Emotionally abusive relationships: anger, men and feminism on International Women’s Day
Do you sometimes feel that there are unconscious external forces driving your behaviour? Does hearing about feminism flick a switch that turns your anger on at a frightening rate moving from nought to sixty in a split second? Has anger towards women turned to rage, fury and hatred for all femininity? Perhaps your family relationships involving females felt divided, obligatory, oppressive or in other ways unloving? Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmingly anxious, empty, dissatisfied and frustrated, always longing for an ever-elusive closeness? Have you ever felt let down, criticised, betrayed or rejected by women? Do you seek revenge for "injustices"? Perhaps it feels correct for you to shame your loved one using threats, intimidation, physical or technological violence? Does commitment include for you affairs and betrayals? Do you behave in ways that leave you feeling deeply guilty and eternally ashamed despite your conscious or unconscious attempts to hide or distort the facts and twist the truth so you can trick yourself justifying any abuse?
Do you think that women's bodies, weight, appearance, choice of clothing or any other matters to do with their person-hood, is your business? Do you want to understand why they are, in fact, totally outside of your jurisdiction? Do you coercively control women monitoring their psyche, bodies, career choices, food, friendships phone calls, Facebook or other ways-of-being in the world? Do you find yourself carving up women into the sum of their body parts and commenting as if they are cattle? Do you get your needs met by manipulation, conning, seduction or lying? Are you a fake? Grandiose, narcissistic, competitive and dominant? Do you live by rigid roles and rules such as “the man should be the provider” and “the woman should be the [grateful, resented by you] recipient” of your hard-earned provision giving you the right to make all the decisions?
Have you ever felt jealous of your wife or partner's friends? Wanted more attention than the children, her parents or felt left out of the family group? Threatened to kill yourself, her pet or best friend? Told lies to manipulate her into breaking up with all her friends. Sulked, withdrawn, avoided and refused to make amends? Driven too fast or offered to help strangers, resenting cutting your own grass, seeking sympathetic attention from anyone who walks past? Asked her for directions so you can blame her for taking a wrong turning, discouraged her from further education or mocked her interests as you felt your heart burning?
If you have answered “yes” to any of the above, ask yourself this question: do you have the emotional courage to take a personal stand on behalf of humanity to commit to understanding - and ultimately overcoming - the numerous socially-constructed forces that lead to inequality?
In order to do so, to free up your mind and soul so you can enjoy fulfilling, reciprocal and rewarding relationships, find a therapist with whom to work. One that does not view men as stupid, wicked, bad or evil. A therapist whose aim is simply to help you, as an individual, move away from a state of denial ("she made it up") or justification (“she made me”) leading to blame for any emotional abuse or domestic violence into a space where you can safely take responsibility for your actions and break the cycle.
Allow the therapist to educate you as to the underlying forces that led you to gaze at women as objects and, as such mistakenly believe you have the right to control. In such manner, you will find yourself "wanting" to change and the healing can begin. Feelings of joy, delight, ecstacy and fulfilling, satisfying, healthy relationships are the goal. You will learn to stop projecting all of your rage, redirecting your depression and feel relief from the act of confession.
During your journey you will reconnect with all your feelings including happiness, sadness, guilt, shame, excitement, insecurity, anticipation, resentment, hurt, upset, rejection, disconnection and betrayal. No longer will you find yourself moving instantly from a state of calm to a rage that leaves you caged.
That is not to say such work is easy. The work is uncomfortable, long-term, arduous, hazardous and painful for both therapist and patient/client within the therapeutic relationship and does not always lead to recovery of the self. Learning to trust, assertiveness skills, frustration tolerance and how to stop avoiding discomfort is the door to exit emotional abuse. If you are misusing drugs or alcohol, gambling, gaming or addicted to porn, or often finding yourself lying, exaggerating or boasting in socially unacceptable ways, then a 12-step programme may be helpful alongside therapy. Taking the first tentative step by reading this article suggests that, for you, the path to peace is possible. Part of you wishes to stop hurting the one that you love. Engaging in therapy will give you the key.
“Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either.” Golda Meir
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About Amanda Perl
I am a BACP accredited counsellor and existential psychotherapist, a CBT practitioner member of the British Psychological Society and Course lead on the stage 4 BACP accredited counselling diploma. My private practice reflects a belief that each of us is unique with the potential for growth and development and can move forward in our own way.