A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Videos of Don Hennessy and other Irish DV professionals (Don Hennessy series part 9)

The real question is, “How do men get a woman to go back into an abusive relationship or to stay in an abusive relationship?”

Here are three documentary videos made by Gerard Lough (10 mins each) which feature Irish experts in domestic abuse. They were made in 2007.

The speakers:

  • Don Hennessy (Director, National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency)
  • Fiona Doherty (Manager, Donegal Domestic Violence Service)
  • Kate Hudis (Counselor)

After each link I will give some of the best sound-bite quotes from the speakers.

The Long Term Effect part 1 of 3

Don Hennessy:

Why does a woman stay?” is the wrong question. The real question is, “How do men get a woman to go back into an abusive relationship or to stay in an abusive relationship?”

Fiona Doherty:

It is the emotional/psychological abuse which is the most damaging to women, and they’re the hardest to prove.

Don Hennessy:

While we had an occasional phone call from men who said they were victims of violence and abuse in a relationship, I’ve actually only met one.

The Long Term Effect part 2 of 3

Don Hennessy:

Perpetrators are driven by two very powerful combined forces. One of them is a sense of entitlement. The other is a word which is probably a bit old fashioned but I call it lust. And when you combine those two together, there is very little that limits the energies they provide for guys.

Essentially what a man is looking for when he meets a partner, is a sexual partner. He’s not looking someone to make his bed or to make his dinner or anything else; essentially he’s looking for a sexual partner.

When and if that lust is in some way to be modified, the sexual entitlement that he has doesn’t allow him to modify that sense of lust. So his sexual desires and his sexual motivation become the driving force in everything that he does.

Fiona Doherty:

We have had three women come through our program who have been abused by the same man. So obviously the pattern of abuse just continued.

Note 1: In this video Hennessy refers to how he was a car salesman earlier in his career, and that experience helped him to recognize the con-man tactics of men who abuse their female partners.

Note 2: This video refers to “anger management programs”. The abusive man’s anger is not the root of the problem. Many people have mistakenly believed that it is, and have prescribed anger management programs for men who abuse their intimate partners.  I am confident that Hennessy would agree that anger is not the core problem, because he says that the abusive man’s mentality of entitlement along with his lust is the core of the problem.

The Long Term Effect part 3 of 3

Don Hennessy:

It is pretty certain that about 20% of women who are in intimate relationships are being abused. And that is the standard in all western cultures.

What the refuge movement is about is to give the victims space to think for themselves. Outside of the physical protection, if you can protect the victim’s mind from being got at by the perpetrator, then over a period of time – and it can happen quite quickly – the victim will recover her ability to think for herself and begin to see the world as she saw it when she was 18 or 20 before she ever got into this relationship, and begin to use her language again, as distinct from the language of the perpetrator.


Our Don Hennessy Digest lists all the posts in this series and gives biographical details of Don Hennessy.


  1. Anonymous

    I love how he says he has only met one real male victim of domestic abuse. No disrespect to any male victims, as they are certainly out there, my own Dad was one. But it is true they are really that rare and there a significant number of male abusers pretending to be the victim. It’s just the truth.

    If an abused woman finds herself in that predicament (abusive Husband telling all and sundry he is somehow the victim of abuse), it is an awful experience, as they the abusers are such convincing creatures. It is like being re-abused all over again by proxy (via anyone that believes him).

    • Eagerlabs

      Abuse by proxy…yes!

      Oftentimes they don’t even need to say anything as the protectors of evil will defend them and demonize the victim as soon as the victim utters the truth anyway. —
      “Oh you’re disrespectful.”
      “I’m worried they heard what you said.”
      “Students (yes..she actually said student) give up without incentives and you’re being too harsh.”
      “You’re not listening.”
      “Jesus suffered.”
      “I’m older and wiser than you so you need to listen to me.”

  2. Seeing Clearly

    In video 1, Don uses the phrase, ‘he has invaded her thinking process…..’. As a result, the victim must subconsciously develop the process of mentally integrating his words with her own words. Integration of two contrary thought processes into one becomes a necessary requirement in day to day life experiences. How exhausting, confusing, degrading at a deep level of managing daily existence.

    Perhaps this chronic stress is a dominant source of physical illnesses that are so prevalent in long term abuse relationships. It spirals at a vicious speed.

    • W

      There’s research studies about the health effects of abuse and women’s health is markedly affected by abuse even 10, 20, 30 years down the line. Even if she gets out of the abusive relationship (and it’s not really a ‘relationship’ now, is it?!) in her 20s or 30s, researchers can track the effects and the STRESS that abusers inflict upon their victims ruins them. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia (something like that), premature aging on a cellular level, her neurons are changed, it ages her and does so badly, depression, anxiety, ptsd, it’s all there. The number of women’s lives that are destroyed by abusers is tremendous. If women mattered and women were truly valued by society, abusers would be stopped in their tracks, maybe hung in the town square, not given 5 more women to victimize with impunity as he strolls along in life.

      Chronic stress is the natural expected effect of life with an abuser and it kills the women’s health. It ages her brain in a dramatic fashion and that’s not even to start talking about how many head injuries and concussions women experience with the abusers violently shaking the woman, slamming her up against walls, throwing them down, and so forth. CTE is a big thing for pro-football players and some long-term abused and battered women have rates that compare to pro-football players. But women aren’t treated medically and nobody wants to fund studies to empirically prove this reality, but it’s there.

      • The state I live in (Victoria, Australia) is thought by some DV professionals to be one of the leading places in the world for addressing domestic and family violence (DFV). And the state government is putting effort into primary prevention, not just providing better laws and services to protect the existing victims.

        One of the many good things that are happening here is a Research Consortium on Acquired Brain Injury and Family Violence. It has made four recommendations to the Victorian Government.



      • W

        So Australia is studying and documenting this, too. I don’t think it’s anything new but rather its very hard to document and study things when abused and battered women are rarely seen by medical professionals.

        And once a woman is disabled by head injuries, trauma, or other abuse-related injuries/damages/harms, then she is all the more likely to be abused again as predatory persons do love a disabled target. The rates of sexual assault and victimization from domestic abuse for disabled women are extremely high, Just like developmentally disabled women are almost guaranteed to be sexually assaulted and/or abused.

        I don’t know how one lives in hope. Maybe the only hope is in the bystander effect being changed where we drill it into people’s heads — if you see or hear something, say something…. how many women’s cries and shrieks and bruises, etc. are seen and heard by neighbors who say nothing. Maybe they don’t want to get involved because abusers are dangerous thug criminals and all but perhaps they can anonymously call 911 and just say they think they hear a woman being beaten at such and such address and hang up.

        I don’t know. I just look forward to going and being with God and being done with this wretched life. Too many evil people operating with impunity.

        Thanks for running this website and it is like a church of sorts for those of us whose lives have been destroyed and ravaged by wolves, big and small. Blessings to you, Barb and TWBTC! 🙂 🙂

      • 911 is the number to call in the USA. In Australia we call 000. I think that may be the same in other countries too, but I’m not sure.

  3. Sara

    About 6 minutes into the 3rd video, Gerard asks Don about the “unpleasantness of interviewing one of them.” But Don laughs and responds with how “extraordinarily how nice they all are.” I think Gerard miss something very profound. Abusers don’t reveal their evil-heartedness within to the world — they only reveal it in private to their intimate partner and children. The abuser is too busy grooming everyone around them to be unpleasant.

    We want the abuser to sound and look like the evildoer that they are, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    My ex revealed a great deal of his abuse to our marriage counselor. When I told the counselor that I was leaving, he helped me formulate a safety plan, and told me how afraid for my safety he was — but the very last thing my counselor told me was “I hope the two of you can work things out because there is just something about him that I like.” My ex had groomed the counselor.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Never used a nonreligious marriage counselor, but sat in the room for many, many hours with 4 different religious ones. Not one caught on that my ex was an abuser. They enjoyed spending time in conversation with him, found him intriguing, I guess.

  4. Stronger Now

    My stbx groomed every single pastor or counselor we or I ever saw. The only one he didn’t groom was the one who never met him. She helped me find my sanity and escape.

    Don Hennessey is right when he says at the end, these men will spend their final days or years profoundly alone. Unlike Hennessey, however, I do not feel sad. He has made choices over and over again throughout his life. He has had thousands of opportunities to choose differently. He has isolated himself on purpose in order to be able to continue his abusive patterns, because he has a profound belief in his own entitlement. He’s getting exactly what he deserves, and what he has intentionally chosen.

    Like the person who turns their back on God, who then spends Eternity apart from God, my abuser has chosen power rather than intimacy. That’s his choice. All I am doing is letting him have his own way.

  5. Clockwork Angel

    Hi all,

    This post is off topic, but I was wondering if you would all pray for me? I’ve been having the worst bout of depression I’ve ever had, for two weeks straight. I can only think of one time in my life where it’s been this bad and this constant, and that was when I was living with my abusive father at the height of his abuse, and right after he left and my Mom and I were facing homelessness. I’ve been safe from him for many years. Yet I’ve been so depressed these past two weeks, despairing of life itself. I just keep waking up every morning not wanting to live anymore. There’s just so much rampant evil in the church (and always has been) and it’s bogging me down and undermining my trust in God.

    Please pray that I’m not shaken. I worry I’ll do something stupid, and my mom needs me. I love my Mom and I don’t want to leave her. She’s my best friend. I know I’m not thinking clearly, it’s just that I’m so depressed. Please pray for me that God will lift my depression, and that it won’t come back.


    • I will pray.

    • W

      I prayed for you, too, Clockwork Angel and I’m sure almost everyone else who reads your post will be saying one for you, as well.

      I struggle with being suicidal and it’s really serious stuff to be walking a tightrope line between life and death. I’m sorry you are struggling. Really sorry.

      Pastor Crippen posted something about suicide on his blog awhile ago, (lightfordarktimes.com) and it was helpful to read a pastor reiterating the Bible verse that says nothing will (can?) snatch them out of My hand.

    • Gany T.

      Praying for you now, CA.

    • Song of Joy

      Praying for you Clockwork Angel! {hugs}

      Even though my nickname has “joy” in it, I struggle with depression too, and I find this scripture comforting.
      Psalm 23:4 (KJV)
      Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

    • You might find Psalm 94 helpful, CA. I read it last night before going to sleep and it brought your situation to mind.

    • Clockwork Angel

      Thanks everyone for praying for me!

      I’m feeling better now. Still waking up with some anxiety in the mornings, but it gets better not long after. I love you all!

  6. W

    I want to also comment about the video clips where the man who has just grabbed his victim, put his foot on her back, etc….. he shouldn’t have his head buried in his hands, or looking like his is distraught or disturbed as such is ACTING — it is a total LIE and the abusers just PRETEND to be negatively affected by this all. Same goes for the video portion where his victim is on the bed, crying, and with her back to him, the abuser comes in with flowers and ACTS as though he is all trying to comfort her and doesn’t know whether or not to touch her back/head in comforting her and just leaves the roses on the bed…… Ladies, that is CRUD. Pure crud. The abuser knows he is a monster. These men pride themselves on it. Same with the therapist saying how she thinks abusers are in denial. They are NOT in denial. They are just lying criminals and manipulative abusers and thugs. They are not in distress at any point through this whole process. The whole ‘relationship’ is their predation of some unsuspecting, targeted, abused woman. Abusers are wicked evildoers and don’t ever forget it.

    What is the saying about wifebeating? And mind you, the abuser men know this saying (among so many, many others), a woman, a dog, and something else….. the more you beat them, the better they are/behave. It’s some revolting saying from way back when but still, the sheer brutality and callousness and manipulativeness of these predators cannot be overestimated.

    • Thanks W, I re-watched the videos yesterday while finalising this post and I noticed how the counselor described abusers as ‘in denial’. I agree with you that it is wrong to say they are in denial, because they know what they are doing is wrong and they have known that from day one.

      Dr George Simon has taught us that the term ‘in denial’ is misunderstood and misused by many people including many mental health practitioners. I will find the link for what he said later, if someone else has not added it to this thread by then. (I have only just woken up in Oz.) Very likely that counselor, if we could have a conversation with her, would agree with us that the abusers know they are doing wrong, and when she said they are ‘in denial’ what she meant is that they resist telling the truth to counselors and other professionals– and that truth is: they are fully conscious that their conduct and mindset is intentionally evil.

    • Hi W, just a quick note as I’m not sure whether it is safe to email you. In regard to concerns you expressed in the comments thread at another post, I would like to invite you to read this comment of mine:

      Thanks 🙂 🙂

  7. Seeing Clearly

    Thoughts on “entitlement” and “lust”. Two very powerful words that were alluded to regularly in the fundamental church teachings.

    1) Men were understandably entitled to more than women. Misinterpreted teachings welded “submission” as placing women powerless under men. The women who dared stand up were labeled “a problem”, to say the least. Growing up, I gave no thought to the ridiculousness of this teaching. Actually, it was/is a destructive teaching. I gave far too many allowances to men because they were entitled.

    2) It was understood that men simply can’t help lusting. Much of it was blamed on the women and their ‘suggestive’ bodies and dress. As long as men kept quiet and kept it in their head, it was accepted as natural man stuff. Perhaps it would be called a white sin, if indeed a sin at all.

    These teachings were as common as a box of cold cereal on a kitchen table at breakfast. It was a given that one simply make allowances for these simple, harmless nuances.

    It is the epitome of evil, realizing now how abusers can weld such abuse under disguise of normal manhood, as if this is how God made them.

  8. Seeing Clearly

    Barbara, thanks off the update on progress in Victoria, Australia. I find it amazing that a focus and priority is placed on researching and publishing such pertinent information. It is a necessary first step, in order to target and invest resources in making a difference (over simplified statement for the phenomenal energies focused on DV). Yeh!

  9. Seeing Clearly

    Response to W’s statement of a readiness to go and be with God.

    I am so in agreement that when God states that my life on earth is complete, I gladly go home.

    A large piece of this statement is that I have made all end of life preparations so that my children will navigate easily through this period in their lives.

    Every women who has been, or is presently in, a DV situation needs to take time to declare their wishes in this important issue.

    1) we all need a medical power of attorney. Forms are free, perhaps, at your medical institution.. At least fill out the part, stating your desires for decisions in the event of a medical crisis.

    2) we all need a will, even if it is, at least, a simple piece of paper filled out and notorized at your local bank. Just take your will (simply written) and a proof of identification. A bank employee can put a seal of notification on your will. Tell one person in your life where this document is when you get home or keep it in your Bible for someone to find. [Note from Eds, we are not sure whether this advice about wills applies in all countries. And in the US laws about wills vary from state to state.]

    I have made more specific designations as I am living in a safe environment, enabling a more thorough and focused preparation. (This was impossible, nearly, while in my marriage.) My daughter is designated as my Durable Power of Attorney. We have talked in detail about my end of life desires. These conversations make it easier for children who have experienced abuse and confusion as children of DV. I have provided for her criteria for my end of life decisions. Bottom line: I have lived a very long and difficult life. I do not wish to live a day longer than required on this earth. So no heroic or life extending procedure.

    Please, dear ones, as you are able, get your paperwork done at whatever level you are able. And that will be good enough for today. You can then return to it and build on it, little by little.

  10. Finding Answers

    Interesting to note: When I watched the videos, I picked up on all the points made in the original post and the comments generated. 🙂

    Personally, I found the interviewer interrupted a few too many times, not allowing the interviewee sufficient time to provide a thought-out / thoughtful answer. Almost like putting words in the interviewee’s mouth….

    Fiona Doherty:

    It is the emotional/psychological abuse which is the most damaging to women, and they’re the hardest to prove.


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