Why do Women Abuse Men?

Why do Women Abuse Men?


Intimate partner violence (IPV) and partner abuse are getting a lot of deserved attention, but the discussion needs to broaden to include all gender configurations. The DV narrative typically focuses on men abusing their wives and girlfriends. In reality, significant numbers of women engage in abusive behavior toward their male partners.

Loud authoritative voices adamantly declare that all abusive behavior from women toward their husbands and boyfriends are self-defense reactions to male bad behavior. I don't agree. 

In this article, l present many reasons why women might engage in abusive behavior toward their male partners. [HINT: One of them is self-defense. There are 70 other reasons.]


What's in This Post

 Does Abuse of Men by Women Happen?
 What is Partner Abuse?
 Self-Defense is Only One Possible Reason for Aggressive Behavior
 The Abusive Behaviors Continuum 
 Reasons for Behavior Don't Excuse Behavior
 71 Answers to the Questions: Why do Wives Abuse Their Husbands and Boyfriends? Why are Women Abusive to Men?
 Book Explaining Each Reason Women Abuse Men


Does Abuse of Men by Women Happen?

Many general population research projects over the last 50 years show that partner abuse happens in all gender configurations of couples and that female-to-male abuse is as common as male-to-female abuse. 

I go into more of the research in another post: How Many Men are Abused by Women?

Here I'll just mention some statistics from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2022 report on domestic violence

  • Similar numbers of men and women experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime:  49.4% of women and 45.1% of men

  • Similar numbers of men and women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime: 42.0% of women and 42.3% of men

  • Similar numbers of men and women experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime:  47.3% of women and 44.2% of men

  • Similar numbers of men and women are subjected to coercive control from their partners in their lifetime: 46.2% of women, 42.8% of men
  • Considerably more men than women reported being the target of physical violence from their partner in the last 12 months: 4.5% of women (5.6 million) and 5.5% of men (6.4 million).

  • Virtually identical percentages of women and men reported being on the receiving end of severe physical violence from their partner in the last 12 months: 3.1% of women (3.9 million) and 3.0% of men (3.5 million)


how often are men abused by wife or girlfriend


What is Partner Abuse?

Partner abuse, also known as domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) can happen in any romantic relationship with current partners or ex's.

It takes on many forms:

    Partner Abuse and DV books by Ann Silvers


    Goals of Partner Abuse

    The overarching conscious or subconscious goals of partner abuse are to demean, control, or punish the target of the abuse.

    But why does a particular woman treat her partner that way?


    Self-Defense is Only One Possible Reason for Aggressive Behavior

    Some people (including dominant voices in DV treatment and research) 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 71 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 70 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.


      Spousal abuse, emotionally abusive wife, girlfriend, woman continuum


      If a partner hits you out of genuine self-defense, then that behavior is non-abusive. If they hit you for other reasons, or use self-defense as an excuse for unwarranted aggressiveness, then that behavior moves into the abusive end of the continuum. Exactly where it is placed on the continuum depends on circumstances, 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. 


      Thoughts and feelings are created by 3 things. Why women abuse men. Why people do what they do


      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.


      Reasons for behavior don't excuse behavior


      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.


      Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It


      71 Answers to the Questions: Why do Wives Abuse Their Husbands and Boyfriends? Why are Women Abusive to 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.


      Partner Abuse May be Based in Learned Behavior

      abuse may be based on learned behavior 


      A woman 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 man,
      6. witnessing her father abuse her mother,
      7. witnessing her mother abuse her father, or
      8. cultural sanction, even encouragement, of the abuse of men by women.

        An Abusive Partner May Lack Important Skills


        partners may be abusive because they lack communication skills


        She may lack skill in:

        1. dealing with emotions,
        2. taking care of herself,
        3. managing her anger,
        4. budgeting money,
        5. being assertive, or
        6. communication. 


        Abusive Behaviors May be Sourced in Unchecked Thoughts and Feelings 

        abusive behavior may be because of thoughts and feelings 


        She may be any of the following:

        1. frustrated
        2. exhausted
        3. stressed
        4. feeling threatened (emotionally, mentally, physically, financially . . .)
        5. confusing aggression with assertiveness
        6. driven by polarized dichotomous thinking
        7. unaware of the effect of her actions
        8. insecure
        9. over-reactive
        10. a perfectionist
        11. an adrenaline junkie 
        12. projecting her own ways of thinking, doing, or being onto him
        13. lazy
        14. addicted to shopping, gambling, sex . . .
        15. self-centered
        16. a man-hater
        17. drawn to the game of abuse
        18. histrionic
        19. narcissistic
        20. sociopathic
        21. just plain mean

          Abusive Women May be Suffering from Mental or Physical Health Issues

          abusive women may have mental or physical health problems 

          She may have:

          1. low self-esteem,
          2. poor impulse control,
          3. physical illness,
          4. hormonal challenges,
          5. alcohol or drug issues,
          6. a brain injury,
          7. dementia,
          8. depression,
          9. anxiety,
          10. a bipolar disorder,
          11. posttraumatic stress, or
          12. borderline personality.

            Abuse in Intimate Relationships May be Stimulated by Conscious or Subconscious Drives 

             Abusive behavior may have conscious or subconscious drives

            She may want to:

            1. be heard,
            2. get his attention,
            3. better her position,
            4. get her way,
            5. punish him for his “wrongs,”
            6. punish this man for the “wrongs” of men in general or another man in particular,
            7. compensate for past experiences of not having control over her life,
            8. push the target of her abuse into doing something “bad,”
            9. avoid responsibility,
            10. feel superior,
            11. trap her man,
            12. distract from something she has done,
            13. attain victim status, or
            14. feel powerful.

              Abusive Behaviors and Attitudes May be Driven by a Variety of Other Motivations

               reasons why women abuse men

              She may be motivated by:

              1. fear,
              2. self-defense,
              3. need to protect others,
              4. love (potentially distorted love),
              5. hatred,
              6. selfishness,
              7. jealousy,
              8. personal gain (status, legal, financial . . .),
              9. retaliation,
              10. revenge (for real or imagined wrongs), or
              11. obsession. 

                Book Explaining 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). 


                Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It


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                • Ann Silvers
                Comments 1
                • Endoflilith

                  It is not fashionable to ask this question nowadays. And emotional abuse is so much more widespread, painful, lasting, and unseen, than physical abuse. It also seems to be perpetrated more, and definitely more skillfully by women than by men, because women’s brains are wired by evolution to be better at emotional manipulation and expressing aggression this way. If their power was made conscious and directed at serving the greater good, combined with critical thinking and awareness of their biases, we wouldn’t be dealing with the widespread male-hating that’s present today even among corporations, in movies and in politics. Women would be more resistant against cultural subversion too, but right now, due to their dominantly emotional nature and because of how neurotic (therefore less aware and easier to manipulate) everyone is today, they are more vulnerable to what they learn about genders and equality in our subverted educational system and in the media. Even in spiritual circles, even at the biggest tantra event in the UK, men were shamed by teachers and made to apologize for what “men have done to women”, what the “male principle” has done to the “feminine principle”. Demonizing masculine energies, natural principles, males, and putting females on the pedestal as a desirable alternative. It’s quite demonic to tell the truth, that now even masculine energies, principles, are considered wrong, not just men. Historically, feminine energies/principles have always been revered just like masculine ones (openness, nurturing, intuition, energies vs. action, inspiration, protection, awareness) and just women as biological entities were looked down on. But now there’s an all-out demonization of males and masculinity, and this is not an accident. It serves a purpose that we can identify when we study cultural subversion as Yuri Bezmenov explains it. We haven’t lived in darker times, and enlightening articles like yours are much needed.

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