Why do Women Abuse Men?
Partner abuse doesn't just happen man-to-woman. Women can also be abusive to men. Why do girlfriends and wives sometimes abuse their boyfriends and husbands verbally, emotionally, psychologically, financially, physically, and even sexually?
What is Partner Abuse?
The overarching conscious or subconscious goals of partner abuse are to:
- control, or
But why does a particular woman treat her partner that way?
Self-Defense is Only One Possible Reason
Some people think that there is only one reason why a woman might be controlling, demanding, or punishing with her partner. They blame it on the guy.
They think he must deserve to be treated that way because he is doing something wrong. But I think that there are many reasons why a particular woman might behave in an abusive way with her boyfriend or husband.
My Why Women Abuse Men list has 72 possible reasons. Only one of them is self-defense. (Actually self-defense moves a potentially-abusive behavior into the not-abusive category. More on that in a minute.)
There are 71 other answers to questions like:
- Why is my girlfriend or wife so controlling and demanding?
- Why is my brother's girlfriend or wife emotionally and verbally abusive to him?
- Why is my wife physically abusive?
- What are the causes of husband battering?
- Why am I so short-tempered with my boyfriends and destroy my relationships?
Note: If you're interested in why men abuse their female partners, check out my list in another post: Why do men abuse women?
The Abusive Behaviors Continuum
It can be challenging to figure out whether a particular behavior is abusive because that same behavior might be properly labeled as reasonable depending on the circumstances.
Behaviors that are potentially abusive can be placed on a continuum that goes from non-abusive (totally healthy) to very abusive.
If a partner hits you out of self-defense, then that behavior is non-abusive. If they hit you for other reasons, then that behavior moves into the abusive end of the continuum. Exactly where it is placed on the continuum depends on how they hit, how often they hit, and other factors.
Why People Do What They Do
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
Knowing why someone does something can help you understand that person better and help them understand themselves better. But understanding why isn’t the end of it.
Reasons for behavior don’t excuse behavior. There has to be a willingness to use the information found in the “why” to figure out how to change.
Adults are responsible for recognizing when their behaviors and attitudes are harmful to themselves or others and then doing the work to figure out how to stop.
At some point, it no longer matters why she does what she does; it only matters whether she chooses to change and whether her partner is up for giving her another chance.
72 Answers to the Question: Why do Women Abuse Men?
There is a long list of possible answers to the question of why a particular woman exhibits potentially abusive behaviors toward her boyfriend or husband. She may be anything from well-intentioned but unaware that what she is doing is as destructive as it is—to being a full-blown malicious sociopath.
A combination of factors may work together to create an individual’s abusive behaviors and attitudes, or there may be one predominant reason.
A woman may have learned abusive behaviors from:
- being pampered as a child,
- being abused as a child,
- being bullied,
- bullying others,
- previous abuse by another man,
- witnessing her father abuse her mother,
- witnessing her mother abuse her father, or
- cultural sanction, even encouragement, of the abuse of men by women.
A Lack of Skills
She may lack skill in:
- dealing with emotions,
- taking care of herself,
- managing her anger,
- budgeting money,
- being assertive, or
Thoughts and Feelings
She may be any of the following:
- feeling threatened (emotionally, mentally, physically, financially . . .)
- confusing aggression with assertiveness
- driven by polarized dichotomous thinking
- unaware of the effect of her actions
- a perfectionist
- an adrenaline junkie
- projecting her own ways of thinking, doing, or being onto him
- addicted to shopping, gambling, sex . . .
- a man-hater
- drawn to the game of abuse
- just plain mean
Mental and Physical Health
She may have:
- low self-esteem,
- poor impulse control,
- physical illness,
- hormonally challenges,
- alcohol or drug issues,
- a brain injury,
- a bipolar disorder,
- posttraumatic stress, or
- borderline personality.
Conscious and Subconscious Drives
She may want to:
- be heard,
- get his attention,
- better her position,
- get her way,
- punish him for his “wrongs,”
- punish this man for the “wrongs” of men in general or another man in particular,
- compensate for past experiences of not having control over her life,
- push the target of her abuse into doing something “bad,”
- avoid responsibility,
- feel superior,
- trap her man,
- distract from something she has done,
- attain victim status, or
- feel powerful.
She may be motivated by:
- need to protect others,
- love (potentially distorted love),
- personal gain (status, legal, financial . . .),
- revenge (for real or imagined wrongs), or
More on Each Reason Women Abuse Men
I describe each reason why a woman is potentially abusive (and so much more) in my book, Abuse OF Men BY Women, It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It (available on Amazon and on this website that you are now on).
- Tags: abuse OF men BY women
- Ann Silvers