Don Hennessy Digest

1   Don Hennessy says domestic abusers are like pedophiles – and there’s not much proof they’re redeemable.

2  “How He Gets Into Her Head” — an introduction to Don Hennessy’s book

 How the male intimate abuser selects, sets-up & grooms a target woman

4   The male domestic abuser is a ‘psychephile’ — a sexual offender

5   Offending and re-grooming: the skills men use to abuse their female partners

6   Re-0ffending: the increasingly dangerous culminating phase in male intimate abuse

7   Society has been hoodwinked by men who abuse their female intimate partners

8  For Professionals who work in Domestic Abuse NB: I believe all the posts in this Don Hennessy series would benefit such professionals, but this one is particularly aimed at them.  

9  Videos of Don Hennessy and other Irish DV professionals

10 Survivors and DV professionals describe domestic abuse and red flags

11  How society can prevent domestic abuse

12  Steps to Freedom: Escaping Intimate Control – Don Hennessy’s new book

13  Don Hennessy speaks to Emma Murphy in an Irish documentary about Domestic Abuse

14  Don Hennessy will be providing an audio version of “Steps To Freedom”

15 How He Wins – Don Hennessy’s new book  i.e., his 3rd book

16. Don Hennessy on his book “Steps To Freedom” – interviewed by Irish radio

17. Don Hennessy on systemic abuse in Ireland

Who is Don Hennessy?

Don Hennessy’s work in the field of domestic abuse spans nearly three decades and at the age of 72 he says, “I continue to work a full week as I know that I enjoy my work.”

As a relationship counselor, Don Hennessy was one of six founders of The Cork Domestic Violence Project which was initiated in 1991 by the Cork Marriage Counseling Centre in Cork, Ireland.

He later became the director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency in Ireland.

His experience includes interacting directly with both victims of domestic violence and 1000+ abusers. As a result of his personal experience and research he has acquired profound insights into the deliberate and effective tactics some men use “to enslave the women who love them.” His research and insights are supported by fellow colleagues and have been considered on the national level in Ireland.

His second book Steps to Freedom (published March 2018) is different from most ‘sympathy’ and ‘support’ books which rely on the target woman to protect herself. Instead it talks directly to the target woman while she is being controlled and hopes to give her the permission and the skills to protect her mind and her soul.

Hennessy’s Bio Details

  • 6 years studying to become a missionary priest
  • 25 years in various sales roles including 20 years of car sales
  • 28 years and ongoing relationship counsellor
  • Director of Ireland’s National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency (NDVIA) since 2003
  • prior to the NDVIA he worked at the Cork Marriage Counselling Centre

The NDVIA was set up in 2003 with government funding, forced to close in Jan 2003 when funding ceased, then re-started in May 2003 and continues to run on a voluntary basis.

He is currently 72 years old and has been married for 48 years. He and his wife have five children (2 girls, 3 boys, who are now aged 38–47) and five grandchildren.


We have added Don Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head [Affiliate link] to our Gift Books Offer for victims who can’t afford to purchase it for themselves.

In our Don Hennessy series, all quotes from Hennessy and Irish media articles use British spelling to retain authenticity.

Don Hennessy has very generously allowed me to quote as much as I like from How He Gets Into Her Head to pass on the message to others. Thank you Don!

24 thoughts on “Don Hennessy Digest”

  1. Thanks, Barbara, you are doing a superb job! It is very clear, neat and organized for all who wants to read and revisit this valuable and precious material. May God bless you and Mr Hennessy for making this freeing knowledge available to all of us who have been tormented with so many questions and fog and very few answers and sound teaching. I treasure each post. It is life, light, balm and comfort to my soul. Please continue the good work.

    1. Thanks Neveralone. It is the comments that come in on this blog that keep me going. All the comments from survivors and their supporters. The way our readers interact with each other, how they support each other, how one reader says something that sparks empathy or new recognition in another reader….all those things (as well as the thanks people give me) are what keeps me going. 🙂 🙂

      I do sometimes get tired, but the Lord renews my strength.

      The more survivors and victim-advocates get wise about how to rightly divide the Word of Truth (the Bible) in regards to abuse issues, the more effective our cries for justice will be.

      And the more Christian survivors and victim-advocates get savvy in using social media to keep educating the public, the more effective our cries for justice will be.

      1. And your moderation of the comments keeps us safe as well as this website being a safe space for us survivors. A truly safe space is really hard to come by because there are so many abusers trolling about, spewing venom, manipulating, deceiving, etc online, just like in real life, only more so as anyone can spew anything online without consequences…..(which also mirrors real life for so many victims whose abusers are rewarded instead of punished).

        So, all in all, a big thank you to Barbara and TWBTC. 🙂

      2. Barbara, I truly appreciate you so much. I can’t even describe what this website has done for me.

        I also agree with Anonymous Woman. I am so grateful that you moderate the comments and keep this a safe place. I, too, have seen the freedom allowed to trolls on other sites. I don’t know if the discernment is just completely lacking and the problem is ignorance and naivete or if there is an actual desire to give trolls and abusers more of a voice to spread their destruction than they already have just to stir things up and increase the comments activity on the blog.

        God bless you and your work, Barbara.

  2. I have read “How He Gets Into Her Head”. I had read many books on this topic including “Why Does He Do That?” but when I read Don’s book it really opened my eyes to the grooming (or testing) that these men do. When you really think about these relationships we need to realize that there are not really any “good times” because the “good times” are all about information gathering.

    1. The “good times” are all about information gathering.

      Yes, yes and yes! And luring her back into the cycle so he can ratchet up the abuse. I didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate this during the marriage and abusive “biblical” church counseling, and was faulted, coerced and threatened with discipline even more because I couldn’t say there were positive things. I wasn’t “hoping all things” and being thankful and trusting in the Lord and willing to demonstrate sacrificial love. I was “bitter” (Oh my gosh, endlessly bitter. The abuser got so much mileage out of that one!) and full of judgment not grace and only wanted to talk about his sin, not mine. I can’t wait to finish Hennessy’s book.

  3. Reading this book is literally a watershed moment in my life. My last abuser was a domestic violence counselor and now I understand the WHY and my own vulnerability to grooming…the subtlety of it…better than I ever have. I understand that it is the evil intellect: deception, and understanding of the target (her needs, wants, fear, past) that enable them to craft a satanic plan to keep me / her in bondage.

    I never understood why I was so high-functioning in so many areas of life, esp intellectually, but kept falling prey to these types. Now I understand how early sexual abuse and grooming in childhood has created a vulnerability in me to grooming. God is really bringing clarity and freedom through these materials.

    I have a few essays up my sleeve now…this leads to so many connections, questions, and aha moments. I really feel God is doing a huge work of freeing many of us from the lies and tactics that enable predatory intimate relationships to continue.

    Who the Lord sets free is free indeed.

    You will know the truth- and the truth shall make you FREE!!!

    1. A domestic violence counselor? What an excellent cover for an abuser…..wolf in sheep’s clothing. Abuser who is a DV counselor. God bless you, Beloved.

      Isn’t this site great? Barb’s Don Hennessey series is awesome. Painful truths. Excellent posts.

  4. I am 4 years out of a 32 year nightmare of a marriage and I still follow this blog faithfully! I am so grateful for work you do and for the strength it has given me to forge a new life. It has been the most painful and intense struggle of my life but I am free and independent and am able to help numerous women through the hard-won wisdom and insight I have gained. I regularly share your blog posts and pray for this ministry.
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you Debbie for your encouragement!

      And thank you for your prayers. I know I can speak for Barbara when I say that we both very much appreciate your prayers for ACFJ!

  5. I’m writing a pamphlet to hang up in public places to inform victims. It condenses Don Hennessy’s info. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

    Relationship Abuse: the Short Story

    Male abuse is based on sexual entitlement, says relationship counselor Don Hennessy, and every abused woman senses this. We must take focus from the woman and onto the abuser, challenging his attitudes on sex. It is his responsibility to seek permission, not hers to refuse (or allow). The Bible itself condemns men’s sexual sins more than women’s.

    Male abusers, Hennessy says, are more devious and cunning than pedophiles, almost never change, and are fully aware of what they do and how it affects their women. We fail to wipe out this crime because we do not call it such. They are brainwashing con-men who use tactics to fool women:

    1) He selects a kind, honest woman who puts others first and doesn’t recognize signs of a toxic person. He uses grooming, like child molesters, so the target will do anything for him and not see what’s going on. He chooses whichever tactics the particular woman is susceptible to. From day one, therefore, the abuse begins as he gets into her head. He gets her to take blame for [the] couple’s problems; she examines her behavior and thinks if she changes he’ll stop being nasty. Victims don’t see the treatment as abuse because it looks different in the context the abuser creates. Example: he may blame anger on his mental health, “triggers”, or PTSD, calling it “accidental.” He acts different in public to keep up an image, and so no one believes her if she exposes him. He says he loves her but what he “loves” is her service, which is why he fears [a] breakup. Victims are no different than non-abused kind people and they have no “pathology” driving them to be targets.

    2) He skillfully sets her up by various methods. When he asks her questions and listens, he isn’t being polite; he’s gathering information to use against her later (fears, weaknesses, wishes, attitudes, knowledge, susceptibility to certain con tactics). He fakes a persona or worldview that makes him desirable to his particular target. He presents himself as needing to be understood so she’ll pity and help him. He tries to appear different than other abusers, or authority figures his target dislikes (example: “I don’t yell like your father.”) He invents life stories to excuse his behavior, remembering to tailor them to her values and knowledge for maximum fooling effect; or, he’ll blame her behavior. He fakes apologies to get off the hook, or is overly loving after being mean.

    3) He then sets up terms and conditions of being his woman. Sometimes the woman is already groomed by her family or society, as in misogynistic or cult environments and his work is done for him. If her gut tells her something is wrong, especially him or his actions, he gets her to ignore it (calls her “crazy,” says she “overanalyzes” him, “overreacts,” etc). He only lets up temporarily when she obeys, and he only gets worse in the long run. Even when he’s “nice”, she fears him.

    4) The abuser carries out sexual and other abuse while pretending to be in love. The bed is his battleground. He must break down resistance to his sexual authority. He experiences God-like power through sexual oppression of her. Target women often resist by leaving the marriage bed. After an attack he launches on an unrelated issue (a distraction tactic), he will use any tactic, such as being “kind” to the victim, who then offers sex to pacify him or because she believes he’s really sorry and just wants to be close.

    5) He starts offending against what makes her feel human. He doesn’t need his standards met because he’s insecure but so he can make her doubt and hate herself so he has more control. She tries to explain why she hates what he does, but he stores that information so he can use it again, because he now knows how it is affecting her.

    1. Lyla, this is fantastic!

      Sorry I took a little while to publish it. I added double line paragraph breaks…to create a that on a WordPress blog one has to hit the “enter” key twice for each paragraph.

      I am thrilled you are doing this. And I will let Don Hennessy know. He doesn’t use social media so I don’t think he’s looked at our blog much. But I am in touch with him by email and he and I are intending to chat by Facetime soon.

    2. And Lyla, let us know when you’ve completed the pamphlet. And send the full to text to TWBTC and we can make it into a PDF document which people can download and print from this blog.

      You are a blessing!

      1. Barbara, has the pamphlet summarizing Don Hennessy’s research been made available in a printable form, or did it run into copyright or other issues?

        I’m asking for a friend….for realsies, as my teenaged daughters say!

      2. Hi, Princesa, thanks for asking this question! In Sept / Oct / Nov last year I dropped the ball on that project because I was so overloaded with many complex problems. I’m glad you have nudged me to pick up the ball again. 🙂

        The pamphlet is written. I will be publishing it tomorrow as a guest post and will include a link so you can download the PDF version of the pamphlet.

        I want to express my gratitude to the reader who volunteered to write the pamphlet. And to thank her for being patient with me!

  6. I was a victim of domestic violence and mental torture. During some of my pregnancies I [was] hospitalised. I lost one baby when the pregnancy was well advanced. In the end he took everything off me including my children.
    I could continue writing for the night but it’s so upsetting.

    1. Dear dear sister, welcome to the blog! 🙂

      I believe you. And I’ve airbrushed some of the detail in your comment to protect you abuser or his allies identifying you.

      I also changed you screen name to HeTookEverythingOffMe.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.


  7. Beloved commented:

    I never understood why I was so high functioning in so many areas of life, esp intellectually, but kept falling prey to these types. Now I understand how early sexual abuse and grooming in childhood has created a vulnerability in me to grooming. God is really bringing clarity and freedom through these materials.


    1. Ditto.

      Grooming. I haven’t thought about that in a long time. But it sure makes sense. Oh, there have been so many a-ha moments ever since I started reading this blog. I look forward to reading the DH Digest that Barbara created.

      Thank you so much, Barbara, twbtc, Pastor Jeff, and other contributors. This work that you do, it is so vital, so helpful, it is a lifeline for so many. The information, comfort, encouragement, and bold truth are transforming. Seriously. It is changing the way I think, the way I view my situation. My perception is changing. The way I read God’s Word is changing. It almost seems like repentance in a lot of ways. I have such a long way to go. This is such a difficult process. I have so much to unlearn and re-learn. Learning how to face my fears. Etc.

      Again, thank you….

  8. Having read Don Hennessy’s book, he is one of the very few people who understand how this insidious torment wrecks women and children’s lives. As a single mother with a teenage child, who have suffered for over 14 years of torment, humiliation, ridicule, stalking, defamation, harassment, intimidation and threats, it is a sorry world when, due to lack of evidence and the fact it sounds “bizarre” that someone would go to such lengths, no one believes us and they all do what ever he tells them even though it is destroying my child’s life.

    Although our situation is slightly different in that I have never lived with the father of my child and my child has not seen him since [my child’s] first birthday when the verbal violence turned to physical violence, Mr Hennessy totally understands the situation we are in. Every possible way of finding help is blocked as all our movements are monitored, all computers, phones hacked, all people we speak to or meet contacted by him. They turn the problem back and say it is with us and this makes him more confident to continue to ruin our lives.

    There certainly needs to be a change in the law and much more support for women and children. I found Mr Hennessy’s book one of hope as it helped me to realise there are at least one or two people who totally understand this type of abuse. I would like to thank Mr Hennessy for raising awareness of this type of abuse – we are incredibly grateful to him for dedicating his life to understanding and trying to help women and children like us.

    [For safety and protection, gender of the child airbrushed. Paragraph breaks added for easier readability. Editors.]

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.