A woman is termed as being abusive when she mistreats or misuses you or other people. She shows no concern for your integrity or innate worth as individual, doing so in a manner which degrades your well-being. The goal of an abusive woman is to control you. She uses her abusive behaviors to manipulate you into submission or compliance with her will.
She accomplishes control over you in a variety of ways. She may verbally abuse you by calling you names, tell you that you are stupid, that you have no worth or will not amount to anything. She may become physically violent, inflicting pain, bruises, broken bones and other physical wounds (visible and hidden both). She may sexually assault you or ridicule you.
Alternatively, she may neglect dependents through disavowing any responsibilities she may have towards them. In the latter case, she perpetuates her damage through a lack of action rather than through a harmful, manipulative action.
See the Riding the Wheel and Inside the Cycle of Abuse for further information how she accomplishes her goal and how it affects you.
Female abusers are not much different from male abusers and all abusers are not much different from one another. Abusive people typically think they are unique - so different from other people - that they don't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. The fact is that abusers have a lot in common with one another and share a great many thinking patterns and behaviors. These may include:
- Success Fantasies: She believes in fantasies of being rich, famous, or extremely successful in other terms if only other people weren't holding her back. They're blocking the way makes her feel justified in getting back at them, including through abuse. She also puts other people down as a way of building herself up.
- Blaming: She shifts responsibility for certain actions to others, which allows her to be angry at the other person for "causing" the behavior. For example: "If you would stay out of it while I am disciplining the kids, I could do it without hitting them."
- Excuse Making: Instead of accepting responsibility for certain actions, she tries to justify her behavior with excuses. For example, "My parents never loved me," or "My parents beat me," or "I had a bad day, and when I walked in and saw this mess I lost my temper," or "I couldn't let him talk to me that way, there was nothing else I could do."
- Redefining: She redefines the situation so that the problem lies not with her but with others or the outside world. For example: She doesn't come home at 6 p.m. for dinner as prearranged; she comes home at 4 a.m. She says, "You're terrible company. Why should I come home to sit around with you? I bet the kids don't even like being with you."
- Making Fools of Others: She combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his reactions, and provoking a fight between or among others. She may try to charm the person she wants to manipulate, pretending a great deal of interest in and concern for that person in order to get on his good side.
- Assuming: She often assumes she knows what others are thinking or feeling. Her assumption allows her to justify her behavior because she "knows" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example: "I knew you'd be mad because I went out for a drink after work, so I figured I might as well stay out and enjoy myself."
- Emotional Dependence: Abusive women are usually very emotionally dependent on their spouse. The result of their inner rage at being dependent means that she acts in controlling ways to exert power and to deny her own weakness.
Another sign of dependence is "hoovering." This is all the pleading, goody-goody, sweetness, love and promises an abused man hears after he leaves her because of the abuse. She'll make extraordinary attempts to persuade him to return a.k.a. "hoovering."
- Jealousy: One major symptom is strong jealousy and possessive actions, normally sexual in nature. She will spend a great deal of time monitoring her spouses activities. She lacks supportive relationships.
- Lying: She manipulates by lying to control information. She may also use lying to keep other people, including the victim, off-balance psychologically. For example: She tries to appear truthful when actually lying or tries to look deceitful when actually telling the truth.
- Rigid Application of Traditional Sex Attitudes: Abusive women tend to have more inflexible beliefs about roles and functions of their spouses in the marriage. She may expect her husband to over fulfill all the financial needs and household/parenting chores.
- Drama and Excitement: An abusive woman have trouble experiencing close, satisfying relationships. She substitutes drama and excitement for closeness. She finds it exciting to watch others become angry, get into fights, or fall into a general uproar. Often, she'll use a combination of tactics to set up an exciting situation.
- Closed Channel: She doesn't tell much about personal details and real feelings. She is not open to new information about herself either, such as someone else's thoughts about them personally. She is secretive, close-minded and self-righteous. Female abusers believe they are right in all situations.
- Ownership: She is typically is very possessive. Moreover, she believes that anything that is wanted should be owned and that she can do as wanted with anything that is hers. The same attitude applies to people. It justifies controlling others' behavior, physically hurting them and taking things that belong to them.
- Poor Anger Management: Women who have experienced a violent and abusive childhood are more likely to grow up and become abusers themselves - monkey see monkey do. A woman who sees violence as the primary method for settling differences as a child is not going to have very many alternate ways available to channel anger. A woman without an everyday outlet for anger risks exploding toward the people closest to her.
- Minimizing: She ducks responsibility for abusive actions by trying to make them seem less important than they are. For example: "I didn't slap you that hard", or "I only slapped one of the kids. I could have slapped them all."
- Fragmentation: She usually keeps her abusive behavior separate from the rest of her life. The separation is physical; for example, she will abuse family members but not people outside the home. The separation is also psychological; for example, it is not uncommon for her to attend church Sunday morning and abuse family members Sunday night. She sees no inconsistency in this behavior and feels justified in it.
- Above the Rules: As mentioned earlier, an abusive woman generally believes she is better than other people and doesn't have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too.
Each inmate usually believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, they are not. She shows above-the-rules thinking in saying, "I don't need counseling. Nobody knows as much about my life as I do. I can handle my life without help from anybody.
- Self-glorification: She usually thinks of herself as strong, superior, independent and self-sufficient. When anyone says or does anything that doesn't fit this glorified self-image, she takes it as an insult.
- Inability to express feelings with words: This type of woman is rarely capable of true intimacy and may feel very threatened by the prospect of being open and vulnerable.
Particularly when frustrated, an abusive woman expects instant gratification from her spouse who is expected to "read" her mind and "know" what she wants. When her mate doesn't know what is expected, an abusive woman may interpret this as meaning her mate doesn't really love her. Therefore, with an abusive individual, rejection = violence.
- Vagueness: Thinking and speaking vaguely allows her to avoid responsibility. Example: "I'm late because I had to do something on the way home."
Why is she abusive?
If she grew up in a home where violence and rage were the norm, you've got your answer right there. It could happen to any one of us - monkey see monkey do.
Setting mental illness and personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissism and Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder aside, the reality is that she, for the most part, is attempting to work out unresolved childhood issues or traumatic childhood events through her relationship with you. Say what?! Not much chance for success doing it that way.
She may also be attempting to work out unresolved issues from prior relationships. Both men and women do this and we all commonly refer to this as "carrying baggage."
Maybe she's just plain mean.
Abusive Breakdown Tactics - the tools of abuse
This list compiles some of the more common tactics from the abuser's arsenal of tools. They'll switch them up... using one or two or more to complete their goal of shutting you up and shutting you down. Eventually, you become completely confused and despondent - under their control. These tools are the ones which make you feel like you are going crazy.
- Verbal Assaults: Berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation. Blowing flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.
- Domination: The abuser wants to control your every action. They have to have their own way, and will resort to threats to get it. When you allow someone else to dominate you, you can lose respect for yourself.
- Emotional Blackmail: The abuser plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other "hot buttons" to get what they want. This could include threats to end the relationship, the "cold shoulder," or use other controlling fear tactics.
- Gaslighting: The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. You know differently. The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity. It is this act of abuse which makes you begin to think you are crazy or losing your mind.
- Unpredictable Responses: Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts. Whenever someone in your life reacts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you, tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next, or likes something you do one day and hates it the next, you are being abused with unpredictable responses.
- This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You're always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what's expected of you. You must remain hypervigilant, waiting for the other person's next outburst or change of mood.
- An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.
- Abusive Expectations: The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs. It could be a demand for constant attention, frequent sex, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person. But no matter how much you give, it's never enough. You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don't fulfill all this person's needs.
- Constant Chaos: The other person may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others. The person may be "addicted to drama" since it creates excitement.
What can you do?
What can you do about all this? There are a couple of things you can do to help both her and yourself. First of all, set aside any notion of trying to "fix her" yourself. You are not a shrink, and moreover, it's not
your job to fix anyone. You'll only end up repeatedly smashing your face into a brick wall. Does that sound familiar?
Working with childhood trauma in an adult is something akin to peeling down through the layers of an onion. It requires professional skill to safely work down to those core issues in order to help her to both un-cover them and resolve them. This is especially true if the she has "buried traumatic events" such as childhood sexual abuse.
Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse often do not even realize they were victimized until later in life when their memories, locked away in another part of their mind, begin to surface and release. For further information see:
In the big picture, her past issues are hers and her alone. You weren't there. You weren't a player in the original core issue(s). She does not have the right to use you as the scapegoat for what "Uncle Bill" did to her when she was 8 years old. Nor does she have the right to abuse and attempt to control you because the man before you abused her - and she's going to make damn sure it never happens again. See Help for Abusive Women
About Female Abusers
- Abusive women tend to be preoccupied with a "feminist in over-kill" ideal of womanhood. They feel a need to dominate and control men and often expect it as their right and privilege. They may tend to associate some feminine qualities with weakness and fear intimacy as making them vulnerable.
- They are frequently characterized as lacking in assertive communication skills and appearing alternatively passive or aggressive in nature. They are more inclined to resolve problems and emotions through violence. This tendency tends to add to the stress many batterers create for themselves and their families.
- Female batterers have higher levels of hostility than non-batterers. Their range of emotions tend to be reduced to anger, which in-turn is expressed primarily through violent behavior similar to the same behavior sanctioned by various "feminist in over-kill" subcultures such as this site: www.ihatemen.org
With this type of woman, emotional tensions are typically suppressed until they finally explode into rage. The Cycle of Abuse explains how this works.
- Despite the bravado that many abusive women display, they characteristically suffer from lower self-esteem than non-batterers. They often feel that they have not lived up to the feminine sex role stereotype and consequently overcompensate with hyper-femininist behavior.
- They become emotionally dependent on their partners and consequently become threatened by the possibility of their departure. This is often evident in excessive jealousy and possessiveness.
- Abusive women generally have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. The alcohol acts as a uninhibitor, intensifying abusive incidents, but it does not "cause" the abuse.
- Many women are abusive with or without alcohol and continue their violence even after "drying out." Some experts consider alcohol and drug abuse to act as a sedative for the emotional distress most batterers bear in response to their abusive childhood, sense of inadequacy, and poor communication skills.
- The majority of abusive women have experienced or witnessed childhood violence that has left them with low self-esteem, poor role models, and sometimes traumatized. Very much like the alcoholic, abusers deny there is a problem and refuse to accept responsibility for their abusive behaviour. She blames everyone else for making her angry, thereby excusing her actions.
- Brainwashing Men - This is how she gets what she wants. She brainwashes you using methods similar to those of prison guards who recognize that physical control is never easily accomplished without the cooperation of the prisoner.
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