Why men abuse women

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Here's a list generated by participants in a court-mandated intervention program in Minnesota for men who beat up women.

"The facilitator asked the men what benefits they received from abusing their wives and girlfriends," writes ProPublica's Nina Martin. The answers-—unabashed and chilling— filled a 4 x 8 whiteboard."


• She’s scared and won’t go out and spend money
• She won’t argue
• Feeling superior: she’s accountable to me
• (I) get the money
• Total control in decision-making
• She feels less worthy, so defers to my needs and wants
• (I get) a robot babysitter, maid, sex, food
• Isolate her so her friends can’t confront me
• She works for me
• Convince her she’s nuts
• Convince her she’s unattractive
• Convince her she’s to blame
• Get to write history
• Kids on my side against her
• She won’t call police

Notable Replies

  1. I'm not sure if I like the characterization of these as "unabashed." In a program like this men are encouraged to share how they really feel. Getting people to do that is part of the work of the facilitator. If the men gave honest responses, that doesn't tell us how they feel about themselves for thinking or behaving that way. To me it shows a good level of participation that might bode well for the program.

  2. You beat me to the punch. The first step toward stopping a destructive behavior is recognizing it.

    People can't change how they think or behave unless they're aware of how they think and behave. Most people don't start out choosing how they behave - they behave "naturally", in the way that they've been brought up by society to behave. The don't consciously decide to think or behave a certain way, it's just what they've come to understand as being "normal".

    Getting them to actually think about how they behave, to question why they behave that way, and to ultimately make the active decision to behave differently is the only way people overcome these deeply ingrained problems.

    Unfortunately, there is a very strong reflex to shame and shun people for negative behavior - as if alienating them and making them miserable and defensive is going to somehow grant them an epiphany and let them see themselves in a truer light; as if negativity can somehow breed anything other than more negativity.

    The strange, sad fact of humanity is that it is far too easy for all of us to hurt others who have done wrong, and perpetuate the cycle of blame and hatred. If we want meaningful change, we need to somehow find the strength to forgive them, work to heal them, and help stop the wrong from ever happening again.

  3. Mod note: Keep it on topic and the topic isn't "NOT ALL MEN!"

  4. Then start a new topic.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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Participants