Why is it so Difficult to Talk to Your Abusive Husband?

Attempting to have a conversation with an abusive husband can be incredibly painful.

What kind of heart does a man have who verbally berates his wife, or is dismissive of her or discounts her feelings?

When there is an on-going pattern of problematic communication, it is important to consider a few factors.

  • Are most of the conversations problematic?
  • Does it appear to always favor the husband’s position? 
  • Is the wife ever able to express her concerns and feel heard without subsequent punishment?
  • Does the husband ever express remorse and offer a change plan?

If conversations are fraught with blame-shifting, gaslighting, and other manipulative tactics, these patterns should be viewed as a form of coercive control. 

Coercive control can be understood as acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the victim.

Abusive Conversations Viewed as a Form of Violence

Emotional and verbal abuse is a form of violence. Webmd.com states, “Emotional and verbal abuse also includes violence that isn’t directed specifically at people but is used to intimidate, like slamming doors, throwing things, destroying belongings, or harming pets.” 

It is very difficult to feel safe with a husband who berates, denies, or discounts, etc., the concerns shared by a wife trying to make sense of all the confusing and hurtful details she has discovered. When these types of conversations continue, it is not uncommon for the abusive statements to exacerbate. 

Abusive Statements Husbands Say

Some of the most hurtful statements abusive husbands say have to do with how the wife’s trauma is the reason the marriage cannot heal or progress. 

  • It’s always about YOUR trauma.
  • Why am I always being punished by your trauma?
  • I’m not doing that anymore.
  • When are you going to get over this?
  • Your therapy isn’t helping you get past this.

What are you hearing from your husband that shuts down effective communication coupled with compassion for the suffering you experience because of his abuse?

When you are hoping to make sense of what has happened, or when you are just trying to share your pain with him, do you feel like the abuse gets worse? Does he make it sound like everything would be just fine if you would just get past this incessant need to talk about what he did?

The Responsibility of Caring

An abusive man will replace contempt for care and regard as a tactic to divert conversations that require him to look at the truth of what he did. Since abusive men know what they are doing is wrong and hurtful, they will avoid conversations, use anger or other abuse tactics to shut down conversations or make cruel statements about you never getting over it. As though “it” can describe years or decades of infidelity, sexual abuse, and other forms of coercive control.

Abusive men do not lack empathy. It is a affect state they know how to control. Just like all things abusive men do to coerce and control, the offering of compassion and empathy are behavioral decisions based on a desired outcome.

Controlling the Narrative

It is nearly impossible to resolve conflict if one party is going to deflect responsibility for the harm they cause or refuse to admit to the behaviors. If his rationalizes his punitive actions as understandable because of all the things the wife is doing/saying – he is doing so to control his narrative.

These controlling behaviors are meant to keep the narrative (his story) geared to his favor. Since the victim is the one individual who will not align with the story the abuser tells about why he committed such egregious harm, the abuser ramps up the abuse when engaged in discussions with the victim. Imagine how much easier it would be for the abusive man if the victim of his targeted partner abuse© believed the excuses he makes – you know those that have to do with his horrible childhood, or other trauma. 

If you try to share your feelings about your husband’s behavior and are met with eye rolling, mocking statements, angry outbursts that you are attacking him, stonewalling, walking away, throwing or slamming things – these behaviors are narrative controlling behaviors.

Owning the Harm

It is possible to correct abusive thinking and treat all human beings with respect and dignity. What is difficult for those who exercise coercive control is to not have things go their way, or worse be told they are responsible for their behaviors. Abusive men misrepresent their behavior to manipulate, avoid responsibility and pretend they didn’t think it would hurt. These tactics create a false narrative that works to singularly blame victims and excuse the abuse. 

With such an intentional focus on blaming victims, taking responsibility for what was done is going to take a lot of corrected thinking to the point that actual remorse is felt before the abuser owns harm he committed.

Get to Safety

Until your husband is ready to hear you, until your husband will sit with the words you use to describe your experience with him, until his remorse outweighs his need to self-protect, getting yourself to a safe distance away from him is the best way to protect your emotional and physical well-being from the onslaught of his targeted abuse narrative ©.  

Safety looks different for each victim. Some choose to leave, others do not. What you do to protect your mind and heart is yours to determine. Our coaches at Center for Peace can help with this. Planning for safe observational distance can be difficult. We often feel dragged into conversations, only to be ripped apart again and again. If you are struggling with tools to protect yourself, schedule an individual session with one of the team.

Validating Your Story

Telling your story is an important part of restoring dignity and healing. Victims often spend hours analyzing and asking questions about what happened and why he did what he did. This spins around in our minds. If you would like to share your story, please reach out to us. We are preparing a podcast, Honoring Victim Dignity – A Call to Peace, please reach out to us at hello@cenfp.org.  You can have your story read or you may be invited to share in person.

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