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.