Patriarchy Isn't The Only or Main Reason for Partner Abuse
The over emphasis of patriarchy as the reason for partner abuse and domestic violence is ill-placed and actually gets in the way of reducing the occurrence of partner abuse and thwarts repairing people's lives.
What's in This Post
|What is partner abuse?|
|The Patriarchal Cause Theory|
|Why Abusive People Abuse Their Partners|
|Reasons for Behavior Don't Excuse Behavior|
|71 Reasons Why Partners Abuse|
What is partner abuse?
Let's begin by defining partner abuse:
Partner abuse is bullying within a romantic relationship. It is a pattern of controlling, demeaning, and/or punishing behaviors and attitudes with a dating, cohabiting, or marriage partner, during or after the relationship.
At its core, partner abuse is driven by self-centered motivations.
The Patriarchal Cause Theory
Many people working in the field of partner abuse and domestic violence think that:
(a) partner abuse is a male-to-female problem, and
(b) it occurs because of a patriarchal society.
I disagree with both (a) and (b).
Partner abuse happens in all sorts of gender configurations in straight and LGBTQ relationships.
The theory that partner abuse is because of patriarchy locks the door to recognition that partner abuse is not just a male-to-female thing. It supplies a one-size-fits-all explanation of partner abuse that in reality fits-very-few.
Attachment to patriarchy as the one and only cause of DV is one of the reasons why it is so hard for people to recognize abuse of men by women when they see it or are living it.
Click here to see the other 7 reasons I've noticed for why this happens.
Why Abusive People Abuse Their Partners
My Why Partners Abuse list has 71 possible reasons. Only one of them is patriarchy. There are 70 other answers to the question: Why do people abuse their wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners?
People always have reasons for thinking what they think and doing what they do. They may not be good or healthy reasons. They may not be rational or logical reasons. They may not be conscious reasons.
We are each made up of our biology (genetics and health), everything that’s ever happened to us, and everything we’ve ever been exposed to. That combination creates our thoughts—both conscious and subconscious—and feelings in the moment. Thoughts and feelings lead to behavior.
Reasons for Behavior Don't Excuse Behavior
In presenting this list of reasons people may behave abusively, I am not excusing away the behavior.
Discovering why someone does something is an important step in figuring out how to help the people involved.
71 Reasons Why Partners Abuse
Note: A combination of factors may work together to create an individual’s abusive behaviors and attitudes, or there may be one predominant reason.
An individual may have learned abusive behaviors from:
1. being pampered as a child,
2. being abused as a child,
3. being bullied,
4. bullying others,
5. previous abuse by another woman or man,
6. witnessing their father abuse their mother,
7. witnessing their mother abuse their father, or
8. a society that supports abuse toward partners (male or female), ie patriarchy or anti-male sentiment.
They may lack skill in:
9. dealing with emotions,
10. taking care of themself,
11. managing their anger,
12. budgeting money,
13. being assertive, or
They may be any of the following:
18. feeling threatened (emotionally, mentally, physically, financially . . .)
19. confusing aggression with assertiveness
20. driven by dichotomous (black/white, polarized) thinking
21. unaware of the effect of their actions
24. a perfectionist
25. an adrenaline junkie
26. hormonally challenged (ie too much or too little testosterone, menopausal, PMS, on steroids...)
27. projecting their own ways of thinking, doing, or being onto their partner
29. addicted to shopping, gambling, sex . . .
30. abusing alcohol or drugs
32. a woman-hater or man-hater
33. drawn to the game of abuse
37. just plain mean
They may have:
38. low self-esteem,
39. poor impulse control,
40. physical illness,
41. a brain injury,
45. a bipolar disorder,
46. posttraumatic stress, or
They may want to:
48. be heard,
49. get their partner's attention,
50. better their position,
51. get their way,
52. punish their partner for the partner's “wrongs,”
53. punish this woman or man for the “wrongs” of women/men in general or another woman/man in particular,
54. compensate for past experiences of not having control over their life,
55. push the target of their abuse into doing something “bad,”
56. avoid responsibility,
57. feel superior,
58. trap the partner,
59. distract from something they have done, or
60. feel powerful.
They may be motivated by:
63. need to protect others,
64. love (potentially distorted love),
68. personal gain (status, legal, financial . . .),
70. revenge (for real or imagined wrongs), or
- Ann Silvers