The effects of the incident last much longer for the abused woman, of course, and pretty soon the abuser may be snapping at her: “What, aren’t you over that yet? Don’t dwell on it, for crying out loud. Let’s put it behind us and move forward.” His attitude is: “I’m over it, so why isn’t she?”
Genuine remorse and theatricality are not mutually exclusive. Most abusers are truly sorry - though perhaps largely for themselves…
Remorse usually tends to decline as abusive incidents pile up. The genuine aspect fades as the abusive man grows accustomed to acting abusively and tuning out his partner’s hurt feelings. The theatrical part fades as he becomes less concerned about losing the relationship, confident now that she is fully under his control and won’t leave him.
The salient point about remorse, however, is that it matters little whether it is genuine or not. [Abusive men in an abuser program] who get very sorry after acts of abuse change at about the same rate as the ones who don’t. The most regretful are sometimes the most self-centered, lamenting about all the injury they’ve done to their own self image. They feel ashamed of having behaved like cruel dictators and want to revert quickly to the role of benign dictators, as if that somehow makes them much better people."
Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (via seebster)
Bancroft = always repost.
I see people point out how “more likely to cheat” is a harmful trope used against bisexual people, especially bi women, but I don’t think many realize to which extent it is harmful.
I know it’s 2014 and at least part of the time we’re under illusion the society is oh-so-much progressive, but truth is, domestic violence rates are still sky-high and just an accusation of cheating can be a death sentence to a woman. I don’t think you realize just how many cases of batterings start with a man angrily storming in the apartment and screaming “did you cheat on me?!”
Spreading the idea that just by being bisexual you must be a cheater is not an issue of your old conservative neighbors gossiping about you. For a woman, it can take a life.
And there’s the victim blaming that goes along with this, I’m sorry but whether you are “stereotypically bi” or a cheater there is no decent reason to kill or injure someone over this, the fact it is used to explain away survivors of such abuse and their deaths is sickening.
As an abuse victim, this is true. My partner wouldn’t let me be friends with anyone, male or female, even with me not wanting a man. She’d throw me against a wall and demand to check that I hadn’t cheated.
I’ve heard from other women who aren’t straight and have been abused that this is even more common. This phrase can hurt. A lot. Abusers are insecure, and if they know their partner is bi, and then hear that phrase? It could set them off.
I appreciate these two humans for pointing this out. If someone is abusing you, please talk to me. I want to help. I will not allow you to be a statistic.
My ex was bi herself and she thought I was untrustworthy for being bi. She was extremely jealous and possessive whether I was hanging out with men or women. She was always convinced I was cheating on her and would refuse to speak for me for days if she had even a suspicion.
Seeing the statistics on how many bi people are victims of abuse is just sickening and downright terrifying. And like a-little-bi-furious said, we’re often subject to victim blaming on top of that.
jfc that’s awful, and it also shows how bisexuals can be abusive to other bisexuals using this toxic biphobic rhetoric, as incredible as it sounds the internalisation is so great that it will make convoluted sense to biphobic abusers and coupled with the “good bi vs bad bi” dichotamy it can be a deadly.
In one report of bisexual survivors of IPV that was presented at biREcon this year there was one case study of a bi man and a bi woman. The bi woman said that one of the main reasons for staying with her abusive partner was because they were under pressure to “defeat the stereotype” of bisexual relationships not working out due to lack of commitment.
This pervasive stereotype not just starts and excuses abuse, it also sustains it, even within our own communities
My abuser’s previous relationship was with a woman who left him for a woman. (She actually left him multiple times for the same person, going back and forth between them a few times over the course of a few years.) I could understand why someone might end up with some unrealistic fears after such a situation, but he used this history as an excuse for biphobia, lesbophobia, and paranoid, controlling behavior toward me (supposedly out of fear that I would cheat). Most of the time I learned not to voice my attraction to women and my feelings got buried so deep that I lost sight of them myself. At the same time, when my history of girl-crushes and ambiguous friendships would come up, he would react in a creepy way, viewing this information as titillating in a manner that repulsed me, which of course also caused me to bury my feelings. Little surprise, then, that I didn’t come to terms with my bisexuality until after this abusive relationship had ended, at the relatively late age of 29.
So, my previous post listed some books on partner abuse and trauma that I give my highest recommendation to. Next up, brief reviews of some other books in this area that range from not very useful to well worth reading, at least in part. I hope they’ll be of use not only as potential recommendations but also to help folks decide whether these books are worth their time and/or money.
A Safe Place For Women by Kelly White - The author helped to establish the main DV shelter / rape crisis center here in Austin, Safe Place. This book is kind of all over the place. It’s part memoir, part DV overview, and part discussion of issues involved in running a DV shelter. For folks who do nonprofit work, are interested in the issues around shelter administration, etc. but who maybe don’t have a solid understanding of DV as an issue, it’d be a great resource. But for others, I’d recommend skipping around. Kelly White’s story and the shorter stories of other survivors that she shares are really affecting. She’s less effective when she’s doing an academic overview of how DV works. And when she writes about running a shelter, it’s less engaging than the personal story but still interesting up to a point.
Coping With Trauma: Hope Through Understanding by Jon G. Allen - This book is supposed to be geared toward a general audience but has a lot of clinical content, so it ends up being the worst of both worlds in a way—not being that accessible to the average reader but overexplaining a lot of things from the point of view of a mental health professional. The writing style isn’t very engaging as a result. It has some good aspects, though. Allen discusses the way trauma impacts the attachment system in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere. The best thing about this book is that it introduced me to the concept of impersonal vs. interpersonal trauma (e.g. being traumatized by a natural disaster vs. because you were abused by a significant other) and how that changes the impact of trauma and the way people recover from it.
I Can’t Get Over It: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors by Aphrodite Matsakis - I always feel like I should spend more time with this book, but I have a hard time doing so. It’s a good overview of established ideas and practices related to trauma, but it’s a bit dry and dense so by the time I get through all the overview stuff I run out of steam before I get to the actual strategies for dealing with trauma part (this has happened multiple times when I’ve tried to revisit the book). Overall I have found it a good resource but I wouldn’t recommend reading it from start to finish unless you’ve got a long attention span and quite a bit of time on your hands. I’d focus on part 2, where she discusses healing from trauma, and the “specific traumas” chapters that apply to your own (or a client’s or loved one’s) situation. I plan to follow my own advice with this one soon and see if I get more out of it when I approach it in this way.
The Battered Woman by Lenore E. Walker - This book is a bit outdated, as you can probably guess from the title, but was pioneering when it first came out in the late 70s. Walker did a qualitative study in which she interviewed DV survivors and their stories are one of the best things about the book, although the focus on extreme cases of intense battering could give some people a skewed understanding of the dynamics of abuse. In this book, Walker first puts forth the idea that learned helplessness (which had previously only been discussed in animal research) could apply to women in DV contexts. It’s an idea that is still being debated but I find it worth considering, plus it resonates with my DV experience personally. That said, subsequent authors probably do a better job of covering that theory and putting it in context with other ideas.
When Men Batter Women: New Insights into Ending Abusive Relationships by Neil Jacobson and John Gottman - Also a bit dated despite not being terribly old (it came out in 1998, just four years before Why Does He Do That?). Jacobson and Gottman originated the idea of dividing abusers into “pit bulls” and “cobras,” which I’ve encountered in a few places. The idea is that some abusers (“pit bulls”) are highly insecure, overdependent, and prone to lashing out but may be able to change with therapy while others (“cobras”) are colder and more sadistic and less responsive to treatment. It’s an interesting theory but it hasn’t been very useful to me. This is the only real “new insight” I found in this book so I didn’t find the book very helpful overall.
It Could Happen To Anyone: Why Battered Women Stay by Alyce D. LaViolette and Ola W. Barnett - This is a short book with a long appendix, making the actual text quite brief, but the book includes some good information. It’s a bit on the clinical / research-y side so it could be a poor fit for some survivors who are looking for help, but it’s a good overview of what we know about the forces that tend to keep women in abusive relationships (covering not only threats to safety but also societal and psychological factors) as well as catalysts that often help women to leave. The authors go over all of the research in a systematic way, even if the jury is out on a given theory. Good discussion of things like traumatic bonding and learned helplessness here—in other words, psychological factors that can be hard to understand in the aftermath of abuse. I found this aspect of the book helpful personally because the more I learn about such things the better I get at forgiving myself for staying with my abuser for as long as I did. That said, it’s short and a bit dry so I wish there was a better resource that focused on harnessing these ideas to help survivors with healing and self-compassion (vs. focusing on a technical overview for social science types). If you look this book up on amazon, goodreads, etc. be forewarned that one of the authors was an expert witness on a high-profile murder trial so there’s an army of disgruntled people giving her books negative reviews even though they haven’t read them.
That about covers my big pile of books relating to DV and books about trauma in general. As you can see, it’s a really mixed bag, but most have at least something useful to contribute.
I’m on an IPV (intimate partner violence) survivors’ discussion board on another site with a small group of other abuse survivors, a little community has meant a lot to me in the last few years. But sometimes I write stuff there that I would like to share with a wider audience. We’ve been sharing book recommendations related to abuse and to trauma more generally, so I thought I’d share that post here as well, with a few small changes. This list is geared primarily toward other survivors but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend all of these books to others who want to learn more about IPV.
I have to mention Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft even though I already posted a glowing review of it on tumblr recently. It’s just so great and so helpful. Every time I see it at the used bookstore I’m tempted to buy another copy so I’ll have one to hand out the next time I meet a woman who’s questioning whether what she is going through / went through is/was abuse. It’s the book that helped me come to terms with my abuse and I continue to go back to it again and again and habitually loan it out to friends.
Another book I found really interesting and useful is Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery. She goes through the history of our understanding (and lack of understanding) of trauma in a really great way, unpacks a lot of cultural baggage around trauma, particularly gendered trauma, and then gets into the psychological effects of trauma and a model for how people best recover from it. If you only read part of it, the Captivity chapter is the one that made the biggest impact on me. She draws parallels between the experiences of prisoners of war, victims of kidnapping (such as Patty Hearst), political prisoners, and victims of domestic violence. The dynamics are quite similar across these types of trauma. Something about recognizing my own experiences in descriptions of these other types of trauma (which are generally seen as a lot more legitimate by most people) was really validating for me, and it helped me understand some of the reasons it was so hard for me to see things clearly and get out. But I recommend the whole thing without reservation.
I read Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self by Susan Brison for my qualifying project last year. It’s a little esoteric at times—after all, the author is a philosophy professor—but for the most part I found it really accessible and readable. Brison shows how trauma challenges some of our fundamental notions of what it means to be a person and to have a coherent self and gets at what is so important about being able to tell your story and feel authentically heard in order to recover from trauma. Despite the philosophical aspect, it’s a very personal book (Brison writes about her own recovery from trauma after a brutal rape and attempted murder by a stranger) and I found it really poignant and helpful.
More reviews coming in a bit!
fightingjulia said: Do you know what really bothers me about those people who insist on calling relationships "heterosexual" and "homosexual?" They could literally refer to such relationships as "same gender" and "different gender" and make the same (admittedly gross) points. They are PURPOSEFULLY erasing bpq people and ignoring those of us who don't feel comfortable having our relationships labelled as "gay" and "straight."
This^^ What made me really uncomfortable about that anon was that their justification for doing that is “it harms bpq people not in nor will ever have those relationships” and all I can say is:
(1) Is anon a bpq person? Have they been in these relationships? If not stfu anon, we get it you don’t care about bisexuals who don’t feel comfortable IDing that way, don’t try to say you have our backs when you pick and choose who to support.
(2) Where are non-binary people in this equation? Technically I’m always in a different gender relationship unless I’m in a relationhip with a non-binary person, but we both know anon isn’t thinking about that, I can smell their gender essentialism from here. That’s why I prefer bisexual relationship as an identifier for all my relationships because I’m bi and it gets those annoying gender issues out of the way, but no please tell me how helpful the straight/gay dichotamy is to all bpq people.
(3) We all know the big reason why everybody gets so upset when bpq people don’t want their relationships labeled as either gay or straight, it draws attention to the fact that perhaps bpq people in relationships think and feel differently from gay and straight people in their respective relationships, that maybe their sexuality is not defined simply by whose hand they are holding at any given time. It fucks with the heteronormative narrative that different gender couples can only be heterosexual ones and it fucks with the narrative that bpq people don’t keep their sexuality when in commited relationships, it also fucks with the notion that bpq people have to “prove” their sexuality by having sex with many different genders in quick succession (pretty much the only established definition of a “bisexual relationship” I’ve heard tbh) which highlights the diversity within bpq communities but fuck that right?
(4) There’s also the clear need to group bpq people into privileged/oppressed dichotamies, which isn’t so easily done because bpq people face unique challenges because of their sexuality no matter what relationship they are in and has more to do with gate-keeping and playing good bi vs bad bi that it does with people being “concerned” for the issues of some bpq people. bpq people see that shit, they know because they are often targeted with that crap by being in or assumed to be in ~het relationships~, this is not a helpful ally thing to do.
Especially feeling #4 today.