Re-offending: the increasingly dangerous culminating phase in male intimate abuse (Don Hennessy series part 6)
The skilled offender becomes progressively more abusive the longer he maintains control over his target woman. This is a truth universally acknowledged by those who have professional or long-term personal experience in the dynamics of domestic abuse.
For their hearts are like an oven
As they approach their plotting;
Their anger smolders all night,
In the morning it burns like a flaming fire. (Hosea 7:6)
I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter;
And I did not know that they had devised plots against me (Jer. 11:19a)
… she is completely powerless as to the level of abuse she is receiving. He dictates, he measures… she has no control over that at all. Even if she went along with all of his wishes he could still be abusive the next day.
(Men who abuse women ‘use the same tactics as pedophiles and I’ve never met one who wanted to change’, says author of How He Gets in her Head – Independent.ie)
The ability of the skilled offender to return the relationship to the status quo means that his demands increase without any limiting factors. As this cycle repeats itself the offender grows more confident in his ability to gain a response to his demands. He is reconfirmed in his belief that he will suffer little or no consequences for his behaviour. (111)
Some skilled offenders act out their controls in different ways. Some operate a system of intense monitoring. Others leave the target woman free until they have a need. But both types are violent if their demands are resisted. Both types can be lethal if their demands are regularly refused. Psychephiles may also become more dangerous if they feel that there is a possibility that they will be exposed. (111-112)
Any attempt [by the woman] to elicit support from her abuser will also lead to an increased risk of abuse and violence. (114)
Re-offending occurs when the target woman tries to establish her right to negotiate. Target women who no longer try to establish this right may no longer experience overt abuse. (112)
I encourage you to read the above two sentences over again. They express a truth which most well-known Christian teachers on marriage have failed to recognise.
Some of the people who are have failed to recognize this truth are Debi Pearl, Mary Kassian, Nancy DeMoss-Wolgemuth, Wayne Grudem, Stormie Omartian, creators of “The Love Dare”, John Piper, Desiring God, John MacArthur, CBMW, Voddie Baucham, Emerson Eggerichs and Lori Alexander.
The majority of ‘c’hristian teachers and preachers on marriage have abysmally failed to recognize or understand the tactics used by men who abuse their wives. Men who abuse their female intimate partners — psychephiles — have succeeded in shaping and manipulating the ideas that most bible-believing Christians have about marriage.
Most of the leaders in the “conservative evangelical church” who are teaching about marriage are teaching wives to voluntarily submit to their husbands. That teaching is fine…if the husband is not a psychephile, not an abuser. But if the husband is a psychephile, that teaching stymies the target woman whom the psychephile has targeted and groomed. It stymies her in a terrible dilemma of conscience. It compounds and prolongs the abuse she will suffer under her abusive husband. It enables the abusive husbands. It crushes the souls of the women who have been targeted by psychephiles.
Many of my clients are totally compliant and resist seeing themselves as battered or abused women. These women have had their instincts silenced and are living their lives under the baton of their abusers. (112)
But the target woman who tries to negotiate or resist will always find herself being put under some pressure and fear. If she continues to resist she may be assaulted. If she declines sexual intimacy she may be coerced or forcibly raped. (112)
In this chapter [on re-offending] and in the chapter on offending I have deliberately resisted going into detail about the physical assaults that reinforce the emotional and spiritual attacks. This is because abusers have concentrated on the issue of blows and kicks in a way which has allowed men to claim that women are equally violent. The issue of intimate male abuse is much more than physical assault. (122)
Most women keep secret the truly awful experiences of the bedroom
Hennessy describes a case of a husband and wife who were both involved in the Cork Domestic Violence Project. Initially the wife had come seeking help for her husband. He eventually came and enrolled for the men’s group. Both partners remained in regular contact with the project over the next two years. The wife (the client) was regularly interviewed alone by the project workers to establish her level of risk and the history of the relationship. It had been an extremely physically violent relationship. She also attended their women’s support group.
When the two years’ work was complete we were reassured by both partners that violence had waned and our client was no longer afraid. We congratulated ourselves on our success. (113)
Some years later we invited our client to give some testimony about the influence of the project on her life. While she was living in greater freedom, she explained that what had most influenced her husband’s behaviour was the repeated threat by her three sons to expose him publicly if he was violent to her again. (113)
But as the interview developed it emerged that she was now prepared to talk about the sexual degradation and rape that was a constant part of her married life. Even though she had an intense and active connection with the project for two years, she had kept secret the truly awful experiences of her bedroom. (113)
… She described graphically the inhuman sexual activity that her husband forced on her. She spoke for more than ten minutes without interruption. She told us more in those ten minutes than in all the interviews and counseling sessions that she had attended. While reviewing this tape I began to realise that our clients could not speak of their sexual exploitation either while it was continuing or for some time after it had stopped. (113)
This encouraged me to re-interview some of my previous clients. These interviews confirmed that my clients had hidden their sexual history while working with the project. It also confirmed that my clients believed they should have a tolerance for sexual exploitation. This tolerance is supported by the communal attitude of ‘making your bed and lying in it’. (113)
Only very skilled counselors will even approach the extent of sexual coercion and rape that exists in these relationships. (115)
In such an intense and unequal relationship it becomes inevitable that the most intimate ideas and opinions that a woman has about her sexuality are not respected. (116)
Gradually, the woman begins to accept his interpretation of conjugal rights. She becomes convinced, as women have in every other generation, that male conjugal right have precedence over female conjugal rights. (116)
Biblical truth check: The apostle Paul denounced the idea that male conjugal rights take precedence. In 1 Corinthians 7:4 he wrote that the wife has just as much authority as the husband in the marriage bed. (See my article Saying no to sex with one’s spouse)
Hennessy concludes his chapter on re-offending with an account of an abuser who was – wait for it – a pillar of his local church.
Paul was one of the most dangerous men I have met in my work to date. He was a successful business man, a community activist and a pillar of his local church. (122)
I don’t have space to relay the whole account; I can only encourage you to get Hennessy’s book and read it for yourself. The account Hennessy gives of this abuser Paul reminds me of Ps Jeff Crippen’s article Why the “Christian” Abuser is the Worst Kind.
Our Don Hennessy Digest lists all the posts in this series and gives biographical details of Don Hennessy.
All the 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.