Women Who Bully…and the Men Who Take It
There is endless information written on men who are abusive, intimidating or controlling of their partners. There is much less written, however, about women who do the same. Over the years I have worked with many women who fell into this same pattern of rage and control in their relationships with men.
Although the women are fewer in numbers, the wrath they wield is intense, scary and damaging.
More often than not, I have found that men capitulate and duck in response to the violence of women just as I have found women to do the same in response to the violence of men. (Note: Some also respond by returning rage with rage, but that’s a different post). Not surprisingly, capitulating and ducking is no more effective when the men do it than it is when the women do it.
Men and women duck, even though it’s ineffective, because of fear. Women, not unlike men, are scary when they are highly reactive and prone to have fits of rage. The male partners of these women believe there will be hell to pay if they do anything but give the women what they want. Some of these men also try to avoid the women altogether, which only makes things worse. Often, these men do indeed have reason to be fearful. I’ve known several women to become physically violent, take extreme steps to get revenge on their partner or make threats about custody and financial ruin at various times in their relationships. I have no doubt that these women meant what they said. The men had no doubt as well.
Here’s the problem though: ducking and giving in to someone’s demands due to fear, fuels the rage. The more you cower to a bully the more you get bullied. And although you’re not causing that person to bully…you’re not stopping them.
The only effective way to stop violence is to not take it. You don’t accept rage, threats and control by ducking, trying to give them what they want or standing there and taking it, hoping they will stop. You stop it by refusing to stand there and take it.
If your partner becomes physically violent and puts their hands on you in any way, you need to shut down the relationship until your partner gets ongoing treatment for their violence. Call a domestic abuse hotline for resources in your area to deal with physical violence.
If the violence is not physical, then begin to draw the line on the most egregious behaviors first: screaming, yelling, name-calling, swearing and any verbal assaults. EVERY time your partner begins to rage or call names clearly state: “Stop yelling at me! I will not be talked to like that. Until you can talk respectfully, I will not have this conversation.” If they continue to rage, leave the room. If they follow you, leave the house. If they block you, be willing to call the police. (Note: Do NOT do this if there has been physical violence in the recent past or if you believe it will become physically violent.).
The only chance for you to have a healthy, rewarding relationship is to stop the rage. Although you cannot make your partner stop raging, you most certainly can stop yourself from standing there and taking it. The only way to stop a bully is to not take the bullying. Draw the line with your words and actions. Doing anything else, will leave you with a toxic relationship that will chip away at you piece by piece.
CHALLENGE: If you’ve been accepting rage, be determined to stop it: draw the line. Never accept name-calling, yelling, swearing, etc. from anyone—least of all your partner. Tell them to stop in a firm, centered voice and leave the area if they refuse to stop. Do this EVERY time.