How many times have women with abusive partners asked that question? How baffling must it be to live with someone who seems to love you one minute but wants to hurt you the next.
Lundy Bancroft has worked for 17 years as a counselor specializing in violent and controlling behaviour. One of the team who developed America’s first program for abusive men, he has been closely involved with over 2,000 situations involving domestic abuse. He may be one of the most well qualified people to answer.
‘Why does he do that?’ was written specifically to help people in abusive relationships. The book systematically unravels many of the ‘myths’ about why abusive people behave the way they do. Bancroft suggests that abusive behaviour has very little to do with the way a person feels but everything to do with how they think. He maintains that the major error in thinking that allows a (usually) male to persistently hurt his partner, control her or make her feel chronically mistreated or devalued, is the idea of ‘entitlement’. The myth of entitlement, which is subtly perpetuated in many ways within families and in our society at large, suggest that men have the right to have their partner comply with their demands and preferences without having her own needs taken in to account. It explains how easy it seems to be for so many violent men to believe in the validity of their excuses and justifications for inexcusable behaviour.
Lundy bases his book around twenty-one questions that women repeatedly ask about their abusive partners’ behaviour. He offers a wealth case studies and profiles of the different types of controlling behaviour. There are checklists of warning signs (also see web) reality checks and suggestions for realistically assessing the likelihood of change in a relationship.
Two things struck me repeatedly as I read ‘Why does he do that?’. Firstly I found it difficult to accept that the author was indeed a man. The work seemed so biased towards, and compassionate of, the woman’s point of view. It wasn’t until I found the picture of the author in the back of the book that I was finally convinced that he was indeed a he! The second eye opener was to realize how easy it is for me – and it seems for women in general - to believe that when there is a problem, it is our fault. I suppose this is an obvious corollary to the myth of masculine entitlement. And although it may seem generous and valuable to question what part I may have played in creating a problem I shall be observing my desire to ‘take the blame’ more thoroughly in light of what I have learnt from this excellent book.
“Why does he do that?’ by Lundy Bancroft is available through Amazon.com or via Abebooks…