Tue | Aug 22, 2017

As a man | the abuser needs the abused

Published:Sunday | September 18, 2016 | 9:00 AMMel Cooke
A roleplay of the sort of abuse suffered by Michael*: We would have an issue and then she would slap me and then walk away.

I hope that the lead story in last week's Sunday Gleaner, about the high rate of men being abused by women in Jamaica, made some impact on how we view adult intimate relationships, especially when they go awry.

Abuse goes both ways, but I believe many women have played upon a general perception that women are always the victims in a relationship.

However, whether it is the man or the woman inflicting the physical or verbal blows, there is a principle in the abusive relationship which I have observed. It is the abuser who needs the abused, not the other way round, as might be expected. Whatever the deep-seated reason that causes someone to abuse their partner, it is a power relationship which they need and will go to great lengths to maintain.

In their perception of the world, abusing their intimate partner is normal, and any disruption in this order sets them out of kilter, disturbs them greatly and creates an intolerable imbalance. Hence the extreme effort to keep the abused under the thumb to keep doing it over and over and over again.

Looking at it this way, the abuser is actually the needy one - maybe not financially, since the house and car and money are often components of the tools of control. And yes, there are persons who seem to treasure their lot in life as the abused. But from what I have seen and been told, the drive to stay in abusive relationships is much stronger in the abuser than the abused.

 

Why do abusers stay?

 

So we need to not only ask why a person who is being abused stays, but why the abuser stays. Think about it. A man or woman who is beating up their partner with words or deeds has the financial wherewithal to leave the space they occupy (or they can kick them out) now. But they don't. Or if it is a visiting relationship, they can choose not to go to see that person. But they don't.

Why? Because they need them.

Unless it is dealt with through counselling, the need will not go away. It is up to prospective partners to determine from very early, the personality which is bearing down on them and disengage themselves - or, even better, not engage at all. Never think they will change. Once an abusive person settles on a victim, they will always see that person as someone they need to satisfy their souls (and maybe the soles of their feet, too).

The potential victim can do nothing about that. All they can do is ensure that they are not the one being abused - by staying far, far away.

There is a thing called human dignity that is very precious. It is why people buy expensive cars and houses and clothing. However, the sense of self-worth cannot be purchased or acquired through kicking the crap out of someone else. It won't stop abusive people from trying, though.

So make darn sure you are not the one they need (or kneed).

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com