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July 13, 2010

Women Who Bully…and the Men Who Take It

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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. 

Comments

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My mum bullies my dad and has done so for the last fifty or so years. She is verbally abusive towards him on a daily basis and has known to be physically violent over the years. The situation has been perceived as "amusing" and my dad accepts it as the norm, but now I'm realizing just how wrong she is to do it. I don't know whether I should bring the subject up or not. My mum is 70 now and I'm nearly sure that she will deny this and that my dad will support her.

I did stop the physical violence after about 12 different attacks. She has not done it again in over a year. I prefer to not write HOW I did it, but it worked.

However, she still threatens, criticizes, blames and fault-finds while whining, moaning, groaning and complaining. I usually comply just to shut her up. Another effective weapon that has been VERY effective for HER is that SHE JUST IGNORES ME. example: when I asked that her ex-husband NOT be invited for Christmas last year (this has been a norm in the past to maintain a civil relationship in the larger family), she just IGNORED me and asked him anyway. I asked several different times and told her why, but she just went ahead and invited him. I told her in no uncertain terms how wrong she had been, but she could not see anything wrong with what she had done.

jlm

I am a man and my partner engages in this kind of bullying and threatening behaviour. If I stand up to her it just ups the ante and pretty soon I am being subjected to swearing and abusive language. Usually the threat of divorce is used. The only effective way to handle the situation is to walk away.

Dear Mike: This is what many men in your situation think and it's not serving them, you or your relationship. When you duck in response to her bullying, you teach her that her bullying is okay. Although it may save you a fight now, it will wreak havoc in the long run.
Lisa

Female bullies are the norm today. Female bullies are deadly and they have the skills and resources with them to get away with it. Female bullies are praised and awarded by society for dishing out abuse. Female bullies premeditate the abuse with intricate workings, like master thiefs, very crafty and covert. The modern females toolbox for bullying is amazing. The more it torments their target the better; the more successful they are. Toxic and poisonous is the new cool.

It's a scary world we live in today. It is a very sad time for humans.

I had a violent abusive wife and the problem I found when i tried to get help was no one wanted to know. They found the idea of a violent woman embarrassing or even offensive and saw me as weak and ridiculous. It was actually men who were understanding. Women were judgmental, (what did you do to make her angry?), embarrassed or even amused.

Only few write about it..but in one way or another women love to be adored and praised..

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