(Update: All the posts of this series have been collected into one piece, Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.)
(This is the next [and final] post in my series, 7 Reasons Women Stay in Bad Relationships. I have collected all my posts in this series into a 41-page document, entitled: “Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships (and How To Defeat Each One of Them),” and made it available here on Scribd.com for free downloading and/or online reading.)
A man who abuses his wife or girlfriend doesn’t have the same kind of relationship with the truth that normal people do. For him, the truth is entirely conditional. This rare quality is what renders the abusive man so confounding, so dangerous. No matter how messed up they seem to be, most people, at some point, come down to a truth that for them is a constant. Something for them, which is organic to them, is always true for them. You never betray your family. You don’t take what isn’t yours. You never hit a woman. Whatever it might be for any given person, for them it’s a constant. It’s a steady, inviolate part of their consciousness and behavior.
An abusive man has no consistent or immutable truth within him, because his entire life is a lie. He is a lie. When he goes out in the world, he does not go out as a man who beats his wife. He goes out as a man who shares the values and morals of all the men out in the world who don’t beat their wives. He is pretending to be someone he isn’t. He is pretending to care about things he doesn’t. He is pretending to believe in things he doesn’t. He is pretending to have nothing in particular to be profoundly ashamed of.
He is a lying. Not a little. Not about a particular aspect of who he is. He is lying, all the time, about the entirely of his life and character. And he needs you to be complicit in that lie. You are the nearby needle he needs to not pop his balloon, the stage manager (and co-star) who makes his play possible. He depends upon your shame at being with the kind of man he is to stop you from publicly acknowledging that you are, in fact, with a man like him.
Saying that a man’s relationship with the truth is grounded in nothing isn’t at all the same thing as saying that man’s feelings, when aroused, are not fully felt and utterly sincere. Part of what keeps a woman in a relationship with an abusive man is how deeply he clearly feels it when he is in the throes of his remorse. He really means he’ll never hit you again. His tears are real. He is profoundly, terribly, painfully sorry for what he has done.
For as long as that mood lasts, that is. Which, if you’re in an abusive relationship, you know is usually distressingly soon after you make it clear to him that you forgive him. That’s usually all an abusive man needs to start seeing green lights again. Your forgiveness is all he needs to know you’ll take more. Then it’s just a matter of time before he gives it to you again.
But yes, when the abusive man feels his regret, he feels it with all the passion and conviction that anyone ever feels such a thing. But he feels it in the only way he can—which, because he is broken, means in such a way that it cannot stick. It doesn’t go that deep; in doesn’t sink that far in. It can’t. That’s what makes the abusive man such a freak.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, what you must never, ever forget about your man is that he lies to you every time he looks at you. His whole life is a lie to you, himself, and everyone else in the world. An abusive man who is being charming or cute or funny or sentimental or sorry is like one of those wax hamburgers that restaurants use to illustrate their menus. They have virtually everything going for them—except that they aren’t hamburgers. They’re pretend hamburgers. They’re pretend delicious. They’re pretend nutritious. They have no more relationship to real food than a mannequin has to real people.
When it comes to your abusive man, ignore what your eyes, ears, mind, and even heart tell you about him. You can believe nothing about him. It’s like a nightmare: the best, surest, and quickest way to make one end is to simply open your eyes.