When the Abuser is a Woman

Abuse is a human issue – a struggle for power and control that pays little mind to gender, race, culture, or age. I believe that female abusers are severely underreported because male targets are particularly reluctant to admit to being abused.

Male targets of abuse might be stereotyped as weak and hen-pecked, but my experience doesn’t support that. Just like female targets, they are selected for traits like honesty, integrity, diligence, and responsibility, making them likely to believe their partner is the same. Male targets are often strong fathers who take their parenting role seriously.

After an initially intense bonding period, filled with frequent sex and confidence building conversations, the female abuser quickly cements the relationship through marriage or pregnancy. She becomes increasingly critical of his performance, both as a family provider and as a sexual partner. He is left with the nagging question, Can I ever do anything right?

Whether she’s a breadwinner or not, she uses money to control him. At first, she might play the role of a financially destitute victim to inspire his caregiving tendency. Once hooked into the relationship, she takes control of the joint funds, and he suddenly has less of a voice in spending. Even if his salary is larger, she instructs him to live on an allowance while she freely spends. She appeals to his work ethic by encouraging him to work hard for family needs, but then siphons off funds for extravagant personal expenses. When he works overtime, she then complains that he doesn’t spend enough time with the family. If he works less overtime, she tells him the family finances are suffering. This cycle of criticism leaves him on the defensive.

The early bond of frequent and satisfying sex is broken when she starts denying sex or pursuing affairs. A typical female abuser is strikingly attractive, appears to have a confident personality, and is skilled at arousing sexual desire. At social events, she needs to be seen as the best dancer or the most talented person in the room. She might be an addict, and if so, she blames her addiction on others, or she blames her irresponsible behavior on her addiction.

She leaves the boredom of responsible life skills to him. Children are useful for her image management (such as photos on social media), but the daily grind of parenting is his responsibility. Without prior consent, she expects him to be caretaker for both her and her extended family. She regularly volunteers his time without checking with him first.

She spends an inordinate amount of time in crisis and needing to find herself. Using her confusion as an excuse, she exploits him by avoiding responsibility and engaging in affairs. She might use the threat of, or existence of, a lesbian affair to both devalue his sexuality and the fidelity of the marriage. She suggests an open marriage to supposedly bring more excitement, but it becomes a means to further degrade his performance. Being a hardworking problem-solver, he increases his efforts to provide for the home and give her sexual attention. This provides the exact result she wants: to be the center of his attention.

He stays in the relationship because the prospect of divorcing seems insurmountable, and he is concerned about fair custody of his kids. He also stays to avoid losing a large share of his personal financial worth. Pressure builds until he reaches a dramatic breaking point where he finally gets in touch with his anger.

She uses his single angry episode to falsely accuse him of domestic violence and file a restraining order. She uses the system designed to protect the vulnerable and instead wields it to destroy his reputation. During the divorce process, she confuses him by luring him back with sexual advances. He is unable to keep his intentions straight, and the courts rule in her favor. She gains a healthy divorce settlement and majority custody of the children. He is marginalized from his children’s lives, and he starts over building his financial and self-worth. He resolves to remain single and never trust a woman again. One friend summarized it well when he simply said, “The one who cared the least, controlled the relationship.”


This post is Copyrighted material from the book Powerful, Beautiful, and Wise . . . A Transformation. Available in Kindle format for ebooks on Amazon.com.






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