Why Does He Do That, Really Why?

Why Does He Do That?, a book by Lundy Bancroff, speaks to many aspects of dating violence, the primary being why abusers do what they do. In this book Bancroff uses males as the scape goat for offenders because they represent the primary, there are however females that can be the abuser.

In the United State alone at least one out of every three women will be a victim of some sort of domestic violence in her lifetime. In most cases this violence will not be physical, but emotional and psychological. Emotional and Psychological abuse can be the hardest to see from an outside perspective unless one is close to the couple and even then it can go undetected. The largest problem with emotional abuse is that it is far more dangerous and in the long run can be harder to heal.

In the book, Why Does He Do That?, Lundy Bancroff describes some of his time as the former co-director of Emerge, a program for abusers, as well as his time as an expert witness in the courts and legal system in cases dealing with abuse. One part of his book outlines the personality types on abusers, another looks at myths, and the last looks at early warning signs of abuse. In the very beginning Bancroff writes: “Part of how the abuser escapes confronting himself is by convincing you that you are the cause of his behavior, or that you at least share the blame. But abuse is not the product of bad relationship dynamics, and you cannot make things better by changing your own behavior or by attempting to manage your partner better. Abuse is a problem that lies entirely with the abuser” (page 19).

Some of the key myths that Bancroff likes to discuss are:

Abused as a child

Holds in his feelings

Too angry

Loses control

Mentally ill

Hates women

Low self-esteem

Poor conflict resolution

And alcohol and drug abuse

While many of these things do apply, they are not the cause nor the excuse for abuse. Bancroff clearly states through the whole book that men choose to be abusive and that they try to use these myths as a way to gain more control over the situation and even over their partner, therapist, and friends.

Bancroff makes many key points throughout the book and one of them is that the way to change the abuser is to change his thought process. In most cases the abuser abuses because he has changes how he thinks of the word “abuse.” In most cases he lacks a healthy values system, he lacks empathy, he lacks respect for women, and he lacks respect for the person he abuses. He will resist change and it will seem impossible to change his thought process. He will most likely hid his opinions from others because they will disagree, but he feels as if his thoughts and opinions are just. In his mind he believes that how he acts and thinks is based on sound reasoning’s, even if the truth is right in front of him, he will always think that his “truth” is better, he will even insist on it.

Many of the abusers that Bnacroff had worked with have the same traits, they depersonalize their partner, this way they can rationalize why they do the things they do, they can go to sleep knowing that what they are doing is fine, and they can even distance themselves from her feelings because they don’t count, or even exist. Bancroff sums it but best by saying, “Abuse and respect are diametric opposites: you do not respect someone you abuse, and you do not abuse someone you respect” (page 63). It is clear that where there is no respect there is no love, and that is why many women say that they stay, but it is not even there for the abuser. The more a man is abusive, the clearer it is that he only cares about himself.

One key point that Bancroff was very passionate about was change. HE wanted to help abusive men to become better, and he felt as if different forms of therapy would help that. Something that he found however was that men that were seeking “help” were just there to justify what is was they were doing. By going to a therapist and telling them they would change, or getting the therapist to agree with them, gave them the power over others that they inevitably craved. One way that Bancroff was going about changing this stigma was to contact the partner of the abusive relationship. Get both sides of the story to see if the change was really occurring, and it not, find better way to assist the women in danger.

Bancroff would also look for early warning signs to help prevent bad situations from occurring. Some of them include:

If he speaks disrespectfully about his previous partners

If he tells you “you are nothing like my last partner”

If he is disrespectful towards you

If he is different in public

If he is self-centered

If he is never at fault

If he scares you when he is angry

If he has double standards

And if he is attracted to vulnerability

All of these things on their own can be problematic but when many of them are paired together it is a sign that there is a bigger problem than you boyfriend is just kinda a dick. In addition to that, some of these can be okay in minimal situation, but when they are built up, they are bad.

Bancroff gives all of these insights to the readers to help make a difference, to get people to not look the other way when there are signs of abuse, to offer support to those in need, and to take a second look at the trend of objectifying women.

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