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Female abusers

(56 Posts)
iremembericod Sun 19-Feb-17 10:00:22

I've been the victim of male violence and abuse many times in my life and this is not about saying that doesn't happen. I know that most violence is from men.

What has been made me challenge some of my thinking around the 'male abuser' narrative that I've held for so long (backed up by stats etc) is that yes, females do not abuse like men (with violence) but females abuse in a way that is actually very rarely violating our current laws.

The abuse I have had first hand experience of is the systematic emotional abuse of children and (most often) ex partners. This is berating, manipulating, poisoning, frightening, controlling...everything you read about on the Stately Homes threads. I wonder about the numbers on this because I'm starting to think that the female form of abuse is just as prevalent as the male form of abuse and that has really challenged my world view and although there are some laws, the reality is it is nigh on impossible to get a conviction for emotional abuse.

This abuse is simply not punished by the law and despite it being extremely harmful causing lifelong mental health issues for its victims, there is very little that people can do if they have a family member who is dishing out the female form of abuse.

I'd be really interested to hear what others think, I realise that the argument will go that 2 women a week die at the hands of men in the U.K., and it's not to discount that in any way, I'm just interested that there is this underground, non-punishable form of abuse that is going on by females that might not directly kill people, but certainly lines people up for a difficult life.

DameDeDoubtance Sun 19-Feb-17 10:07:09

but men abuse like that too, it's emotional abuse.

RufusTheSpartacusReindeer Sun 19-Feb-17 10:39:03

I agree with you OP

But dame is quite right

MissHemsworth Sun 19-Feb-17 10:58:49

It's emotional abuse & it can be quite hard to prove, whether it's a man or a woman doing it. It can unfortunately have devastating effects, like as you say lifelong MH problems. I assume that it goes unpunished with just as many men as it does women? I also wonder if men & women who carry out EA are equally likely to be abusive in other areas? Are there even laws against EA? I don't know! Can you divorce somebody on the grounds of EA?

iremembericod Sun 19-Feb-17 12:52:47

I'm interested in how men and women conduct their abuse I guess. My anectodal and personal experience is that men who emotionally abuse underpin it with either the threat of or actual physical violence, but women don't do that and their emotional abuse is something else - I can't quite put it into words!

Social services are not interested in emotional abuse, certainly in this area anyway. They are only looking at physical and sexual abuse / neglect.

LevantineHummus Sun 19-Feb-17 13:15:11

My "D"M was emotionally abusive with threats of physical violence to back it up. It reduced as we got older.

Now it would just be emotional abuse, but she's NC with me because I told her she did things to me that resulted in me being diagnosed with( C)PTSD.

I agree it's very common.

I also think that many people who are emotionally abusive - not all obviously - genuinely have no idea that they are. Police can't be called because someone, for the millionth time, is making you feel like you're crazy and with no visible signs of damage what can they do?

I think it's something that needs to be tackled by awareness campaigns and social work/psychological interventions in the first instance. Police would come much later - if we're looking at eradicating it. Being emotionally abusing isn't actually socially unacceptable, it's just kind of ignored (apart from on here!).

LevantineHummus Sun 19-Feb-17 13:16:01

*abusive

CocoaX Sun 19-Feb-17 14:08:24

Yes there are laws against emotional abuse, cannot link as on phone but if you Google the CPS guidelines on coercive control, there is a law against it with clear guidelines as to what it constitutes. It was enacted December 2015

Emotional blackmail and manipulation is harder to prove and not breaking any laws, you need good boundaries and an ability to walk away.

One of the most damaging people in my life was my mother, so I get what you are saying

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 19-Feb-17 14:53:35

My mother emotionally blackmailed and abused my brother and to a lesser extent my grandfather.

I was the clever girl she wanted . He was the not academically bright boy she didn't want. I am 10 years older than him and left home at 17. He stayed and put up with her manipulation , erratic behaviour and blind rage until she died, with him at her bedside.

iremembericod Sun 19-Feb-17 15:44:12

* also think that many people who are emotionally abusive - not all obviously - genuinely have no idea that they are. Police can't be called because someone, for the millionth time, is making you feel like you're crazy and with no visible signs of damage what can they do?*

This is the crux of it I guess and why this 'invisible' problem continues to flourish.

I put this in feminism because I have been guilty in the past of the 'what about the menz' berating when someone says women abuse too, and I am starting to believe that as a feminist who discusses abuse and violence perpetrated by men, that I should more often acknowledge that females are abusing people in big numbers - they are not directly killing people and that is a big difference, but there are women causing immense harm and it is going largely unpunished.

In my acquaintance / social group I have three friends who, I now recognise, emotionally abuse and manipulate their children e.g. deliberately poisoning relationships with fathers, shout at, belittle and berate their children, make their children emotionally responsible for them, unreasonably control their children's lives. And I know if I were to raise this with any of them, there would be absolute disdain for me by everybody I know. I wonder if this experience is unusual - what is the scale of this problem?

cadnowyllt Sun 19-Feb-17 15:57:42

Can you divorce somebody on the grounds of EA?

Yes, but you refer to it as a type of 'unreasonable behaviour" - if someone is being subjected to emotional abuse, then its unreasonable to expect that person to have to put up with it - and therefore the person believes the marriage has irretrievably broken down

strugglingstepdad Sun 19-Feb-17 16:02:35

Women are also physical abusers.

My ex used to put a knife to my throat.

I'm 6'3" and 18st and she was much smaller. I've been asked before why I didn't do anything physically to stop her, but the fear I felt just used to paralyse me. I'm sure it's the same for a woman being beaten by a man!

picklemepopcorn Sun 19-Feb-17 16:11:41

This is such an important conversation. I don't think it is directly related to the conversation about male abuse of women though. I think it is less gendered, in that the victims are not specially selected in the same way. I'm expressing this badly..,

I also think that many people who are emotionally abusive - not all obviously - genuinely have no idea that they are.

This is the issue. General lack of recognition of EA, so that many people enable it and don't challenge it. The husband who says 'don't upset your mother', for example, or 'Now look what you've done, you've upset your mother!'

These people don't seek out someone to abuse, they just cannot recognise and maintain healthy relationships. If you disagree with my mother, you are 'sharper than a serpent's tooth', and get no end of grief about it. You are an unnatural daughter. It isn't her being oversensitive, oh no.

It is different from male violence against their parteners- though just as damaging,

RebelRogue Sun 19-Feb-17 16:22:46

My mother was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive,brutally so.
She was full of internalised misogyny she never acted like a mother should when i needed her most. Well that's how others explain it. In my eyes..there's no excuse.
She also used to pitch me and my dad against each other depending on whom the offending party was at the time. Always playing the victim,with her tears and headaches and throwing up and shit.

user1487175389 Sun 19-Feb-17 16:25:35

I don't know about now, but certainly growing up, and my M was an expert at both emotional and physical abuse.

My dad, as the enabler, was able enact his gaslight etc in the name of 'keeping the peace'. To this day he won't countenance the idea that she could deliberately set out to hurt someone (usually me,).

There was a lesser level of emotional abuse from many of my female relatives though, and the reason it was so effective was that I had no-one to protect me: 'Auntie Joan said I was ugly.' 'Don't he daft - she loves you to bits. She loves you like a daughter. I'm sure that's not what she meant'. And of course Auntie Joan is sweetness and light, apart from when she's delivering her stinging one liners, out of earshot, with a smile.

CocoaX Sun 19-Feb-17 16:54:49

The CPS guidelines do have direct ways you can evidence coercive control.

As regards female emotional abuse, I wonder if most of it is generational? So a woman who is disempowered herself may feel her children have to be a certain way or conform to certain norms for her and her family to be acceptable. Or the 'safe' outlet for anger and resentment is the children. I don't know, my mother was extremely damaging - both angry and controlling- and I grew up academically achieving and compliant. And went into an abusive marriage. But trying to unpick why she was like that? She had never taken the courage to walk away from her own unhappy marriage and loss of personal potential or sought therapy for her own unhappy childhood.

ChipsForSupper Sun 19-Feb-17 23:28:10

To be perfectly frank, this sounds very close to the "women do it too!" argument used by MRAs to detract from male physical abuse of women. It's another form of derailment which appears to acknowledge male physical violence against women but then diminishes it by arguing that women are still as a bad as men because they "emotionally" abuse. It's also part of the stereotype that women are verbally abusive - spiteful/bitchy etc whereas men use violence but it is provoked by such female wiles.

However, if you do want to discuss women being emotionally abusive, then a good starting point would be to acknowledge that emotional abuse is often present alongside other aggravating factors such as poverty/family breakdown/domestic violence/drug or alcohol abuse for example. Feminism often explores why these factors affect women more often and more disproportionately than they affect men as a result of the power imbalance in our patriarchal society.

RebelRogue Sun 19-Feb-17 23:33:04

I guess it depends on the context on which it is discussed.. mothers being emotionally abusive to children? Partners being emotionally abusive to their partners? Women just being emotionally abusive in general?

No one has said women are as bad as men.

ChipsForSupper Sun 19-Feb-17 23:45:56

I did not say that on this thread posters are literally saying women are as bad as men. I said that the topic being discussed appears to suggest a line of argument in which male physical abuse can be diminished by the hint that women are as bad as men.

sillage Sun 19-Feb-17 23:46:55

Someone did say that,

"I'm starting to think that the female form of abuse is just as prevalent as the male form of abuse"

Nonetheless, I do feel speaking about emotionally and physically abusive mothers has appropriate times and places, and it would be nice to see this thread develop as a sensitive place for such a conversation.

Totally agree about sexist oppression itself being a major aggravating factor.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 19-Feb-17 23:47:24

However, if you do want to discuss women being emotionally abusive, then a good starting point would be to acknowledge that emotional abuse is often present alongside other aggravating factors such as poverty/family breakdown/domestic violence/drug or alcohol abuse for example

I think a good starting point would to acknowledge it happens before you immediately rush to look for excuses and mitigating factors.

RebelRogue Mon 20-Feb-17 00:02:23

Men are abusive physically,emotionally,sexually and financially to both women and children. Sometimes all at once.
Women are killed by men at the rate of two per week.

Abuse by women can take all those forms too(never at the male rate),but some are highly unlikely or rare.All at once even rarer.

So no,women are not as bad as men and will never be.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 20-Feb-17 00:51:02

So no,women are not as bad as men and will never be

And your point is what exactly in a thread specifically about female abusers?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 20-Feb-17 00:52:52

The only person who has ever hit me was a woman. The only people who ever bullied me were female, but never mind. Women are so much nicer than men so it doesn't matter.

LauraBora79 Mon 20-Feb-17 00:57:29

So no,women are not as bad as men and will never be.

I'm not sure. Do you mean that women will never have the capacity to be as bad as men (as in they aren't physically capable of doing the same amount of damage but would if they could) or that they will never even have the same level of malicious intent as men?

If the latter, what would you base that conclusion on? Evolutionary psychology?

It's a tricky one.

I think women can have no less malignant characters than men. They just don't exhibit brutality as much because 1) they lack the power and physical capacity to do so and 2) are socialised to believe they are the kinder, weaker, subordinate sex so that any violent tendencies are supressed.

I used to work in a mixed secondary school and was struck by the difference in how boys and girls bullied. The boys tended to be overtly, physically violent, but girls bullied in a far more covert way - verbal abuse, humiliation, emotional tactics. And I think that's probably true more widely. Even in the rare cases when women physically and sexually abuse it will often take subtler or less demonstrative forms. Just guessing but that would make sense.

However, if you do want to discuss women being emotionally abusive, then a good starting point would be to acknowledge that emotional abuse is often present alongside other aggravating factors such as poverty/family breakdown/domestic violence/drug or alcohol abuse for example

True but you could say the same of male violence. In fact you could say those things potentialy influence any form of criminality or immorality.

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