a stock example of abusive twisting

So with all the bad ace advice I’ve seen… sometimes I worry about y’all’s critical thinking skills.

Maybe one day I’ll write a more in-depth guide to these things, but for now, here’s an example of a hypothetical abuser defending their actions, written by a man with years of professional experience with abusers.  If you want to read this, I can walk you through the kind of overlooked signs I’m talking about.

TW for abuse, naturally — verbal and psychological, in this case.

I feel bad that I said “fuck you” to her; that’s not a good thing to say, especially in front of the children.  I lost it, and I want my family to have an image of me as always being strong and in charge.  I don’t like for them to see me looking ugly the way I did in that argument; it hurts my self-esteem.  But she called me “irresponsible”!  How does she expect me to react when she says something like that?  She can’t talk to me that way.  No the children are going to think I was the bad guy, when she was the cause of it.  If they start siding with her, I’m going to let them know why I was mad.  Now she’s made me look really bad.  Fuck her.

–Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, p.131-132

What do we see going on here?

  • He starts off the segment with remorseful(-seeming) language
  • He says he feels bad.
  • He lists multiple reasons why what he did is bad
  • He worries about the impact on the children
  • He paints himself as the victim

This is a calculated attempt to gain your sympathy.

Now take a closer look at how he expresses “remorse.”

  • He acknowledges that it’s “not a good thing to say” (meaning, he knows it’s socially frowned upon, at least nominally)
  • He frames the matter as if he “lost” control/his temper, as if his actions aren’t entirely his responsibility
  • He talks about the “image” he wants his family to have of him — of being “in charge”
  • He says he doesn’t “like for them to see” him like that — he’s worried about maintaining a positive perception of himself
  • He says it hurts his self-esteem, centering himself as the one who was hurt

Collectively, these paint a certain picture of a man only concerned with himself, his image, and his feelings.

And then he immediately blames his act of verbal abuse on what came before it: her accusation, her criticism, her choices.  He blames his abuse on the victim.  He literally says she “made” him look bad — in that she “made” him abuse her in front of witnesses.

Where does he acknowledge the negative impact on her?  Where does he talk about how she was hurt by it?

  • Nowhere.
  • He doesn’t.

Most importantly:

  • The segment begins with him saying “I feel bad that I said ‘fuck you’ to her”
  • The segment ends with him saying “Fuck her”

This isn’t an apology.  This isn’t remorse.  This is an abuser justifying his abuse.

He starts off sounding sad and regretful and twists it by the end into excusing and repeating the same entitled and aggressive actions.  This is basically the same crap that advice blogs keep falling for.

It’s not always this obvious, but please.  Learn to recognize the pattern.

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