Lundy Bancroft says the Right Outlook is Outrage
Lundy Bancroft is considered one of the world’s experts on domestic abuse. This post is a transcript of his video presentation “Domestic Violence in Popular Culture” Part 2. It has been transcribed and published with Lundy’s permission. If you click on the link it will take you to YouTube where you can watch Lundy giving this presentation. The transcript is below.
May 2017 UPDATE***IMPORTANT NOTE: While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.
Domestic Violence in Popular Culture (Part 2) by Lundy Bancroft
Is this a male on female crime?
The answer is yes; it is overwhelmingly a male on female crime. Certainly there are lesbian batterers who are abusing their female partners; there are gay male batterers who are abusing their male partners. But the people who are dying are not men who are being abused by women. I certainly know couples where the man is the nice guy and the woman is the not-nice person. It has nothing to do with who is nice people or who’s not nice people. It’s not that image of the world where somehow men are bad and women are good. But it’s about tyranny and it’s about fear and intimidation and it’s about the belief that you have the right to create fear and intimidation, and that you can count on other people to back you up.
And when you really look at all those factors, how many women are going to be able to create that electrified, charged atmosphere of intimidation and degradation over a man, and get that electrified, charged atmosphere of intimidation and degradation that makes domestic violence what it is?
I think it’s very important to say this always in the modern world because the abusers have been able to create all this [hand gesture suggesting “misinformation”] … people are apologetic now about referring to this as a male on female crime. And we need to stop apologising for that. That’s overwhelmingly what it is: you’ve got to call things what they are. It’s very important as we look at some of this media where you get some specific messages suggesting that it’s a roughly equal crime, a roughly equal problem.
You know, all we have to do is go through our own common sense and our own experience. Ask women that you know. “How many of you have ever been involved with a guy that you ended up really really scared of?” And you’re going to find actually that almost every woman has at least one experience of that somewhere in her life. And you’re going to find very few men that have any experience of having lived with someone that they were really really scared of. They may have lived with some people that none of us would like very much, but that’s really different from living with someone who you have to spend a lot of your time wondering what the hell they’re going to do, and go to sleep wondering whether he might kill you, and wondering whether your kids are going to be okay, and so forth.
I want us to look very carefully and directly at certain questions and work our way through conclusion and work our way through declaring…
And I also want to say I don’t believe in a dispassionate, academic way of thinking about domestic violence. And I’ve done some academic writing and I believe in that when it’s the right place for it. The right outlook is outrage – about what’s being done to women.
Now, I can get away with outrage about what’s being done to women, because I’m a man! Women, unfortunately, get slammed for being outraged about male violence.
And I’m specialising a lot these days in the custody of women, where women are supposed to come into court after being beaten, raped, demeaned, degraded, impoverished and all that this man has done to the quality of their life, and they’re not supposed to be mad about it! And in fact if they are mad about it, that’s going to be to the court to raise very serious questions about whether they are an appropriate custodial parents for their children.
So I am going to continue, and I hope that everyone will join me in continuing to speak with outrage, and in supporting people’s rights to be outraged and specifically also in supporting women’s right to be outraged about want abusers are doing to women, and what they’re doing to the quality of life for all of us.
And in one of my presentations I go through what abusers are costing us in terms of injury to women, what they’re costing us in injury to children, what they’re costing us in mental health damage and mental health expenses, what they’re costing us in health care and how that’s adding to our health care bills, how much of our community law enforcement costs that abusers are the cause of because abusers are the root of, according to various studies, close to 30% of all police calls. So consider abusers as responsible for 30% of law enforcement, prosecution, jail and everything. And on and on and on. I have a whole rap about it.
So our outrage should go beyond what specific abusers are doing to specific women and to specific children. It should also be about how we’re doing economically in our communities, how safe we can feel in our communities, how much we can trust each other, how our court system works, how many lies are around (they work very very hard to spread lies) – they’re at the root at a lot of the problems that we have.
Before we start looking at media influences, I want to talk a little bit about the abuser mentality, because you can see so much in what we see and listen when we go through the examples from media about the abuser mentality.
We have an image in our society of an abuser as someone who is a tortured, out of control individual who is tormented and his violence towards women is a product of his pain. And then that of course, that view, I shouldn’t say of course, that view lends itself very easily, though we don’t notice it and that’s what I shouldn’t say of course, but it actually lends itself very easily then to starting to look for the ways that the woman is to blame because if she’s doing this because of how much pain he’s in, well she’s probably one of the main people causing him pain, right? Anyone who’s ever been in a partner relationship, at some point in their life, can tell you that once you’re in a partner relationship, one of the people who can cause you the most pain is your partner. So if his pain is the problem, then naturally we’re going to start looking at her and looking at the pain that she is causing him so we have slipped right down the slope into the victim blaming as soon as we start to get caught up in his pain as a supposed cause of his problems.
What I’ve discovered from my years of working with abusers is that my clients didn’t turn out to be in any special pain They certainly didn’t look to me like they were in any more pain than non-abusive men. I’ve certainly known plenty of non-abusive men who have lived very painful lives for all kinds of reasons and I’ve had a lot of clients who were absolutely top-dog, I mean everything was going great for them, they were making lots of money, they were popular, everyone liked them, except us and the women who had to live with them of course, and often their children.
The abuser works this stuff, to some extent consciously, to some extent unconsciously, but it doesn’t really matter, in fact whether it is conscious or unconscious, the point is he works this stuff. He works getting people to feel sorry for him, he works playing himself as a very tormented individual, and once he has he has got you in there, he works quickly into getting you to think about her as the cause of his torment. And we’ll see that again in one of the snippets, in one of the media selections we’ll be looking at today.
So if it’s not about his inner pain, what’s it about?
It’s about his mentality.
The abuser’s problem is actually not very much located in his feeling world. Psychologically, there’s been some really interesting research that’s been done particularly by a researcher named Ed Gondolf – psychologically he turns out not to be very different from non-abusers, minor differences but not very much, he’s much more different in his values and attitudes, his mentality.
A very interesting study was done that looked at boys of batterers and their process of growing up to become abusers themselves, because a lot of them grow up to become abusers of women themselves, and two different studies, well actually there’s a third, that have compared: Is it the way these boys are wounded growing up that’s leading them to become batterers, or is the way that they’re being indoctrinated?
And all three of these studies came to the conclusion that the emotional effects didn’t turn out to be statistically to be good explanations of why they became perpetrators. The emotional effects caused all kinds of other problems, it’s not that they didn’t cause serious problems, they did, but they didn’t cause out to be what causes perpetration in the next generation, when they reach adulthood, it’s the indoctrination. In other words, what all three of these studies have found is that boys who don’t buy into the abuser’s ways of thinking, who don’t look down on women, who don’t become really oriented towards domination, who aren’t contemptuous, who aren’t superior, who don’t make all kinds of excuses for their violence, actually interestingly, don’t turn out to have any higher rate of becoming an abuser than boys who grew up in non-violent homes.
In other words, you growing up around a batterer does not increase your chance of becoming a batterer yourself except to the extent that you take on your dad’s mentality.
So the problem is in his mind, not his heart.
And I’m going to give you a four minute version of what’s normally a two hour discussion but the key points in his mentality are:
He believes in his right to rule, not necessarily in all fronts of his life but when it comes to a partner, he believes in his right to rule. He’s going to control her in all kinds of ways that usually don’t involve violence and this is one of the points that I think is important to get, you don’t have to use direct physical intimidation a lot. If you use it once in a while, that’s enough to keep people really cautious around you and then you can control them in all kinds of other ways. So day to day life with an abuser is not usually about outright violence or outright rape, it’s usually about being demeaning, being degraded, being told what you can do, being told what you can’t do, having your self-confidence undermined, being made to feel stupid and so forth.
A huge percentage of my clients, and I didn’t keep statistics of this but the stories were just there over and over and over again during the years I was working with abusers, they were using the woman’s workplace in one way or another as part of the venue for his abuse.
I learned about this from the women but sometimes my clients would directly admit it, constant phone calls, calling her five, ten fifteen times a day at work, making it very hard for her to get any work done and also making her start to have a lot of annoyance and upset of the part of her employer because their irritation at all of these phone calls is going towards her. Showing up unexpectedly at work to make her feel unsafe, injuring her in ways that were causing her to miss work. Causing her so much emotional turmoil through tearing her down that she couldn’t concentrate at work, couldn’t get much done. Becoming particularly difficult if she were starting to do well at work, in other words, he liked it when she was bringing in money, but he doesn’t like it if her works starts to be a source of a lot of pride, or it starts to look like she is going to really advance, or it might help her to become independent, cause that could mean independent of him, so he gets particularly disruptive in a way, the better she’s doing, the more it’s really starting to go somewhere. And I could give you lots of other examples. The workplace is so often an important aspect of how he’s going after her and how he’s affecting her.
The abuser really sees himself as superior to his partner and he believes he is entitled to a relationship that works completely on his terms and that he’s entitled to all kinds of double standards. There’s a completely different set of rules [for him as compared to her].
end of transcript.
This transcript was originally published at Barbara Roberts’ solo blog notunderbondage.blogspot.com.au [Internet Archive link] (a blog which she no longer posts on because she is devoting her energies to A Cry For Justice).