Abuser Quotes


In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing.

The abuser’s mood changes are especially perplexing. He can be a different person from day to day, or even from hour to hour. At times he is aggressive and intimidating, his tone harsh, insults spewing from his mouth, ridicule dripping from him like oil from a drum. When he’s in this mode, nothing she says seems to have any impact on him, except to make him even angrier. Her side of the argument counts for nothing in his eyes, and everything is her fault. He twists her words around so that she always ends up on the defensive. As so many partners of my clients have said to me, “I just can’t seem to do anything right.”
At other moments, he sounds wounded and lost, hungering for love and for someone to take care of him. When this side of him emerges, he appears open and ready to heal. He seems to let down his guard, his hard exterior softens, and he may take on the quality of a hurt child, difficult and frustrating but lovable. Looking at him in this deflated state, his partner has trouble imagining that the abuser inside of him will ever be back. The beast that takes him over at other times looks completely unrelated to the tender person she now sees. Sooner or later, though, the shadow comes back over him, as if it had a life of its own. Weeks of peace may go by, but eventually she finds herself under assault once again. Then her head spins with the arduous effort of untangling the many threads of his character, until she begins to wonder whether she is the one whose head isn’t quite right.

The woman knows from living with the abusive man that there are no simple answers. Friends say: “He’s mean.” But she knows many ways in which he has been good to her. Friends say: “He treats you that way because he can get away with it. I would never let someone treat me that way.” But she knows that the times when she puts her foot down the most firmly, he responds by becoming his angriest and most intimidating. When she stands up to him, he makes her pay for it—sooner or later. Friends say: “Leave him.” But she knows it won’t be that easy. He will promise to change. He’ll get friends and relatives to feel sorry for him and pressure her to give him another chance. He’ll get severely depressed, causing her to worry whether he’ll be all right. And, depending on what style of abuser he is, she may know that he will become dangerous when she tries to leave him. She may even be concerned that he will try to take her children away from her, as some abusers do.

The symptoms of abuse are there, and the woman usually sees them: the escalating frequency of put-downs. Early generosity turning more and more to selfishness. Verbal explosions when he is irritated or when he doesn’t get his way. Her grievances constantly turned around on her, so that everything is her own fault. His growing attitude that he knows what is good for her better than she does. And, in many relationships, a mounting sense of fear or intimidation. But the woman also sees that her partner is a human being who can be caring and affectionate at times, and she loves him. She wants to figure out why he gets so upset, so that she can help him break his pattern of ups and downs. She gets drawn into the complexities of his inner world, trying to uncover clues, moving pieces around in an attempt to solve an elaborate puzzle.

One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don’t seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early period of a relationship. An abuser’s friends may think the world of him. He may have a successful work life and have no problems with drugs or alcohol. He may simply not fit anyone’s image of a cruel or intimidating person. So when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.

IN ONE IMPORTANT WAY, an abusive man works like a magician: His tricks largely rely on getting you to look off in the wrong direction, distracting your attention so that you won’t notice where the real action is. He draws you into focusing on the turbulent world of his feelings to keep your eyes turned away from the true cause of his abusiveness, which lies in how he thinks. He leads you into a convoluted maze, making your relationship with him a labyrinth of twists and turns. He wants you to puzzle over him, to try to figure him out, as though he were a wonderful but broken machine for which you need only to find and fix the malfunctioning parts to bring it roaring to its full potential. His desire, though he may not admit it even to himself, is that you wrack your brain in this way so that you won’t notice the patterns and logic of his behavior, the consciousness behind the craziness.

When people conclude that anger causes abuse, they are confusing cause and effect. Ray was not abusive because he was angry; he was angry because he was abusive. Abusers carry attitudes that produce fury.

The more you face the truth, the angrier you will probably become. You have a right to be angry about being sexually abused. You have a right to be angry with the perpetrator, regardless of who it was, how long ago the sexual abuse occurred, or how much he/she has changed.

I have sometimes said to a client: “If you are so in touch with your feelings from your abusive childhood, then you should know what abuse feels like. You should be able to remember how miserable it was to be cut down to nothing, to be put in fear, to be told that the abuse is your own fault. You should be less likely to abuse a woman, not more so, from having been through it.” Once I make this point, he generally stops mentioning his terrible childhood; he only wants to draw attention to it if it’s an excuse to stay the same, not if it’s a reason to change.

From Colin A. Ross, 1995: The writer is the brother of the man who co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He is writing to WGBH about a program called 'Divided Memories', which you may have seen, that was supposed to be an investigation of memory. This letter also went to Congress and to the press, so it's a public letter. It's just unfortunate that the press, as far as I know, didn't pick it up.
'Gentlemen: Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn [their daughters] are my nieces. There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam, while they were raising their daughters. Peter said (on your show, 'Divided Memories') that his humor was ribald. Those of us who had to endure it, remember it as abusive at best and viciously sadistic at worst. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise. That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media. Neither Peter's mother (who was also mine), nor his daughters, nor I have wanted anything to do with Peter and Pam for periods of time ranging up to more than two decades. We do not understand why you would 'buy' such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality. For the most part you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredibly bizarre and exotic alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents, While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators, most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the mainstream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting television, it certainly does not make for more objectivity and fairness. I would advance the idea that 'Divided Memories' hurt victims, helped abusers and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public broadcasting is funded to support.

Although the typical abusive man works to maintain a positive public image, it is true that some women have abusive partners who are nasty or intimidating to everyone. How about that man? Do his problems result from mistreatment by his parents? The answer is both yes and no; it depends on which problem we’re talking about. His hostility toward the human race may sprout from cruelty in his upbringing, but he abuses women because he has an abuse problem. The two problems are related but distinct.

The BFMSS [British False Memory Syndrome Society]
The founder of the 'false memory' movement in Britain is an accused father. Two of his adult daughters say that Roger Scotford sexually abused them in childhood. He denied this and responded by launching a spectacular counter-attack, which enjoyed apparently unlimited and uncritical air time in the mass media and provoke Establishment institutions that had made no public utterance about abuse to pronounce on the accused adults' repudiation of it.
p171-172
The 'British False Memory Syndrome Society' lent a scientific aura to the allegations - the alchemy of 'falsehood' and 'memory' stirred with disease and science. The new name pathologised the accusers and drew attention away from the accused. But the so-called syndrome attacked not only the source of the stories but also the alliances between the survivors' movement and practitioners in the health, welfare, and the criminal justice system. The allies were represented no longer as credulous dupes but as malevolent agents who imported a miasma of the 'false memories' into the imaginations of distressed victims.
Roger Scotford was a former naval officer turned successful property developer living in a Georgian house overlooking an uninterrupted valley in luscious middle England. He was a rich man and was able to give up everything to devote himself to the crusade.
He says his family life was normal and that he had been a 'Dr Spock father'. But his first wife disagrees and his second wife, although believing him innocent, describes his children's childhood as very difficult. His daughters say they had a significantly unhappy childhood.
In the autumn of 1991, his middle daughter invited him to her home to confront him with the story of her childhood. She was supported by a friend and he was invited to listen and then leave. She told him that he had abused her throughout her youth. Scotford, however, said that the daughter went to a homeopath for treatment for thrush/candida and then blamed the condition on him. He also said his daughter, who was in her twenties, had been upset during a recent trip to France to buy a property. He said he booked them into a hotel where they would share a room. This was not odd, he insisted, 'to me it was quite natural'. He told journalists and scholars the same story, in the same way, reciting the details of her allegations, drawing attention to her body and the details of what she said he had done to her. Some seemed to find the detail persuasive. Several found it spooky.
p172-173

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