The traits of an abusive man are not as clear cut as people like to think. "Oh, I would know an abuser if I came across one," is a popular belief. No one wants to think that they might fall into the hands of an abuser, much less that they might actually be in an abusive relationship.
So how is it that so many people get caught by abusive men, and women?
Let's have a look at all the traits of an abusive man.
He can be confident, very sure of himself.
He may be charming, a good conversationalist, keeping people around him entertained.
He can be friendly, offering help here and there.
He can be very attentive to what is happening in the environment.
He can make you feel special, asking questions about you and listening carefully to the answers.
It turns out he may have lots of things in common with you. (People like those who are like them.)
He makes you feel that he 'gets you'. He understands you in a way that others do not.
"Wait a minute!" I hear you say. "This all seems fantastic! What's not to like here? This guy seems too good to be true! How could he be an abuser?"
And that's the point!!
Abusers will often present themselves in such a way that they seem to be the ideal partner. What's not to like? Nothing! They are offering you what you want, whatever that is. They are attentive and friendly. They are intensely interested in you. It is so easy to commit to some kind of relationship with them, whether this is an intimate relationship, a business relationship, a friendship, a teacher student relationship or whatever.
There is nothing stopping you from moving forward with him. Unless you know what to look for!!!
The idea about him being too good to be true is the first major signal. The general rule is that if someone seems too good to be true, then they usually are.
The abusers will typically create a false persona to trap their victims. They pretend to be something that they are not. The person they portray themselves to be does not exist. I cannot stress this enough.
This is why people get caught. They are tricked into believing that this new person in their lives is who they say they are. You can read more about the dynamics of this mind control trick here.
Nobody willingly enters into a relationship with an abuser, consciously or unconsciously. They are tricked into it. The abusers know full well that if they show their true nature up front, people will run a mile. Therefore, they hide their true nature initially. The victim gets involved with someone they believe is a fantastic person. But the fact is that this person does not exist. It is a character created by the abuser to fool others, and the abusers can be very good actors. And some of them will keep it up for weeks or even months.
At some point the target commits to the relationship. It may be a woman moving in with her boyfriend, a student starts paying the teacher or a person invests money in a business project. Then the abuser's behavior begins to change.
There are more demands, more criticism, more rules, some of which are even unspoken. In order to keep this fantastic relationship going, the target begins to adapt themselves. (You can read more about these dynamics here and here.)
The abuser becomes more insistent. Things have to be his way. In fact, it becomes his way or the highway. The abuser makes it clear that the relationship is on the line if the victim does not go along with what he wants. Because of the nature of abusive relationships, the victim is actually dependent on the abuser and does not want to lose the relationship at any cost. The abuser will make suggestions about not being able to continue the relationship if things continue the way they are, i.e., if the victim refuses to give the controller what they want. Therefore the victim will get back in line and basically give in to whatever the abuser wants.
The abuser becomes less caring and considerate. I say becomes less of these things but the reality is that the real nature of the abuser is coming out. There is less caring and consideration because the abuser knows that he no longer has a need to engage in the caring behaviors. The target has now become a victim. They are committed. They are trapped. The initial first impression has been so strong that the victim continues to believe that this person is caring and considerate. As they say, get the name of an early riser and you can stay in bed all day.
Abusing men have no real friends. They will happily latch onto yours, of course. Their lack of emotional connection with others means that any bond they have with others has to do with domination and exploitation.
An abusive man is actually cold and cruel. The victim often wonders how a person who supposedly loves them could do such horrible things.
The coldness shows up at other times, too. The abuser may not exhibit normal emotions at particular times. For example, there is no grief shown at funerals, there is no real joy expressed at special moments, no compassion when someone is obviously suffering, and so on.
The supreme confidence mentioned earlier is something that continues throughout the relationship. In fact, it becomes pathological as the relationship goes on. The abuser is always right. Everybody else is wrong. The abuser takes credit for anything that goes well around them. Anything that goes badly is somebody else's responsibility. The abuser's ideas and beliefs are perfect and cannot be questioned.
Selfishness is one of the major traits of an abusive man. It goes beyond wanting their needs and wants satisfied first, second and third with yours a distant fourth. They expect you to live your life the way they want you to live your life. There is zero consideration for anything that you want or anything that is useful or beneficial for you. In fact, they will actively make sure that you can't have what you want, you can't use your talents and you can't have any nice experiences. For example, when you buy some nice clothes, they make disparaging remarks about them. When you have some success at work, they criticize the situation. When you talk about having a good time with your friends, they belittle the friends.
They can be incredibly lazy, doing only the minimum to maintain the relationship. Their general attitude is that if they don't like dong something, they don't do it. They know if they leave it long enough somebody else will do it. Housework, childcare, paperwork and grocery shopping all come into play here.
You cannot negotiate with these types. They say one thing and do another. They do not keep their word because they have no sense of responsibility or obligation to do so. This means they are liars. They will keep information from you (lies of omission), they will distort information to make it more 'palatable' and they will tell outright lies to your face. If you are in a relationship with an abuser of this type, you are living under an avalanche of lies every day.
They have no respect for your boundaries and limits. The truth is that they are actively pushing you beyond your boundaries, forcing you to do and accept things that you would not have put up with in the past. When you try and set a boundary they perceive this as a challenge to their dominance and set about tearing it down as quickly as possible.
They have no qualms about using fear and guilt to control others. The problem with recognizing this is that many people in abusive situations don't actually realize how much fear and guilt they are living under until they have had a chance to separate and spend some time away from the manipulator.
They have the ability to make you doubt yourself, and do things that are literally crazy making. They deny things happened or claim things happened when they did not (gaslighting). Lots of their behaviors are incomprehensible unless you examine things from the point of view of manipulation. Until the victim realizes they are being manipulated on purpose, it is impossible to make sense of what is going on in the relationship.
They destroy your personality. This is part and parcel of the control they exercise over others. People feel that they have lost themselves in the relationship, they don't know who they are anymore or that in some way, who they are is the root cause of all the problems in the relationship.
A major trait of many abusive people is the disordered personality. If you have not considered that you might be dealing with a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist then you should investigate this. Today!
These abusers use mind control techniques to dominate and exploit others.
You can read about many more of the characteristics of manipulative people here.
You can read more here about what a controlling relationship is, controlling behavior in a relationship, how to recognize a psychopath, how to leave an abusive relationship and help for victims of psychopaths.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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