Please, do buy your own copy - both because I won't be excerpting all of it, and because this author deserves our $upport.
From the Introduction:
Another central goal of mine is to offer assistance to each woman who is struggling with how she is being treated in a relationship, regardless of what label she may put on her partner’s behavior. Words like control and abuse can be loaded ones, and you may not feel that they fit your particular circumstances. I’ve chosen to use the term abusers to refer to man who use a wide range of controlling, devaluing, or intimidating behaviors. In some cases I’m talking about fiscal batterers and at other times about men who use or insult their partners but never frighten or intimidate them. Some of the men I described in the pages ahead change moods so drastically and so often that a woman could never feel sure what they are like, much less attach a label. Your partner may be arrogant, or may play mind games, or may act selfishly over and over again, but his better aspects may make you feel that he is miles away from being an “abuser.” Please don’t let my language put you off; I’ve simply chosen the word abuser as a shorthand way of saying “men who chronically make their partners feel mistreated or devalued.” You can adopt a different term if you know one that fits your partner better. <snip>
If the person are involved with is the same sex as you are, you have a place here too. Lesbians and gay men who abuse their partners exhibit much of the same thinking, and most of the same tactics excuses, that abusive heterosexual men do. In this book I’ve used the term he for the abuser and she for the abused partner to keep my discussion simple and clear, but abuse lesbians and gay men are very much in my thoughts, right alongside of abuse straight women. Of course, you will need to change the gender language to figure relationship, for which I apologize in advance. You will also find a section in chapter 6 where I speak specifically about the similarities and differences in same-sex abusers.
Similarly, this book includes stories from men from a very wide range of racial and cultural backgrounds. Although the attitudes and behaviors of controlling and abusive men vary somewhat from culture to culture, I found that their similarities greatly outweigh their differences. If your partner is a person of color or an immigrant, or if you are a member of one of these groups yourself, you’ll find that much of what this book discusses, or perhaps all of it, fits your experience quite well. <snip> I further discuss some specific racial and cultural issues in chapter 6.
I never wanted to label it abuse.
He was sick, he was stressed out, he had a momentary lapse... And I absolutely loathed the word "victim" as applied to myself. I am loving, smart, capable, and strong - how could someone like me be a victim?
Reality? He had a pattern of being controlling, demeaning, and verbally abusive to me. I had a pattern of making excuses for him, and refusing to call it abuse - even to myself.
In the beginning, during the courtship or honeymoon stage, he treated me like he thought I was wonderful, special, valuable... almost all the time. That special treatment never entirely disappeared - and that is why we stay. We keep getting glimpses of who we think the real person, the kind, loving person is, under all the crap, and think if we just did - something - right, better, found the way to explain, we could once again have that incredible relationship with the person we loved.
Like those rats in experiments, where if sometimes when they push a bar they get a treat, and sometimes an electric shock, we'll keep pressing that bar, hoping, that next time, it'll be good.
|via Wikimedia Commons|
Once more, on the male-female thing
Bancroft's book is (primarily) about male on female abuse. Our discussion, here, is not predicated on "bad men; helpless victimized women" because although there are a number of factors that often give men an unfair societal and legal advantage, yes, women abuse men too. Do not feel if you are a man being abused by a woman, that this book and our discussion has little to offer you. Please buy the book and read along.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions posted here, and any comment responses, are not to be considered professional advice and are not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical or mental health professional. If you are involved in a relationship that includes physical, financial, and/or emotional violence, please contact a professional for help and assistance.
In the US:
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) TTY- 1-800-787-3224
RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network)
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI
International Resources linked here.