Social Question

sophie123's avatar

Why do some men abuse women?

Asked by sophie123 (45 points ) November 18th, 2009

I am looking for the reasons behind domestic violence – is it to get control, a psychological problem, or anything else?

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45 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

Abusive men were once abused little boys. It’s the cycle that’s the issue- not necesarriy the person. Women also abuse men and don’t discount same gender on gender violence.

The cycle of abuse is bigger than the gender of those it affects.

Randy's avatar

I don’t think it’s always a cycle. There had to be a starting point at some point. I think it has to do with a power struggle or feeling of control.

syz's avatar

@gemiwing I have serious doubts that every abusive male was abused as a child. I also have issue with “it’s the cycle that’s the issue – not necessarily the person”. That sounds almost as if you’re absolving the abuser of blame. If so, I disagree strongly.

edit: Sorry, your second response seems to negate my first impression. I seem to have misunderstood.

gemiwing's avatar

@Randy Good point. I should have been more specific. It does start somewhere- in my experience and research the starting point tends to be generations back. The cycle being the emotional education typical of a dysfunctional family being passed down through each generation.

jaketheripper's avatar

Some people just can’t handle the kind of frustration that often occurs between men and women without resorting to violence

gemiwing's avatar

@syz Oh no, not at all. As adults it is our job to ‘fix’ (or at least stop) any possible damage we received as children. We have to take responsibility for our actions- just not the actions of others that hurt us.

Abuse, the definition I’m using, is about more than being hit. I’m including all forms of abuse and dysfunction.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Randy I agree. I think some men just like to feel superior to women & they like the feeling of power.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@jaketheripper has it. also it’s people that are cowards, would probably never get into a scrap with another man.

qashqai's avatar

Because they are stupid assholes. Simple as that.

avvooooooo's avatar

Feelings of inadequacy.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@avvooooooo I agree. You hit the nail on the head. They have low self esteem, so they have to prove somehow that they’re strong in some areas. And beating on a woman just doesn’t cut it.

mowens's avatar

Because that is what happened in their family.

CMaz's avatar

For the same reason women abuse men.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Randy For a lot of people the starting point of the cycle was colonization in some form.

But it also has other factors as well as you point out. Just answering the question in terms to where the cycle began.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

For both sexes: control
I believe it’s the want of control not to break the partner down so much as to modify their behavior so that the abusing partner feels secure their victim will not humiliate them, embarass them, act in ways that make the victim appear unattractive to the abuser, act in ways that give the abuser a sense of pride with public, family and friends. Thing is, when looking at the relationship from the outside, most of us see mostly what the abuser fears, they are disillusioned.

CMaz's avatar

“as to modify their behavior so that the abusing partner feels secure”

Only problem is it can never get to that point. It becomming constant abuse with no ending.

timothykinney's avatar

A lack of compassion and awareness usually precedes any type of violence against another person. This lack of awareness could be a lack of empathy, or a lack of self-awareness. Men who hit their partners may regret it later, but have so little self-awareness that they do not refrain from doing it again. This is unfortunate, but is at the root cause of all suffering.

We should wake up to ourselves and to others- men and women.

Jack79's avatar

Why do some women abuse men?

People are people. They can be good or bad, and usually they are both. Each person has their own reasons, and each relationship is unique, and based not only on the two people’s personalities, but also the dynamics between them. You cannot really discuss the issue using vast generalisations like that, you have to look at each individual case and study it closely.

btw there are more women abusing men than men abusing women nowadays in most western societies, but of course we never hear about it, the stereotype (even in legal terminogoly wording) still being that the victim of domestic abuse is typically female, even though it is male in more than 50% of the cases. This however is irrelevant, as it’s still people vs people, and not men vs women anyway

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jack79 Relevant or not where did you get that information?

Judi's avatar

A lot of people have “rage control” issues, and it doesn’t mean they were abused. It can be a symptom of bi-polar, post traumatic stress, or they could be just plain ass holes.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’ll add this:
If most abuses were easily identified as being apathetic, without compassion and awareness of their partner’s needs then they’d be easier to avoid in the first place. Problem with abusers is many really do recognize the needs of their partners but manipulate those needs for their own selfish purposes and justify to themselves with twisted reasoning the negatives the rest of us see.

dpworkin's avatar

A great deal of domestic violence takes place in the context of sexual jealousy, particularly when there exist doubts about paternity. This can trigger an uncontrollable urge to violence in certain men, and it is possible that it is related to ancient, hardwired formerly adaptive practices such as infanticide and matricide to ensure the propagation of one’s own genes.

Of course, not every case is the same, but it turns out that in evolutionary psychology this is thought to be a likely explanation, as it predicts for the fact that in women over the age of 18, over 50% of deaths by homicide are at the hands of a jealous spouse or lover.

wundayatta's avatar

Abusers seem to abuse because it gives them a sense of power. They tend to be insecure, in general, and they use any perceived infraction or sleight by their wives and girlfriends as an excuse to abuse. They are proud of abusing, believing that somehow this makes them more of a man. They will blame it on their women, on nagging, or anything else.

So I think it comes out of insecurity, and the ability to physically control the woman, which makes them feel better about themselves. These guys have shorter fuses. They are disagreeable and unforgiving, and will pop off about anything. These men need power and control, and will use women to get those things.

This article describes a study designed to answer this question. Here is an interesting quote from the article:

In fact, Ou found that unquestioned obedience to authority defined abusers more than their attitudes toward women or wife beating.

“Abusers are less forgiving of those who violate law and order and more punitive to those they consider weak,” she says. “They favor harsher punishment for lawbreakers. They feel little compassion for those they regard as inferior. When they treat women as inferior, sexism becomes a subpart of their authoritarianism.”

It seems that marriage makes the severity of the abuse worse, perhaps because it’s harder to get out of a marriage than out of other kinds of relationships.

Sabotage82's avatar

I love how you assume men are the only ones doing the beating. Women can be just as abusive. Why are women abusive to men? Answer my question without being a ass and maybe ill consider answering yours.

dpworkin's avatar

@Sabotage82 They are two different phenomena. I was an abused spouse myself, for over seven years. I needed a lot of help before I was able to leave the marriage.

sophie123's avatar

I am not assuming anything @Sabotage82 this is a discussion for everyone. I am, however doing research particularly aimed at male abusers and female victims. You are the only one who sounds like an ass on here. Thank you to all those kind people who decided to give constructive and helpful answers.

bunnygrl's avatar

Not all abuse is physical. I have a friend who truly believes she is lucky that her hubby “agreed” to marry her because it meant she wasn’t “left on the shelf”. She believes this because he’s made her believe that no one else would have her. She lives a very harsh existence (about the only think he doesn’t do is hit her) but won’t hear a word against him. I should say that he isn’t a terrible person either, just very insecure I think and because he has so little control over the outside world he controls her instead. My Grandmother told me when i was very young that you should never come between a couple, it never ends well and more often than not, your friend will side with the man being bad to her anyway, and you’ll end up the bad guy. Also, I’ve known some lovely guys who have had a terrible life because of their partners, so yes, abuse can be experienced just as badly by men as women. hugs all, xx

Jack79's avatar

@RedPowerLady same place everyone seems to get the info that “men abuse women”. In fact, surveys both in the US and EU have shown that men who are abused by their wives never report the crime, whereas women do not only report the crime when it does happen (again, not always) but often when it doesn’t. More than 50% of the reported cases of domestic violence in Greece for example are made up, and fewer than 10% are proven (which does not mean they didn’t happen). None of the attacks against men are ever investigated, and a man reporting domestic violence will at best be ridiculed. In 2008, there have been three times more deaths of males than females as a result of domestic violence.

Since I’m often accused of not quoting: http://nzmera.orconhosting.net.nz/resolutn.html

Again, my point is not that the question should be inverted to “why do women abuse men?” but that we should move away from the stereotypes and talk about the violence and not the “bad man good woman” fairy-tale. I know of at least 5 men, including myself, who got abused by their wives (mine tried to kill me twice and our daughter at least 3 times). I have never heard of any husband that ever abused his wife. I’m sure there are plenty all over the world, the difference is that we hear about them but not about the opposite. And I also know of one man who was falsely accused even though he never lay a finger on his wife. I know for a fact that he wasn’t even in his home the night he supposedly hit her.

And once again, may I stress that I’m not trying to turn the argument around, just remove it from a gender issue into an issue regarding violence between humans, regardless of gender.

Blondesjon's avatar

We abuse each other because we are not as far removed from the apes in the forests and the beasts in the fields as we would like to believe.

avvooooooo's avatar

Women tend to use objects when abusing men while men are less likely to pick up their frying pan/baseball bat and whale on someone.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Why do men abuse women?

You will find that most men that abuse women have a history (not necessarily of always being abused) but definitely of having felt disempowered especially by women or around women all their lives. They may have had a controlling mother, didn’t have dates in high school and/or was bullied, saw his father treat his mother this way and thinks it’s normal.

When a man is insecure and feels powerless in the outside world, he comes home and takes it out on his partner.

And let me tell you this…....abusive men can be disarmingly charming and “normal”. The smart ones never let anyone outside the house know that they are abusing at home.

Stinks really.

mattbrowne's avatar

Bad parenting. Sometimes bad genes as well.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jack79 I know this is late, i was having computer problems. But I also happen to know that the majority of women who are abused do not report their abuse. I did read your link which seems to support some of your information. But I am skeptical still because there is also information that says quite the opposite. I realize this isn’t your point but I just found what you are saying quite odd.

Jack79's avatar

Yes, there are many women who do not report their abuse. There are also many women who report abuse that never happened. On the other hand, there are absolutely no men who ever report abuse.

The findings of research here in Europe mention two interesting facts (apart from the obvious social reasons) which may explain what you see as odd:
1) as avvoooooo also mentioned, exactly because women are usually physically weaker, they use various weapons. Female abuse against men is also often premeditated, and one of the preferred media is poison. So a woman ends up in a hospital with a black eye, but a man ends up straight in the morgue with a slit throat, or poisoned.
2) women are not always physically weaker as we assume. We think of the stereotypical couple, a strong healthy 30-year-old man, and a healthy but more fragile 30-year-old woman for example. But abuse does not happen so much in these age groups (at least in the cases I’m referring to). A 30-year-old woman who gets abused will often seek help or simply divorce. And a 30-year-old man can obviously defend himself. But the abuse against men happens at much older ages, and because men usually marry younger women, the male abuse typically refers to a fairly healthy 60-year-old woman hitting her 70-year-old (or even 80-year-old) husband. The average age for abused men (with what little data we have here in Europe) is much higher than the average age for abused women.

Of course one could always imagine that a man beats up his wife for 30 years, and then she simply takes revenge when he’s too old and weak to retaliate.

Also, a huge part of domestic violence that is often overlooked is children against parents. Again, referring to grown children abusing elderly and weak parents.

Judi's avatar

@Jack79 ; My nephew reported when his ex stormed into his home and started slapping him and HE ended up in jail because he pushed her away. I guess that explains why men don’t report abuse.

timothykinney's avatar

@Jack79 I take exception to “a 30-year-old man can obviously defend himself.” If he chooses not to be violent in return (due to fears of being indicted for domestic violence, for example), he may have no way to defend himself against a violent woman. It would not be completely impossible for him to block a punch with his arm resulting in her bruising her hand and then claiming he broke it when he tried to exert force over her.

If someone is in an abusive relationship, there is no safety (legal or physical). Just leave.

dpworkin's avatar

@timothykinney “Just leave” is pretty simplistic advice. Battered Spouse Syndrome by its very definition includes difficulty in leaving the relationship. I needed psychotherapeutic help in order to leave, the process took a long time, and the sequellae were difficult, continued for years and included an episode of major depressive disorder.

timothykinney's avatar

@pdworkin To be sure, there are complex issues that arise. However, before those issues can be addressed there needs to be an awareness that leaving is an option and a good one. I meant that simplistic advice in this vein.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jack79 Of course there are men that report abuse. I work in social services and I happen to know that they do.

Also the number of women who falsely report abuse is not as high as you may think.

I don’t argue that women abuse men and it goes unrreported in high numbers. In fact I understand that. All I am sayings is that I feel like some of the statements being made are “sweeping statements” (all-or-nothing) and that does not reflect the reality of abuse.

Jack79's avatar

@RedPowerLady so the original question is not such a sweeping generalisation, but my answer that things are not always one-sided is? I never said that men never abuse women and women abuse men. What I have said is that evidence in Europe has shown that:

1) men never report the crime
2) if they ever do, they are ridiculed
3) women tend to use objects more often, resulting in more damage, often death
4) abuse against women typically occurs at younger ages than abuse against men
5) a lot of domestic violence cases are not between the spouses, but between parents and children, and very often middle-aged children abusing elderly parents.

I have in no way suggested that there is no abuse against women, but this is something we already know about. It has happened for centuries, and our society has tried to tackle the problem (with varying degrees of efficiency). Where I live there is a “home for battered women”, but no “home for battered men” for example.

And yes, the question of abuse is far more complicated, which is exactly the point of my original answer. I do not see abuse as a gender issue, and this was exactly what I was trying to point out. Abuse is quite complicated and is connected to many factors, which change from case to case. The oversimplification comes when we assume “bad men” hit “good women”, without taking into account all of these factors, often with roots far older than the relationship of the two people involved.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jack79 I enjoyed reading that last answer much more than I enjoyed it the first time. I’m not sure you care about my enjoyment but hey the clarification was nice :)

YCLYHO's avatar

in a word CONTROL

Just_Justine's avatar

I think fearful frustrated people abuse. People that are afraid, of lot’s of things, afraid to be vulnerable, to express feelings, afraid they are being hurt psychologically so they lash out. It could also be learned behaviour. Low impulse control.

espearite's avatar

What I think it comes down to is the need for control due to overwhelming emotions that come from an early experience of powerlessness. It becomes a way of life for the person based on what he sees. My father was beaten by his father for no reason sometimes. Ex was picked on at school and got into fights. There is almost always some form of childhood abuse, constantly and physically. Like someone else mentioned, it is a feeling of frustration that leads to the abuse. The lack of control over one’s impulses (i.e. rushing into a relationship) seems to be also a factor. Obviously, and what another mentioned, the level of awareness is very limited, i.e. understanding needed to realize this is unacceptable behavior and how to resolve it. Emotional weakness is a huge factor. It depends on the person if they are willing to stop the pattern of abuse. It’s human nature to fear letting go of habit. Overall, the personality relies on what it feels is the best way of making the threat go away.

rodydoe89's avatar

I strongly believe there are endless possibilities. It could have something to do with the environment they grew up in, maybe they had an abusive parent or sibling? Some habits are learned from other people. It could be they are insecure about themselves, and putting their hands on a smaller, innocent creature makes them feel powerful and authoritative. It could be a psychological problem. These types of behaviors tend to show up during childhood, is what I’ve heard, i.e. abusing animals, etc. Also, it could be the result of a drug problem. Many drugs have long-term psychological effects on people and can cause them to lash out on others. Maybe they have a severe anger problem and are unsure of how to release it in a healthy way. That was the cause of my ex SO’s abusive behavior towards me.

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