We all know that pedophiles target children for sexualized abuse. Don Hennessy coined the word psychephile for the man who abuses his intimate female partner. A psychephile targets the psyche of the woman he has selected as his target for a long term intimate relationship.
Hennessy used the word psychephile in order to emphasise that it is by befriending the mind of the woman that he can establish, maintain and intensify his control of another adult.
The word psychephile combines the root of ‘psyche’ meaning mind or spirit, and ‘phile’ which comes from the Greek for friend. (How He Gets Into Her Head, p 21 [Affiliate link])
All emphasis in quotes from Hennessy’s book had been added by me.
The psychephile is a man who gains control of the mind of the target woman so that he can dictate the level of intimacy and sexual activity in the relationship. (173)
The main reason why any woman becomes trapped in an abusive relationship is because a skilled offender decided to target her. …. When we look for any explanation for the continuing abuse by analysing the character or the behaviour of the sufferer we not only further abuse the woman but also begin the process of colluding with the abuser.
This collusion is the lifeblood of the skilled offender. He has drawn us over to his worldview. …. In a very subtle, covert and powerful way he has targeted all of us. …. We have all been targeted without even knowing it. We are all subjected to the same tactics as the target woman and sadly we are all capable of colluding with the abuser. (22-23)
Don Hennessy did six years training to become a missionary priest – he definitely understands the main elements of the Bible. He talks about conscience, good and evil, and he sometimes mentions Biblical narratives to illustrate his points about abusers. Here is a prime example.
The skilled offender has many layers of need. At a very deep level his need is to avoid death, as though he wants to become God-like. It is the essence of the biblical story that Adam wanted to be like God. It is the drama of that story that a woman was going to help him become as powerful as God. At a level of our very existence it is the role of a woman to help some men feel like God. (23)
…. While we are familiar with physical, emotional and financial control, the real God-like feeling is in his ability to sexually control the woman. …. The act of sexual intimacy is used by these men to confirm ownership. The act of sexual intimacy without consequence is one of the most God-like experiences these men have. …. He targets a woman who will become a long-term acolyte in his project. His ability to hide this intention is the cornerstone of this project. If a woman is targeted by one of these men she is never aware of what he is doing to her. (23-24)
By using the tactics of benign and sinister grooming (which we discussed in the previous post in this series) the skilled offender invades the target woman’s mind so that she numbs herself to her own instincts. He brainwashes her so that she will think what he wants her to think. Don Hennessy suggests that if society wants to reduce domestic abuse,
….we must stop the practice of examining her [the target woman’s] behaviour. Instead we might try to examine and reveal the accurate, effective and intentional processes used by the skilled offender. …. These tactics when used in the context of an intimate relationship can clearly be described as a kind of brainwashing. (80)
All the psychephiles that I have met have the skill to surreptitiously carry out this brainwashing while pretending to be in love. (80-81)
Hennessy invites us to categorize all male intimate abusers as primarily sexual offenders
The skilled offender has managed to create an illusion that what he wants is power and control. We are right in believing that this partly explains his behaviour but sadly his intention goes further. The tactics of targeting, setting up and grooming are used by all sexual predators who wish to develop and maintain a long-term sexual relationship with their target. (111)
….Skilled offenders are people who believe that their sexual needs must be met repeatedly by the same woman. These psychephiles have a common goal. (111)
….The goal of all his tactics is to have his sexual needs met without negotiation. (102)
….The bed is the battle ground where the male abuser needs to be in charge. He can be demanding or rejecting of affection and intimacy, but either way he must be in charge. (117)
….We do an extraordinary injustice to these skilled offenders if we believe that they use all these tactics just to gain power. Most of them could do that without such effort. Most of them have huge amount of power before they ever enter the relationship. They could threaten their target with financial ruin, parental dominance or physical violence if all they wanted was to be in charge of their own lives. But what they really want is for the woman to cede the right to her bodily integrity. This goal requires them to be both skilful and determined. To the intimate abuser it is a challenge to control the one area of the relationship that they are unable to fulfil on their own. The psychephile aims to invade the mind of the target so as to contaminate and control her resistance. (116)
While most men have power to manage the routine functions of the relationship from the beginning, they know that the woman may resist their entitlement to sexual activity. They use their skills to undermine this resistance. They know that they arrive into the relationship with very little power over this resistance. Initially it may be the only area where the target woman has equal power. The man who comes to the relationship already convinced of his entitlement and driven by lust cannot allow this initial equality to stand in his way. (116-7)
….The contribution this book might make is to invite all of us to categorise all male intimate abusers as primarily sexual offenders. By removing the smokescreen of physical and emotional degradation we may find a new way of defining and intervening in adult intimate abuse. (81)
….the adult intimate abuser is much more devious than the paedophile and has managed to direct our attention away from his crime. His skill as a psychephile has resulted in all of us being conned by his language. Both the target woman and those who might help her have responded to his crime by allowing him to explain what is going on. (84)
….The target woman lives in the crime scene. The woman shares a home with her abuser. Most women who are identified as victims of intimate abuse have been sexually coerced and raped in their own bed. They are obliged to share the same bed with the perpetrator of these crimes. Many target women begin the process of separation by leaving the marriage bed. (86)
….One of the most disturbing outcomes of listening to skilled offenders is the realisation that all their abusive behaviour is intentional. ….these skilled offenders admitted to us that they are always in control. They reassured us that they measured their behaviours by their need for a desired outcome. ….they have continually reassured us that they are never overcome with rage. The anger that they portray when abusing their intimate partner is a deliberate tactic designed to hide their intentions. (87-8)
….Having learned during the set-up phase the value that the target woman places on her own abilities, the skilled offender will also begin offending against what makes her feel human. (96)
The psychephile is not so insecure that he needs her to meet his standards; rather, he is so clever that he can make her feel inadequate about the aspects of her life that underpin her view of herself. (97)
….their intimate knowledge of the target woman allowed them to confidently act in a criminal way, knowing the effect that their behaviour would have on the woman. They know the effect because the woman constantly tells them what is happening to her. She does so in the hope that if he becomes aware of her distress he will change. Her position is never acknowledged and she becomes convinced that he never listens to her. But he stores up her reaction to any abusive behaviour and knows that he can repeat that behaviour and be assured of the same response. (88)
As I have written before on this blog (The Explaining Trap), the target woman tries really hard to explain to the abuser that his behaviour is confusing, disrespectful and hurtful. The abuser loves it when she does that because it gives him information about how his tactics are affecting her.
Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war! (Psalm 120: 6-7)
….skilled offenders will know the outcome of any action that they visit on their partners. They do not take chances. They carefully monitor the extent of any strain that might emerge if they pursue their entitlements. They know in advance how far to develop any scenario. They have learned by monitoring and repetition the limits of what they can achieve. They know before they begin which levels of manipulation and intimidation they need to apply in order to achieve their immediate goal. All this certainty is founded on the information they have gleaned from their partner. They are the most well-informed criminals because they know their victim intimately. They can decide the time and place of the crime. They can dictate the response of the target. They can reassure themselves that they are unlikely to suffer any negative consequence for their actions. (92-3)
….Having been intimidatory or aggressive or after being violent, he will revert to any tactic that will get him what he wants. Most target women will be sexually available if they are reassured that it will repair the damage done by the crime. Some women are subjected to sexual aggression and rape as part of the assault. All target women know that his sexual needs are behind his behaviour. Very few women even talk about this aspect of the relationship because they know they will not be believed. They will have great difficulty in explaining how the adult male abuser can establish and maintain his sexual dominance in the relationship. The idea that her intimate partner could be so selfish is impossible to believe. (88-9)
….This level of male sexual pressure is the intimate secret that is seldom spoken of when we discuss adult intimate abuse. It is the issue that most target women want to keep hidden. Her ability to explain her terror is compromised because she wants to hide the secret of her sexual experience. She will minimise and lie rather than try to explain how a man who appears reasonable can be so intolerant of her sexual integrity. (90)
Other types of psychephiles — those who control by sexual rejection, the sexually inadequate, and the sexually deviant.
….While exploring the sexual needs of skilled offenders with both colleagues and clients I have identified a small number of violent and controlling men who do not appear to make undue sexual demands of their partners. Some of these men use the power of rejection as a weapon in undermining their partner’s sexual integrity. This rejection can have the same devastating effect as the process of rape by seduction or threat. (98)
I have also encountered a small population of abusive men who have problems of sexual inadequacy or sexual deviance. These offenders use their violence to ensure that their own sexual problems are not blamed for the difficulties in the relationship. I suspect that men with these issues are as common among the offender population as they are among the caring population of men. (99)
As I have begun to explore the intimate behaviours of some of my clients I have become aware of the most degrading and inhuman practices that some of my clients are forced into. (99)
When boys / men frequently indulge themselves in pornography, they may become unable to have normal sex with a woman. As Ps Sam Powell says (37:25 in this link) —
…we are in a huge epidemic now of pornography. It’s a terrible thing. It’s so bad that doctors now are having this huge influx of men who are in their early twenties that cannot have normal relations with a woman. They can’t do it. Because they have been so pounded with pornography from the time that they are 8 or 9 or 10 years old that they cannot have a normal relationship with a woman….what happens in pornography is that men prefer the pornography to an actual living and breathing woman…. And so they would rather lose themselves – and why is that? Because in pornography you can create whatever woman you want. You don’t have to deal with a real woman. You can create your own woman that’s exactly everything you want her to be. And she only exists in your head and in your fantasy and you can’t ever have a real relationship with her because she doesn’t actually exists. But you can pretend and lose yourself in that fantasy and bear all of the results.
We do the same thing with God. The second commandment forbids spiritual pornography. And that is creating a god in our head that we can worship that looks just like the things that we like only bigger, instead of actually dealing with and having a relationship with the one true God who actually exists….
The next post in this series will discuss the phases that come after the skilled abuser has selected, set-up, and groomed the target woman. Hennessy calls those phases offending, re-grooming and re-offending. The reader will perceive that I’ve already been talking about the offending phase in this post, but I needed to introduce Hennessy’s concept of the psychephile before I proceeded with the rest of this series.
This concept of the psychephile is possibly the most important contribution Hennessy has made. So let me summarize what I’ve conveyed in this post:
- The psychephile is a man who gains control of the mind of the target woman so that he can dictate the level of intimacy and sexual activity in the relationship.
- The psychephile is primarily a sexual offender.
- The goal of all his tactics is to have his sexual needs met without negotiation.
- He is more devious than a pedophile.
- He is the most well-informed criminal because he knows his victim intimately.
- Everything he does is intentional.
[May 16, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to May 16, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to May 16, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to May 16, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (May 16, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Our Don Hennessy Digest lists all the posts in this series and gives biographical details of Don Hennessy.
All indented quotes in this post are from Don Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head: The Mind of the Male Intimate Abuser [Affiliate link] Emphasis in quotes has been added by me. We have added this book to our Gift Books Offer in which we offer to give certain books to cash-strapped victims.
Don Hennessy’s next book, Steps to Freedom, will be coming out in March 2018. It will be 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.
The Abuser is Acting With Intentionality — It Takes us Normals a Long Time to Realize This
56 thoughts on “The male domestic abuser is a ‘psychephile’ – a sexual offender (Don Hennessy series part 4)”
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I hadn’t thought of the Fall in these terms before. Thank you. I’ll have to meditate on that. Interesting.
Yes. Bancroft calls this “building allies.” I’ve seen it happen time and again. I’ve lost friends over it. It can happen gradually. I think some of it is natural – as in, what’s wrong with him, is he sick? Can he be helped? Does he need counseling? And as Hennessey states – it is “the lifeblood” of the abuser. Even my parents, who are on my side, will toss out the occasional “do you think that’s why he does that?” NO! Stop looking for a reasonable explanation. When they do, it destabilizes me. Every. Time. Like taking a brick out of my wall of trust with them. I don’t think they realize how damaging it is.
Truth. We didn’t fight over toothpaste or how the toilet paper was put on the roll. Our biggest battles were over sex and it started immediately. For someone who wanted it “all the time” what Hennessy says here is correct. He would demand and reject. It was like being a yoyo. Well, do you want it or not?!
It’s interesting, I began to investigate / research abuse because my exh disclosed a 30 yr sexual addiction with accompanying compulsive behavior. Something he had kept hidden from everyone. On top of other behaviors that didn’t seem “right” to me. So, yes – Sexual Offender seems an appropriate title to me – it was the gateway, if you will, that eventually allowed me to see all the other forms of abuse going on. The downside was: we now had a label – a diagnosis and a treatment plan – we were all conned as Hennessy says. Tears. Programs. Therapy. Apologies. Fake Repentance. Collusion. I was the bad guy.
Definitely true. Upon disclosure, I immediately moved into the spare bedroom. He hated that. Moving out of the bedrooms was one the smartest first steps I took. It brought a lot of clarity while still living in the “crime scene.”
Thank you for the post! Lots to think about here.
It took an hour for me to read this because it was so painful to see the abuse of my last forty years uncovered completely! Without The comfort and guidance of God’s Word I could not go on living.
The excerpts are very triggering for me. He does explain it well, so well it is hard for me to even read through in one sitting. I avoided the first post in this series for that very reason and was too curious about the title of this one to do the same. Although painful, it is very empowering to get a deeper insight to the truth of this evil.
I’m glad Mr Hennessy mentions that there are abusers who also abuse by denying sex, and rejecting the wife’s intimate affection. (This often goes hand in hand with pornography use by the perpetrator. As well as his secret adultery he is also secretly abusing other women’s bodies via a computer screen and meeting his sexual needs that way.) These types of men are still sexually abusing their wives, but in another way entirely. It is a special type of cruelty and few women are able to speak out about it: one, because most sexual domestic violence talked about is when the husband is forcing sex, and two, it is horribly degrading and embarrassing to admit your husband has virtually no interest in you that way and seems to delight in rejecting you. Then the total confusion comes in when once in a blue moon it is violently demanded or forced. I hope more abuse advocates write about this form of sexual abuse (deliberate denial and rejection as form of control).
Yes! I found this part of the article very helpful, too. The rejection, the back turned to you. The sighs and head shaking. The blame for not being good or pretty or interesting enough for them anymore.
Then, every once in a while, blam! You must be ready, willing, and able to… And often it’s stuff you don’t want or is painful. But you’re supposed to be loving, submitting, and… THANKFUL! that he’s finally paying any attention to you. Because if you’re not thankful (that he’s hurting you), then you’re cold, unresponsive, and to blame for all the troubles in this area.
I am rejected all the time from sexual intimacy and have been for over 15 years, I have felt horrible about myself. Also other emotional abuse and mind games. Don’t want to go into detail in case they see this but he also has my mind so messed up from the mind games and having others believe for so long I was crazy and also using my kids. I didn’t talk about it to anyone again really for years then God started to reveal stuff to me and I mentioned to a close friend and they knew I was being abused but I needed to to process it. When I voice to my abuser and explain in detail the pain and how emotionally distraught it makes me feel they act like the victim and make me feel it’s my fault and I’m not okay.
Dear sister, your abuser does not care that he is hurting you. He is intentionally hurting you. He is shifting the blame onto you, rather than accepting blame himself.
I encourage you to get and read Don Hennessy’s book Steps to Freedom: Escaping Intimate Control [Affiliate link]. Don recommends that you do not voice to your abuser that his conduct pains or distresses you, and do not voice to him any of your plans to get our from under his control. Don wrote that book for female victims of domestic abuse who are being abused by men. The book gently encourages and validates you. It suggests small steps you can take to incrementally escape from the mind control which the abuser has done to you.
What you are suffering is not your fault. You are not to blame.
Men who abuse their female partners are highly skilled in surreptitiously invading the woman’s mind in order to control her.
Bless you and hugs if you want them. 🙂
Sadly, I can attest to the truth of this, and it is something, like he said, I do not like to think about much less share with anyone. Maybe coming to see the truth of the grooming or brainwashing will help me deal with the guilt.
That got to me. Seduction, coercion, prior agreement, as an attempt to keep a bit of peace. I didn’t see it as rape, but seeing the intent and the way I was set up, I’m seeing it now. If not rape, then some sort of sexual slavery.
Long ago, before marriage, he told me he expected sex to be a given, an undercurrent of our lives whether times were good or bad. He told me about how he had seen the dynamics of the woman withholding and the man having to earn it, and how unhealthy that is. Used Bible verses too.
I fully agreed, and it took me many long years to even question that I received no affection outside of sex, that he had no problem withholding, that I felt dirty afterwards. He always makes sure to bring me to orgasm, likes the feeling of power over my response, and it leaves me feeling used and teary and betrayed by my own body that this man who is not nice and does not care about me as a person and uses me in many ways and entrap me, that even with revulsion in my mind and soul, my body still responds.
I bought the book. Parts of it left me shaking. I want truth and I want freedom.
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Thank you so much for your comment, Becoming. 🙂
It has helped me.
Thank you for telling me, Barbara. I’m glad it helped. I’ve been reading here a while and many of your articles have helped and resonated with me.
This post is so dead-on accurate. It perfectly describes my experience and what I have come to understand in the last 8 years of freedom from it.
I wonder if there is a typo in the paragraph that ends in (88), right above the orange The Explaining Trap: “She does so in the hope that if he becomes aware of her distress, she will change.” Should it read “he will change”?
Thanks, freeing hope. I have fixed that typo. 🙂
This is a very disturbing read. I’m glad every time I read someone who “gets” it though. I wish we could all fast forward to a time when this information is basic knowledge everyone in our culture is aware of as being true. Getting there is hard, because mostly it’s only victims who understand this stuff and it’s hard for victims to be the ones to defend and spread this information.
The abuser is a sex offender. DV and SA go hand in hand. Women seemed to be trained out of recognizing rape and sexual coercion. I think it is so common it’s like fish noticing water — it doesn’t really happen.
One time I reacted in a way that was unusual for me and I yelled to all that could hear me that my husband was a rapist and women and children need to protect themselves because [his name] is a rapist. He shut me up quickly thereafter but for that one moment in time the truth was out. He knew it. I knew it. But it was just a quick flash of truth and light before being consumed by darkness, numbness, trauma, dissociation and mind-mucking all over again.
Fear operates the same way. He only needs to beat you really badly once and from then on the mere threat of such happening again keeps you entirely controlled. Maybe he never brings a knife or gun into the bedroom but if he has nearly suffocated you to death, beaten you unconscious, knocked the wind out of you, had you saying your final prayers as you felt death coming on, then from that time on, the fear you feel, the implied threat to his demands, it’s rape. There’s no consent. There’s nothing free or voluntary. It is, “do you want to die?”
And once one’s life has so much fear, terror, and horror in it that it seems normal, a person cannot even realize they are afraid and living an abnormal life of fear, force, trauma because the ocean water to a fish just is the way it is……normal. Hell on earth and a person starts feeling as though God must hate them because He won’t let them die and they keep waking up…..
I think once a person realizes just how evil abusers actually are, just what monsters they truly are, they’ll advocate for rounding them up and shipping them off to an island far away where they can cannibalize each other for all I care.
Thank you for this. That normalization of what is evil – you worded it perfectly. I never wished to not wake up or to just die, but I certainly wished he would just not wake up, or have a terrible accident or anything to give me peace.
This article has been one of the hardest to read – with tears interspersed and heart-wrenching sobs after reading the comment above. But Praise God! “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. I know that coming to a deeper understanding of the truth – even when it is excruciating- is paving the way to a higher level of freedom. Thank God I came out of the fog!
And thank you Barbara for the work that you have put in to these articles on Hennessy’s book. May God richly bless you, as He blesses us through you!!
Thanks, Momto7. I think many abused women would have great big sighs of relief if their abusers would die.
Abusers are murderers. The abused die little deaths along the way.
I wish you and your children the very, very best. 🙂
Wow, I mean wow, this was me, but I never looked at it like this before.
The sexual part of my abusive marriage I’ve never discussed before, but about 2 years before my ex finally left I stopped having sex with him. I just couldn’t give of myself in that capacity to that abusive man any longer.
I craved love and affection throughout that 20 year marriage but was always told how frigid I was or that it was like living with his cousin. Yet in reality, I craved the sexual part of marriage.
Then in [year redacted] I remarried a wonderful loving man who helped me re-discover or perhaps reawaken my sexual self that had been destroyed for so many years.
I’m loving this series, but honestly, the posts are real triggers and can take me a full day to get through. It’s been nearly a decade since my ex left, but healing from the abuse may take a lifetime.
Yes. ^ This. Many a conversation, begging, pleading for non-sexual touch. Affection. And never did I truly get it. If it started off affectionate and friendly it somehow always developed into a “hook” for sex. It was slimy and felt like “now you owe me.” So much manipulation and coercion.
I am glad to hear you have found someone to help you reclaim your sexual self. I fear my own sexuality is destroyed beyond repair. Your story gives me hope…though I do not pursue a relationship nor desire one.
Slimy. Yes definitely slimy. Well put.
I’m only beginning to realize the extent to which he sexually abused me. As I have been processing through the acts, behaviors, attitudes, the emotion of living in that crime scene for years, I have started to pick up on the fact that it’s all related. Just last night, I wrote that I understand now that this is primarily a situation of sexual violence, control, coercion, etc. This post was enormously helpful in guiding my understanding of this realization.
On a related note, Why do you think it takes so long to realize this? Or maybe others have realized it more quickly.
Why do I think it takes so long to realise? Because the skilled offenders are so clever at hiding what they are doing. In a post yet to come in this series, I am going to report more of what Hennessy says about this. I will copy and paste that bit here:
Those excerpts certainly give me something to think about. My most recent meeting with my counselor found me saying that my gut instinct as well as my thoughtful, prayerful preference would be to take out a protection order. But I am afraid to do that because, although so far I have received mostly support, I am worried that if I do that the people that have trusted and supported me so far will think I am overreacting and being dramatic or acting crazy.
My counselor asked if that’s really what I think or if it’s what my abuser wanted me to think. I realized that even the words I use – overreaction, dramatic, crazy etc. – are stuck in my mind from his manipulation and (fumbling for words) brainwashing.
So I think I’d have to agree with what you shared from the book. I will be looking forward to the following posts. Thank you again for doing this!
I know that struggle. I lost a lot of people but, to me, it is still worth it. There a different things that are hard now, but I have not once regretted doing it. Stay strong, and God bless.
You’re not crazy for worrying that filing a protection order might bring criticism and maybe even some falling away with friends and church members. Trust your gut. I lost my ‘C’hristian counselors’ and church’s willingness to even speak to us after I filed for my order. The church leaders and counselors heaped shame after shame upon my head for taking out the order. It happens. A lot. They (the church) resented that I brought in (the church people used whisper tones for the word…) secular authorities into my situation. They wanted to try handling everything in-house with a few trite verses and shaming me with “submit and pray more,” all the while comforting him for his “troubles”.
You know the people around you well. You’ve seen their history, and how they have treated and talked about “those poor women” that were abused or had “difficult marriages” in the past. You know how they view us. Trust yourself. You are brave and wise. You know more than you know.
All that being said, it was absolutely worth it to file for my order. It was gut-wrenching and scary, but worth it. Just the peace of mind that the order gave – that we would have a legal leg to stand on if he showed up – helped me and my kids. And by God’s grace, the judge who signed my order made it even MORE protective than I had asked for! Before becoming a judge, he had been a lawyer FOR THE LOCAL WOMEN’S SHELTER! He had seen these guys all before and “got” the evil we were dealing with. I do understand that this is not always the case. But my experience told me, as many of us have found, that I found much help in the secular arena, and damaging betrayal and shunning in the church.
The order also helped us because x knew that if he violated it, he would face legal action, which would tarnish his glittering public persona – having to be fingerprinted and mug-shotted if he violated. My x wanted to avoid the public scrutiny at all costs. So it kept him away.
Took me years of therapy and studying books, articles and these blog posts to come to terms with this.
This has been a hard series, as others have stated because it’s so triggering. But it is very helpful. I have physical reactions to some of what I read including the comments that you’ve all shared. One thing triggering does is remind me I am not living in a vacuum. It’s not just me. The lie that he keeps trying to push is that I have an attitude problem and my perceptions are wrong is a part of his manipulation and I recognize it now.
The sexual abuse is one of the reasons I stayed stuck for so long. I did not believe in divorce so what choice did I have but to go into denial? What kept me stuck is getting me out because I realize I cannot live with a rapist as a husband. I’m planning my latest attempt at escape and this time I will have support, a clear mind and not worry that I’m sinning and angering the God who loves me by divorcing.
My heart goes out to you. I left my husband after 31 years. He raped me along with all the other evil types of abuse that nearly destroyed me.
As sad as divorce is, I have not missed him for one moment nor believe that I have sinned in divorcing him. I did lose my church, much of my support system, my reputation, etc. but it is STILL so worth it to be free. I have found great help especially from a trauma-trained Christian psychologist. The further I am away from it, the more I understand how bad it was. I still struggle with my not understanding what was happening but he is so manipulative and deceitful.
This article was helpful even when it hurt.
Thanks for your compassionate comment. It gives me hope. I’m so glad you are free now. Jesus promises us an abundant life and I am holding on to that promise. Once I escape the thief I can live instead of exist.
I’m still struggling to come to terms with how I did not realise what was really going on was sexualised abuse. For me the most disturbing aspect is that he knew but I did not. It makes sense but it just feels so horrific. And that it was right from the start I was set up to be humiliated, violated, degraded but persuaded that it was expressions of “love” and “desire” and told if I wasn’t responsive then this was just because I had sexual issues. When unbeknownst to me I was living in the upside down lands.
I’ve read the book recently and think it’s amazing. The only aspect he could have explored more is how we do resist i.e. by choosing to leave the marital bed or refusing to give affection as a form of enraged protest. Our resistance may also have been unrecognised by us at the time.
Thanks Boudica, good comment! In Hennessy’s next book which is coming out in March, I am guessing he will discuss the target woman’s resistance a lot more, because the book is written for target women, not for counselors and helping professionals.
I’m struggling to come to terms with this as well. I’m so sorry that your experience has been similar. I hope that you are finding clarity and peace.
The part about him supposedly not understanding her, and about her trying to explain to him… That reminds me of all those ridiculous Mars and Venus books, which claim that men and women merely speak different languages and that’s why he says hurtful, insulting, confusing, contradictory, or stupid things. even though that doesn’t explain why he could know something is true on Tuesday, but not on Wednesday. Especially not if he is the so-called logical sex. Or why he has trouble understanding his wife’s behavior, even though it is not a female specific behavior. It also reminds me of George Carlin’s misguided quote, women are crazy because men are stupid. It’s more like, women are confused because men are gaslighting them… And then called crazy for being confused.
Maybe if we stop the ridiculous, men and women speak different languages, nonsense – which even people in very gender differentiated societies don’t and didn’t believe – maybe abusive men would not be able to use it to get away with using word salad and playing stupid.
I can’t tell you how long I wasted trying to explain stuff to men who are obviously lying, because I was taught that everybody had a different perspective than I did, especially men, and that the reason I couldn’t understand people was because I had Asperger’s, not an abuser talking to me lol. There are still some things in which I’m not sure the man is lying or not when I talk to him, but at least now I am aware that if something seems like it doesn’t make any sense, that it may very well be that he is just not telling the truth and playing dumb.
And, even if it is possible that he really just doesn’t understand you, if he refuses to answer a fair and non-accusatory question, then you can be sure that his motives in general [are] not positive, because why else would somebody not want to answer an obviously harmless question?
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From Lyla’s comment:
Yes! My anti-husband does this all the time. Why anyone would sit there and stare at someone with a little smirk and self-satisfaction because he is just not going to answer the question is beyond me.
The first area that I established as a boundary was financial. The second one was sexual. I think the financial was so that I would be available to him sexually. Something that I’ve been thinking about is the teaching that is sometimes encountered in churches that married sexuality will solve all men’s lust problems – and the key is that wives need to be available 24 / 7 to meet any of those sexual desires.
I’ve looked for resources about the sexual abuse within marriage for several years, but there aren’t many of them that deal with it directly.
Thank you so much for your comment, Infinite Grace! And welcome to the blog. 🙂
Here is our FAQ page about sexual abuse. And here is our Tag for Sexual Abuse; there are currently 81 posts under that tag.
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I’ve never heard my marriage relationship described as accurately as it is in this article. He happens to be a convicted child molester who always claimed to be “cured”. But I’m seeing now that I have simply taken the place of a child to him. My counselor has also recently suggested to me that I was “targeted” for my niceness.
Thank you so much for sharing this.
If you have not yet looked at Clara Hinton’s blog, I encourage you to do so. For decades she was married to an active pedophile and all that time did not realise he was molesting children. He targeted her for marriage because he could see she was kind and she was lonely and vulnerable because she was suffering from many losses from her childhood.
Here is the place to start reading her story: Chosen to be a Child Molester’s Enabler: The Beginning of My Story [Internet Archive link]
This underscores the evil of abusers. They pick and target the kindest, nicest, most generous, most loving women and they destroy her. They use her goodness against her. They kill her soul and stomp her psyche and then they say, ‘look at this crazy, psycho, crappy woman I was so kind as to try and love — see what a great guy I am for trying?!’
Rapists, wife-beaters, attempted murderers. The abusers are going to hell and that is about all the comfort I have as the courts protect the powerful abuser / predator, not the powerless, barely alive, victim.
Yes, all sinners are going to hell unless the Lord quickens their dead spirit to life and brings them to saving faith.
And the ones who have practiced heinous sin intentionally such as the types of sinners you described in your comment, are very very resistant to obeying God. This is what Scripture says:
I have been married to a male who was sexually abused severely as a child by his mother. He has had many sexual relationships several long term on the side. He must always be in control of these side relationships.
Hi and welcome to the blog. To help protect your safety, I changed your screen name to AliasScreenName.
I too have known a man who was severely sexually abused by his mother when he was growing up. He became pretty promiscuous in adulthood, so far as I know.
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I have added this to the text of this post:
When boys / men frequently indulge themselves in pornography, they may become unable to have normal sex with a woman. As Ps Sam Powell says (37:07 in this link) —
There are now robotic ‘sex’ dolls that come looking [like?] very pornographic standards of ‘beauty’, with state of the art simulated skin / touch, and now, there’s built-in artificial intelligence so this thing talks to you, does Siri-like smart phone type things, learns about the man, acts like she is super into the man, and simulates being a porn star for the man. She looks real and talks to the guy, asking if he wants to have sex now and who knows what other, more graphic things are not revealed for news pieces.
A sex-bot out of China (maybe elsewhere) has had millions of men profess their love to this bot. It doesn’t exist. It’s a computer program. And yet men have ‘fallen in love’ with it. A one-way conversation with a bot is more fulfilling to these guys than actual women.
Then there’s the constant online porn. The prostitution and other prostitution-promoting places (like ‘massage’ parlors), kids being pimped out on the streets, and so very, very much more.
What it must be like for teenage girls these days and what the content of their first dates or first crushes or first kisses, etc. must be like.
From the original post:
I have spent my entire life at war, and my body has been the battleground. Parts of the original post, many of the comments…there is no demarcation between war zones.
I feel like one of Bil Baird’s [Internet Archive link] marionettes…I was blessed to see his live show.
Similarly, ABBA’s I’m a Marionette [Internet Archive link]. I would include the lyrics, but I suspect it would be against copyright. The lyrics are eerily accurate.
I would say this hurts…..BUT. I. FEEL. NUMB.
Lady Anon’s referenced sex-bot.
Someone’s wind up toy.
Thank God this part of my life is done….I don’t think I’d survive another betrayal.
[April 2, 2022: We added the links to Bil Baird and I’m a Marionette. Editors.]
Wow, this talks about my experience in my marriage. 😭
For your safety and protection, I have changed the screen name you submitted with your comment to Anonymous, as it appears you may have submitted the comment under your real name. If you prefer a different screen name, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, Anonymous, welcome to the blog! 🙂 I’m glad you found this post helpful. Don Hennessy’s insights into the male intimate abuser are outstanding, are they not?
Don Hennessy’s third book, How He Wins: Abusive Intimate Partners Going Free, is coming out very soon. It can be
pre-ordered here [Affiliate link] at Amazon UK. I expect that other Amazon sites will soon show it too.
I have recorded two videos to promote How He Wins. The videos are basically the same but one is 11 minutes and the other is 4 minutes. I am awaiting word from the publisher of How He Wins, Liberties Press Ireland, as to when to make those videos public. When I make them public, I will be posting the longer video at this blog.
Love Hennessy’s work. A question bugs me though. If the psychephile’s aim is to have access to sex without negotiation with his intimate partner, why are DV perpetrators so intent on crushing their victims after separation? Would a better definition of a psychephile be one who feels entitled to superiority over his partner in all aspects, not just to to meet his sexual needs?
From what I understand, the term psychophile accurately describes the sexual conditioning and behaviour employed by a DV perp. But for dealing with the DV perp, this psychophile behaviour is best seen within the larger context of psychopathy.
Domestic violence is psychopathic behaviour.
Anyone engaging in psychopathic behaviour is best regarded as a psychopath.
Psychopaths regard everybody around them as a resource that they (the psychopath) are entitled to use as they wish.
Any ‘human resource’ that does not comply with the psychopath’s wishes / commands is seen as a ‘Bad Person’
‘Bad People’ deserve to be punished as much as is necessary to achieve compliance.
Hence, the ongoing multi-form abusive behaviour of divorced / separated perps.
Psychopaths are driven to cause harm. They are relentless.
The only time they appear to be doing good is when they are setting up someone for greater harm.
Everything they utter is deceitful in one way or another.
Of course, it is worse than a waste of time trying to reason with them.
That’s a very helpful way to explain the dynamics, James. Thank you.
Thanks, James, for your excellent reply to Anonymous. I was intending to write a similar reply to Anonymous, but you got there before me. I don’t think I can add anything to your comment — it covered all the bases.
Anonymous, please forgive me for leaving your question un-replied to for so long. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got lead weights on my feet and once I’ve done ‘one or two hard things’ for the day I can’t face doing another hard thing that day. Plus, I always have too many balls in the air that I’m trying to juggle….
Thank you, Sharon and Barb.
And to Anonymous I should have prefaced my answer to your question:
Yes, I believe you are absolutely right. You’ve hit the nail on the head!
Thanks, James, Sharon, and Barb.
I wish I could get Don Hennessy to participate in this discussion, but unfortunately he seldom answers emails, let alone gets involved in blogs. I get the impression he’s not very tech-savvy.