In the past few years, I’ve written several posts on church bullies and abuse (also here). These two topics overlap and I’ve studied them on and off for some time. Another resource that has to do with these topics is Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. Before I say anything else, I want to note that this is not at all a Christian book and I have many major disagreements with this book. Christian readers will have to be especially discerning when reading it. To be absolutely clear, I only recommend it to mature Christian readers.
Having said that, it is a helpful resource on the topics of [church] bullies and abuse. Here’s one section where the author talked about the abusive mentality. I’ve edited it for length:
- He is controlling. A few of my clients have been so extremely controlling they could have passed for military commanders. Most of my clients stake out specific turf to control, like an explorer claiming land, rather than try to run everything. A large part of this man’s abusiveness comes in the form of punishments used to retaliate against another for resisting his control.
- He feels entitled. Entitlement is the abuser’s belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner. The rights of his wife and children are diminished but his own rights are greatly inflated.
- He twists things into their opposites. The abuser’s highly entitled perceptual system causes him to mentally reverse aggression and self-defense. When I challenge my clients to stop bullying their partners, they twist my words around just as they do their partners’. They accuse me of having said things that have little connection to my actual words.
- He disrespects his wife and considers himself superior to her. The abuser tends to see his partner as less intelligent, less competent, less logical, and even less sensitive than he is. He often has difficulty conceiving of her as a human being. This tendency in abusers is known as objectification or depersonalization.
- He confuses love and abuse. An abusive man often tries to convince his partner that his mistreatment of her is proof of how deeply he cares, but the reality is that abuse is the opposite of love. The more a man abuses you, the more he is demonstrating that he only cares about himself.
- He is manipulative. If a man is abusive all the time, his partner starts to recognize that she’s being abused, and the man may feel too guilty about his behavior. The abuser therefore tends to switch frequently to manipulating his partner to get what he wants. He may also use these tactics just to get her upset or confused, or so that she blames herself and feels sorry for him.
- He strives to have a good public image. If you are involved with an abusive man, you may spend a lot of your time trying to figure out what is wrong with you rather than what is wrong with him. One of the most important challenges facing a counselor of abusive men is to resist being drawn in by the men’s charming persona.
- He feels justified. Abusive men are masters of excuse making. In this respect, they are like substance abusers, who believe that everyone and everything except them is responsible for their actions. The abusive man commonly believes he can blame his partner for anything that goes wrong, not just his abusiveness.
- Abusers deny and minimize their abuse. If the man is abusive, of course he’s going to deny it, partly to protect himself and partly because his perceptions are distorted. If he were ready to accept responsibility for his actions in relationships, he wouldn’t be abusive.
- Abusers are possessive. Possessiveness is at the core of the abuser’s mindset, the spring from which all the other streams spout; on some level, he feels that he owns you and therefore has the right to treat you as he sees fit.
These points can be found (in full length) in Why Does He Do That?, chapter 3.