Tremendous variation exists among abusive styles. An abusive partner may change so much from day to day that he could not belong to any type. It is helpful to keep in mind that an abuser can have days when he turns into a loving, attentive and thoughtful partner. At these times, you may feel that his problems have finally gone away. However, abuse always comes back eventually unless the abuser has dealt with his abusiveness.
Below are the ten types of abusive men which are retrieved from a book called, “Why Does He Do That”, by Lundy Bancroft. If you think that you may be in an abusive relationship, I highly recommend you have this book in your library, in addition to seeking therapy.
- The Demand Man: “It’s your job to do things for me. If I am unhappy about any aspect of my life, it’s your fault”
The demand man is highly entitled. He criticizes you constantly. He expects your life to revolve around meeting his needs and is angry and blaming if anything gets in the way. If you are a partner of this man, you may feel that nothing you do is good enough and it is impossible to make him happy. Not every highly demanding partner is abusive. In demand man, there is a little sense of give and take. His demands for emotional support, caretaking and sexual attention are well out of proportion to his contributions. He often feels that you owe him. He exaggerates and overvalues his own contributions.
- Right: “If you would just accept that I know what’s right, our relationship would go so much better. Your own life would go better too”
Mr. Right considers himself the ultimate authority on every subject. He speaks with absolute certainty and brushes your opinions aside. He seems to see the world as a huge classroom, in which he is the teacher and you are his student. When you discuss a certain topic, he turns it into a clash between right and wrong, or between intelligence and stupidity. He has the answers to your conflicts at work, how you should spend your time, and how you should raise your children. He is especially knowledgeable of your faults and believes that tearing you down is the way to improve you.
- The Water Torturer: “As long as I am calm, you can’t say anything I do is abusive, no matter how cruel. I know exactly how to get under your skin”
Water torturer assaults you psychologically without raising his voice. He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push you over the edge. He uses sarcasm and mockery, mimics your voice, or openly laughs at you. In an argument, you may end up yelling in frustration or leave the room crying. In this situation, the water torturer says, “See, you are the abusive one, not me. You are the one who is yelling and refusing to talk rationally. I wasn’t even raising my voice”.
- The Drill Sergeant: “I need to control your every move, or you will do it wrong”
He takes controlling behavior to its extreme, runs your life in every way that he can. He can criticize your clothing, can tell you if you can go out or not and can interfere with your work. He wants you to have no one close to you, so he ruins your relationship with friends and relatives, or simply forbids you to see them. The drill sergeant is often fanatically jealous that he may verbally assault you with accusations that you are cheating on him or checking out other men. The drill sergeant is almost sure to be physically violent sooner or later, probably beginning with threats and then eventually escalating to assault.
- Sensitive: “You should be grateful to me for not being like those other men”
He is soft-spoken, gentle, and supportive -when he is not being abusive. He loves the language of feelings and often openly shares his insecurities, fears, and emotional injuries. If you start to feel chronically mistreated by him, you are likely to assume that something is wrong with you. If you complain about him to others, they may think you must be spoiled. If you are in a bad mood one day and say something unfair or insensitive, it may not be enough for you to give him a sincere apology and accept responsibility. On the other hand, when your feelings are hurt, he will brush over it quickly -nothing in the world is more important than his feelings.
- The Player: “It’s not my fault that women find me irresistible”
He is generally good looking – or he thinks he is. In the early part of a relationship, he seems head over heels in love and wants to spend as much time as possible in bed together. After a while, he flirts with women around him, including friends of yours. Sexual undertones seem to run through most of his interactions with females. Women around the player seem to get angry at each other a lot, rather than at him. These tensions work out well for him, diverting attention from his infidelity and dishonesty. Chronic infidelity is abusive itself, but the player is irresponsible, callous in dealing with your feelings and periodically verbally abusive.
- Rambo: “Men should never hit women, because it is unmanly to do so. Exceptions can be made if my own partner’s behavior is bad enough”.
He is usually aggressive with everybody, not just with you. He has an exaggerated, stereotypical view of what a man is supposed to be, which goes hand in hand with seeing women as delicate, inferior, and in need of protection. He has little patience for weakness, fragility, or indecision. Because he lacks fear or pretends to be, he can make you feel safe and protected at the beginning of the relationship. However, he lacks respect for women and this disrespect combined with violent tendencies, means that it is only a matter of time before he will be the one you need protection from. Many highly “masculine” men are not Rambo. There are plenty of “tough guys” out there who are friendly to everyone, avoid aggressive interactions but enjoy lifting weights, playing rough sports, hunting, and other aspects of stereotypical masculinity. With Rambo, I am referring to disrespect, intimidation, and perceived sense of superiority towards women.
- The Victim: “I’ve had it so hard that I’m not responsible for my own actions”
Life has been hard and unfair for the victim. The victim’s main idea is, “Everybody has done me wrong, especially women”. He tells you that he has been underestimated, burned by people he trusted, and his good intentions have been misunderstood. He maneuvers you into hating his ex-partner by distorting the facts or with rumor spreading. He tells persuasive stories about his painful past and gets your compassion and sympathy. When you criticize him, he blames you of joining the parade of people who have been cruel or unfair to him. He tells you that you have proven you are just like the rest. If your partner speaks in degrading or superior ways about his ex-partner or makes everything went wrong in the relationship her fault, it is likely that he was the abusive one.
- The Terrorist: “You have no right to leave me. Your life is in my hands”
Tends to be both highly controlling and extremely demanding. He initiates fear and terrorizes with threats. He gets enjoyment out of causing pain and fear. He is likely to have been severely abused as a child, which generally is not true for other abuser types. However, you cannot help him to heal. This may be difficult to accept, since the hope of helping him overcome his problems may be what gets you through the terror of living with him. You need to focus on getting yourself safe. The terrorist’s top goal is to paralyze you with fear so that you will not dare think of leaving him or cheating on him. The trauma of living with this kind of terror can be profound and can make it extremely difficult for you to think clearly about strategies for escaping to safety.
- The Mentally Ill or Addicted Abuser: “If you challenge me about my abusiveness, you are being mean to me, considering these other problems I have”
Substance abuse or mental illness does not cause abuse but can increase the risk of violence. Paranoia, severe depression, psychosis, OCD, and antisocial personality disorder – psychopathy or sociopathy, can increase the likelihood of physical violence. The abuser often goes on and off medication and this situation causes unpredictability in his mood and behaviors. If your partner is not taking his medication as how it is prescribed, I suggest you take extra precaution for your safety such as creating a safety or exit plan. This plan may include calling the police, creating fast dialing contacts, having a personal bag in your car with essential items such as cash and clothes, and determining a safe shelter to stay in case of emergencies such as a friend’s house that your partner doesn’t know the location.
If your partner fits into at least one of the abusive type definitions, please contact me and schedule a session. I am here to support you.