This week on the Shrink4Men Forum, members began a thread titled, The Covert Abuse Handbook. In the thread, forum members share their experiences of abuse and the abuse they have witnessed beloved brothers, sons and friends suffer. Abusive personalities typically follow similar patterns of behavior. Men and women who frequent Shrink4Men often remark upon how alike each other’s experiences of female perpetrated abuse are.
Recently, more and more information is becoming available on male victims of abuse. Despite what most feminist domestic violence and gender ideologues claim, men are victims of intimate partner violence at comparable rates to women.
The first “how-to” is written by “S.A.” (the comments in bold and italics are written by me — Dr T — apologies for my editorial liberties, S. A.) and documents the subtle and insidious behaviors he experienced in his relationship with an abusive ex-girlfriend. He is writing in the voice of the female abuser (in case it isn’t obvious).
Building the Perfect Mousetrap!
1. Keep your Mask on at All Times. When you first meet your new victim, tell him what a great guy he is. Tell him you admire his accomplishments. Bring out your fake self-confidence. Show him you are a resposible, rational, hard-working adult woman.
2. Damsels in Distress are Hawt! Once you secure a relationship with your new victim, drag your ex-boyfriend through the mud. Tell the new guy all the horrible things your ex did to you. Don’t forget to tell your new victim that you stayed with your ex for so long because you “will do anything to make a relationship work, even if it meant wearing a frog costume for role play sex.” Use those exact words.
This will activate his rescuer/fixer impulses and make him feel like you “need” him. Be sure to continue telling him how great he is using phrases like “soul mate” and “meant to be.” Love bomb! Love bomb!
3. Sex Bomb! Have sex with him ALL THE TIME. There is no better way to make a guy rationalize away the occasional slip-up or deviation from the plan than very frequent sex. In fact, tell him that you have a high sex drive and 2 times a day, every day, is how much you want it and that your ex-boyfriend couldn’t keep up with you. Also tell him that you’re fully aware that men have sexual needs and you will ALWAYS see that they are fulfilled.
This is probably the most important step in cementing his connection with you, so do it every chance you get. Never forget: SEX IS A TOOL FOR CONTROL. Do NOT enjoy it too much, just pretend to enjoy it. You dont want to get attatched to sex with him because it will be phased out in a later step. You don’t want to jeopardize the most powerful tool of manipulation and control.
4. Rinse, Wash, Repeat and Put Him on a Long Silken Leash. Keep up steps 1, 2 and 3 for 3-4 months — depending on your victim’s level of co-dependency and the degree of dirty of sex you’re willing to have with him. Let him have some freedom to see his friends and pursue his hobbies, but don’t give him too much. If you were succesful in steps 1, 2 and 3, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem because he has probably started to think he loves “you” (or rather the false you) by now and won’t want to leave your side too often.
5. Let the Shit Tests Begin! This is where all your hard work and porn star sex will start to pay off. At this point, your new victim/boyfriend will probably be missing his friends because he hasn’t left your side for 2-3 months. This step has multiple parts:
a) Let him go have some guy time. DO tell him to have fun and that he deserves it. DON’T let him know that this will be a test of how attatched he is and how much shit he will take. This is a crucial test in preparation for the subsequent steps for control and manipulation.
b) While he is out with his friends, casually send him friendly, flirty, sexy texts. Watch for ANYTHING you can exploit, e.g., not returning a text fast enough, anything that could remotely mean that there is other women in his presence, etc. Also watch the clock to see if he gets back at the time he said he would. If he is more than a half hour late it gives you leverage — even if he called to let you know he would be late.
c) Once you “catch” him on something, call him out on it. Exaggerate what he did because it probably wasn’t bad enough to deserve what youre going to throw at him. Put him on the defensive in a way that he feels he must prove himself worthy to you.
d) Get mad at him in a text, on the phone or in person. Tell him you “don’t need this shit again,” (using a very subtle reference to your horrible ex-boyfriend — don’t worry, he’ll catch it). Then threaten to break up with him. Say something like ,”I don’t think I’m ready to be hurt again.” (Never forget that damsels in distress are hawt!)
e) If he agrees that you’re not good together and wants to break up, then you either didn’t use steps 1, 2 and 3 well enough or you need to find a new victim because this one is not codependent enough and is unlikely to play along with your script and shit tests.
f) If he says “No, I’m sorry. I really want to work things out,” congatulations! Now you can berate him for a few minutes until you feel he has apologized enough, and then have sex with him. This is key. You want him to link Compliance with Sex. Don’t worry this will be phased out later as well, leaving only compliance!
6. Escalate Shit Tests and Commence Blame Shifting and Gaslighting (Squee! Squee!) Now is when your hard work really starts to pay off. Repeat step 5 for anything he does that you don’t like. There will probably be quite a few things you don’t like about him because everything you don’t like about yourself will be projected onto him. Just remember the simple formula: Compliance = Sex.
If he doesn’t do what you want, when you want, without question, get mad at him and blame him for making you unhappy and any other problem you can think of. For good measure, bring up past times he made you unhappy (this is also an excellent way to deflect and distract from your behavior because it keeps him playing defense).
Be sure to exaggerate what he did. If he points out that you said or did the same thing to him, tell him it never happened or you never said it. Another technique is saying, “It’s ok because Im a girl” (this is a variation of the old IDWIDI defense – “It’s different when I do it” – employing double standards is an immature, abusive woman’s prerogative!) Don’t worry, his rescuer/fixer impulses will divert all the blame from you to him for now.
7. The Carrot and the Whip. At the 5 month mark, bring up a couple past relationships. Tell him they only lasted 6 months (*it doesn’t have to be true). Pretend to engage in self-reflection and say 6 months is the time that you usually realize you’re not into a guy anymore or that he started to annoy you or make you mad. To intensify the mindf*ck, tell him that 6 months is also when you really learn to trust a guy and love him. This will keep him on his toes and ensure he takes care of your every want and need. It will also scare him into thinking you might leave him and he probably doesn’t want to lose the daily hot sex.
8. Put the Lid on the Cookie Jar Half-Way. After the six-month mark, reduce the sex to 3 times a week and tone it down a little. This is an “acceptable” and “normal” amount of sex for a “healthy” relationship. This will make him feel like the relationship is stabilizing and that this is how it will be for the duration. Continue the occasional rant along with the daily maintenance abuse like minor silent treatments, sarcasm, eye rolling and once every couple days, shrug off his attempts at affection to prepare him for the next phase.
9. Seal the Deal! Your main goal right now should be to move in with him. To ensure he is firmly and willingly under your control, tell him things he can do to make you happy (*they don’t have to be true). If done correctly, it will foster the false belief that as soon as he figures you out and proves his loyalty and devotion, you will be happy and the occasional rants and maintenance abuse will stop.
You want him to think your happiness is completely within his power to achieve and the reason you get mad sometimes is because of something he did. Tell him that moving in with him would make you feel happy and secure while simultaneously claiming you’re nervous and apprehensive because you’ve been left homeless in the past, thereby reminding him of your ex-boyfriends and giving his fixer/rescuer impulses man tingles.
This step should get you the key to his place within the next few months or weeks depending on your closing skills. If he starts to come to his senses too quickly after you move in, crank the FOG machine (fear – obligation – guilt) and say things like, “I knew this was gonna happen, I always get screwed over” and “I should never have moved in with you” and “Why didnt you tell me this before I moved in?”
10. Pee on his Territory. Once move in day arrives, assert your dominance and make him feel like a guest in his own home. If anything needs to be gotten rid of due to lack of space like furniture, appliances, bedding, etc., make sure he gets rid of HIS things. Tell him that there’s just not enough room for both your furniture and that your items are nicer. If he says he doesn’t want to get rid of something, throw a tantrum and tell him he isn’t committed to the relationship because he wants to keep HIS things and make you get rid of yours (i.e., play the victim).
Making him get rid of HIS things serves 2 purposes:
- If he is using your furniture, appliances, etc., you can guilt and berate him for not using them “properly,” breaking them, eating on the couch, etc., which gives you more control over him. Remember, everything he does is potential fodder for your grievance/hoop jumping list.
- If at some point he wants to escape you, he will have none of his own furniture, appliances, etc., which will make his escape more difficult.
11. Isolate, Isolate, Isolate! Cut off his support system. Now that you’re moved in, it’s time to prepare for the next phase. If your victim tries to see his friends or family, repeat step 6. You don’t want him mentioning your behavior to his friends and family and have him find out that it’s abuse. When he makes plans with his friends either get mad at him, use the silent treatment or guilt him by saying he cares about his friends more than you and wants to spend more time with them than with you. Alternatively, you could let him leave the house and then berate him using texts or phone calls while he is with his friends.
Using this tactic a few times will cause him to equate seeing his friends to doing something wrong and hurting you, which causes stress and anxiety for him. If he does see his friends, make sure you berate and guilt him the next day as well. Accuse him of hitting on women or going to the strip club behind your back. When he reminds you that he promised you he wouldn’t go to the strip club, deny that he ever made that promise.
If these tactics don’t work, turn him against his friends by telling him they treated you badly or said something about him behind his back (*this doesn’t have to be true). This will ensure that he only tries to see his friends once a month at most and when that happens just use standard maintenance abuse.
12. Crank the Dial on the FOG Machine. Once you’re moved in and your previous apartment or house is sold or no longer available, ramp up the FOG. Now that you have him under control and it is exponentially harder for him to break up with you or leave you since you live in his house, you can basically do anything you want. Par-tay!
Quit your job and either find a lazy part-time job or just don’t work at all. Don’t do any house work. The house might get cluttered, but he will eventually clean it for you. All you need to do is tell him you are going to clean it and he will believe you.
If he hasn’t said he loves you yet, use step 6 until he does. Once he does, tell him you love him every day, and drop him a few compliments here and there like, “You’re so handsome” and “You’re such a good boyfriend” (yes, even if you don’t mean it!)
13. Put the Cookie Jar Away and Only Break Out in Case of Emergency. At long last, it’s time to cut off the sex. Only have sex when you feel like it. (1-2 times per month) or if he starts making noises about breaking up (i.e., Hoover). If he asks you or tries to initiate sex, shut him down, sarcastcally if need be. Your victim needs to learn that you only have sex when YOU want to have sex. Remember, he is only there to fulfill YOUR needs. His needs are unimportant.
14. CONTROL. Tell your victim you love him and give him compliments on a regular basis. This keeps him off balance and he will attempt to rationalize your manipulation and control because you have him believing what you say instead of what you do.
After a couple months of little to no sex, he will try really hard to initiate. This is what you want. Shut down all of his advances. If he tries to touch you in a sexual way, kiss you or compliment you in a sexual way, etc., shrug him off and sarcastically call him a name like pervert or dick.
Meanwhile, make him believe you want to have sex 1-2 times per week. Touch him and tell him to touch you in a sexual way (fully clothed) and tell him things like; “I can’t wait till later when we can have sex” and “I’m gonna give you a workout later. I cant wait.” Later, when he thinks you will be having sex, make an excuse like you have a migraine, cramps, your IUD is bothering you (*this doesn’t have to be true) or, better yet, fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 before he has a chance to make any advances.
After doing this a few times he will get frustrated and possibly irritated that you keep arousing him without following through. Use this against him by telling him all he wants you for is sex (i.e., play the victim and pathologize his healthy sex drive). When you do actually want sex, if he says no for whatever reason (e.g., sickness, work) sarcastically tell him, “Remember this the next time YOU want to have sex.” He needs to remember that you get what you want when you want or there is hell to pay.
Eventually he will ask why you don’t want to have sex anymore. Make up an excuse such as, “I’m just in that cuddly phase of the relationship” or “We had sex so much at first, I think we wore it out” or the best one, “Because you aren’t trying hard enough.”
Periodically, stop all abuse for 2-3 days and, if you feel like it, have sex with him once during this time. This gets him to let his guard down and forget about the abuse from just a few days ago. It also keeps him longing for “the way it used to be.” This serves to blindside him again and drive him even deeper into the FOG.
When you’re in bed, don’t let him touch you in a sexual way. In fact, if he tries to put his hand on your waist or hip, and get close you you, casually brush it off and scoot away from him, but make sure you are still in the middle of the bed and he is shoved up against the wall. This demoralizes him and makes him feel unatractive and unwanted. If his own girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex with him and treats him like he is disgusting, he will NEVER have the self-esteem and self-confidence to leave you for another woman. Even though you know that, you should still accuse him of looking at and flirting with other women.
15. Instill a Sense of Learned Helplessness. If your victim starts to catch on to your manipulation or wants to discuss your behavior, shut him down mid-sentence and say something like “Relationships are work, if you don’t think I’m worth it just tell me” and end the conversation. Do this every time he tries to criticize you.
Effectively, this will train him not to question your behavior and, as an added bonus, you can later tell him he doesn’t communicate well because he holds all of his feelings inside. In case of emergency, threaten to break up with him. This works in all but the most extreme cases especially if he has fears of failure or abandonment.
16. HOOVER! Because You Suck. If all else fails and you think he is going to leave, act arrogant and tell him you will be fine without him. If he actually says the words, “I want to break up” or something similar, start sobbing IMMEDIATELY. Use every tactic described above. If crying doesn’t work, call him names like “immature little boy” and bring up hurtful things from his past. For example, “You deserve a woman like your ex-wife who will sleep around and cheat on you.”
Alternate between sobbing, name-calling and belittling him. If that doesn’t work and he leaves, text him the next day. Try to sound as self-aware and remorseful as possible, but don’t actually take any blame for anything. If you do you will lose control. If need be, peruse some pop-psychology self-help books and use phrases like “change and grow” or “open the lines of communication” and “find a way back to each other.”
If this works and he comes back, repeat step 3 for a few days to 2 weeks until he is comfortable again, and then you can resume the abuse.
If not, then ask if you can still be friends and use the word “closure” a lot. That way if you need a drama fix, you have him on speed dial.
If he will not answer your calls or return your texts, take heart in the fact that the damage you caused will take months or even YEARS to fix, and that when he does meet a nice sincere woman, it will take a long time for her to convince him she is sincere and earn his trust.
How many of you have experienced something similar in your relationships? Did you abusive partner or ex use a different approach? Please post it here.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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