will be a help to you as you move forward.

Finally, I’d like to point out that while an abuser only loves his partner for what she will do for him, God loves us unconditionally. He does not use us, and he will never abuse us. In fact, he came to earth only to give himself up for us. (John 3:16).

Ephesians 3:17b – 19 says: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Question: What have you believed in the past about why an abuser abuses? Did this blog change your perspective?

I pray God will impress upon you how much He loves you.





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