What happens when domestic violence/child abusers/??? see references to themselves?

Let’s say I beat my wife.

On one of the occasions where I’m not knocking her around the living room, we happen to be watching TV. And then an ad for the local safe house comes on the TV. Do I use that as a moment to reinforce how I’d kill her if she left me? Or do I quietly distract her hoping she doesn’t memorize the phone number?

What do people do when confronted with negative portrayals of their own actions in daily life?

Standing around the coffee machine at work and a story of child abuse gets started with every other person there talking about how they would slowly castrate the person…but said in front of someone who beat their kid the night before.

What do they do? Have you witnessed this?

Do people like that typically have friends who reinforce it? Say wife-beaters only hang out with other wife beaters and they all form a mini support group for their actions. y’know, like “Yeah Bob, my wife does the same thing. Pisses me off so much I just gotta XYZ…”

Or is denial not just a river in Egypt?


From personal experience…

They don’t necessarily see it while they’re doing it. They don’t necessarily realize it’s abuse. But subconsciously, I think most of them do – unless they’re very severely mentally ill.

After years of moderate to severe physical abuse, I informed my abuser – my mother – that I’d had enough. I was about sixteen or seventeen. I told her that I was going to report her to CPS and tell them all she’d done. I’d tell my father, too – he’d been out of the country for her abuse and had no idea, as far as I have ever been able to tell.

First she tried to tell me nobody would believe me. I said I’d still tell them.

She said she’d beat the snot out of me if I did. I just sat there.

She said a lot of things – this was while she was driving me to school. I just calmly stated that I was going to tell someone in authority and that I would then move out.

She began to plead with me by the time we were reaching the school. My father would lose his job and his pension (true – this can happen to people in the military. He could have been dishonorably discharged, which seems a bit unfair to me, but there you go). They would be thrown out on the streets with nothing. Did I want to do that to them? Did I want them to starve and be homeless?

Frankly, at that point I didn’t care. I just didn’t speak.

She pled with me all the while we finished the drive, and I didn’t say anything. Just got out of the car and went to school and let her stew about it all day long.

She never raised her hand to me again. This is at least partly because she realized at that point she seriously needed help, but I think she never would have otherwise. She had a mental disconnect, I think, between what she did and what she knew was abuse.

She realizes it now. She’s made her apologies, and while the words needed to be said, they weren’t enough. Her actions are speaking for her now, and she’s getting better. She actually apologizes if she’s irrational or verbally abusive, which believe me, is a big step for her.

Little Plastic Ninja, that’s an amazing story. You should definitely expand on it- it’d be a fascinating read.

I worked with a lot of battered women (yes, they were all women) when I was with legal aid, helping them get DV protection orders. I had some dealings with their abusers, too; I suspect most were in denial to one degree or another, and wouldn’t have any particular reaction to anti-DV ads. There were always (lame and ludicrous) excuses they could tell themselves: “She made me do it… She knows I hate it when she does XYZ… I just lost my temper; it won’t happen again… She knows I love her, but sometimes… I didn’t hit her that hard…” etc. ad nauseam.

What does the do when a PSA or movie of the week come on TV? He/she makes a joke and takesw another swig. Everybody else these is, as usual, relieved the abuser is in a relaxed state, so they hope the PSA or movie won’t set him/her off. God help them if they comment on the similarities to their own situation: that will set the abuser off since, in his or her case, the abuse is a perfectly understandable response to what rotten kids/wife/husband he or she has to live with.

I saw it so many times I could fucking set it to music.

From the spouse and child abusers I’ve encountered in my work, I’ve gotten the impresion that the denial is not that their actions fit what society defines as abuse. They seem to know perfectly well that what they are doing is not socially acceptable - that’s why they frequently try to hide it or deny it. Some ( in my experience, more often a parent than a spouse) let what I think is the truth out- they believe they have every right to behave in this way. What they seem to deny is that the victims have any rights and that government and society should take any action to stop the abuse.