Understanding Abusive Women

Battered women, wife beaters, abusive men. We’ve all heard these terms, but what many people don’t realize is that women are often abusive too, and this doesn’t just constitute violence towards their partners. Abusive women can be emotionally, physically and sexually abusive to both their partners and their children and it’s important to understand why they are like this is order to help, or get over any abuse you may have suffered.

The signs of abusive women are often the same as for abusive men; constant berating and put downs, telling their partner or children that they have caused this and it’s the only she can stop you from being ‘bad’, empty promises that she will change and that this will end, convincing you that she can’t help being like this and even comforting you after an episode of abuse. The difficulty is two-fold. Firstly it is difficult to break free from any abusive person, whether male female, mother, father or partner. Secondly, society dictates that men don’t need help and that a man can look after himself. To admit that he is being a woman feels, to a man, as if he is worthless and weak. Of course the opposite is true, but many men would rather anything happen than people find out he is ‘letting’ his wife or girlfriend abuse him.

It can be difficult to understand abusive women if you’re still in the situation of being abused. You have one part of society and your head telling you to get out get out get out, but then the abusive woman and the other part of your head telling you to stay. Children with abusive mothers feel they need to stay with her because there’s nobody else that can play the primary caregiver role in their lives and men feel they need to stay to help her through her destructive behavior. For abusive women this is exactly what they’re looking for, for you to stay and prevent their world from crashing down around them. While you stay, however, they crash yours down for you. Don’t be misled by their guilt trips and bids for attention when she says ‘you can’t leave me, I need you, I’m so sorry’. This woman is not sorry if she carries on with this behavior. She is an adult and while she has been taught faulty coping mechanisms for dealing with frustrations and problems in her life, she needs to take responsibility and stop abusing those around her. What she’s doing is manipulative and nasty, there are no two ways about it.

It’s important to understand that abusive women do have love self esteem and are deeply distressed, but also that staying with the only perpetuates the situation. To quote, you ‘have to be cruel to be kind’, leave and let her learn that being abusive towards those that you love is not a way to guarantee they will stay close to you, or give you what you want.


  1. This was titled understand abusive women. It seems to just bash them not give any insight to how they are. I didn't feel I could take this and pass it in to a man who is been abused by a female. To help him see understand what's going on.

  2. Great article, every word is true, exactly what my relationship is like with this woman. I wish it was longer though, I guess it's quality over quantity just feel like am drowning right now, the more quality articles I read like this the more understanding I have to feel that it is ok to leave, will be talking to what friends I have left out of this burnt bridge relationship about leaving, thank you for the info. She was trying to force me to go to her parents in Victoria a state when I changed my mind in 30 seconds from yes to no, she threaten to kill me but it was ok for her to say no to organize seing the stars in the outback 🙁 thanks for the article, will be book marking it. I have a bucket list and life's to short wasting life on her.

  3. Liz,
    I don't think this article "bashes" abusive women. It gives a realistic assessment of what happens and will continue to happen if people choose to stay with them. It is not devoid of sympathy for women with these tendencies, mentioning their distress, low self-esteem and poor coping strategies. However, the article also rightly points out that staying and trying to help them does not help but merely perpetuates the cycle. I think I would send this article to a man I knew was suffering abuse as a good over-view.

  4. I have been the victim of an ongoing verbal abuse by women, over the last ten years. The abuse has included threats to kill me with their car, threats to tell people that I was messed up, threats to jail me, verbal abuse, belittling me, emotional abuse, persecution, lying to police officers, isolating me from the entire human race. I am in pain. Help.

  5. This did not help me understand anything. My experience is with someone who is verbally abusive and who turns it physical. This person has never said they are sorry and does not think they have done anything wrong at any time. I live in a small area of our house because she says that the rest of the house is hers. I could go on and on. I am seeking counseling. I have gone before and haven’t gained anything out of my sessions. But I will try again.

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