作者： Lundy Bankcroft
A MUST-READ if you are or were ever abused by your partner
This book is by far the best I've read on angry and controlling men, and how to deal with them. Controlling and abusive behavior can be quite confusing as well as infuriating, as abusers tend to use a large repertoire of manipulative tactics such as lying, projection, blackmail, denying being angry, and putting on a "Mr. Wonderful" act to the outside world, etc. "Why Does He Do That" is exceptionally well written, carefully explaining among other things: nine types of abusers; tactics abusive men use to manipulate their partners; early warning signs of abusive relationships; myths about abusers (such as the one that alcohol consumption causes abuse); the legal system and mental health professionals; the effect of abuse on boys and girls; how some families and certain aspects of society grooms boys to be future abusers; and how to help abused women. Bancroft even describes what to look for in men's groups for abusers and how to tell if the abuser is changing for real or is just pretending to change.
Prior to writing this book, Lundy Bancroft had been in the trenches for 15 years as a counselor in an abusive men's program. As a seasoned veteran of dealing with manipulative abusive individuals, Bancroft does an outstanding job of alerting the reader to their tactics and debunking common B.S. claims they make. His stories about his clients and the clients of colleagues are fascinating and provide poignant lessons for the reader. One woman had been in couple's counseling for 6 months with her husband and finally revealed that he was abusing her. Appearing on the verge of tears, the husband told the therapist that he had been in denial about his violence and hadn't been facing how badly it was hurting his wife. On the way home from the session, the husband kept one hand on the steering wheel and in the other clutched a large handful of his wife's hair, repeatedly slamming her into the dashboard as he gave her a screaming, expletive-filled lecture for revealing the abuse to someone outside the family. Bancroft strongly recommends against couples counseling for abusers and any program which recommends that the abused individual unilaterally changes her behavior in hopes he'll change too. This type of therapy doesn't work and can even be counterproductive for reasons Bancroft explains in detail, and the abuser often ends up charming the therapist who may end up siding with the abuser. Besides, abusers often are fairly well versed in anger management skills and conflict resolution. They simply don't respect their partner enough to bother using these skills.
Other books are often good at describing abusive behavior, but this book describes not only what they do, but why they do it and how these men think. When Dr. Phil sees an undesirable behavior, he asks, "What's the payoff?" I.e. what rewards is the perpetrator reaping from behaving this way? Unlike the other books I've read on abuse, Bancroft thoroughly explains what these abusers are getting from the behavior. Unfortunately, the rewards are so powerful, that many abusers refuse to do the hard work of changing their attitudes and behavior. Another important reason the behaviors are so entrenched, Bancroft points out, is that is that abusive men were often conditioned from an early age to feel entitled to be a privileged character in relationships where the partner caters to them. The abuser's high entitlement leads him to have unfair and unreasonable expectations, as well as double standards. One common double standard is that only the abuser is allowed to express anger in the relationship, but not his partner.
This book provides good news and bad: The good news is that abusive behavior is understood like never before and is a solvable problem. The bad news is that it generally requires a serious commitment by the abuser to go through every step of a quality program for abusers. Even for abusers who enroll in a such a program, only a small percentage bother to do every step of the difficult, uncomfortable work of change. If your abuser doesn't think he has a problem, his prognosis for change is ZERO.
A couple small quibbles, but these in no way detract from the book: (1) I'd like to see more writing devoted to the tactics of passive-aggressive abuse. Bancroft mentions that it's common for men in his program, once they realize abuse will no longer be tolerated in their home, to switch tactics from overt abuse to passive-aggressive. But beyond that, he doesn't cover it much. (2) Bancroft mentions other professionals in the abuse field whose work he admires, and also some things in the literature he disagrees with. I would have preferred it if he named the authors and books he disagrees with.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, particularly to individuals who are or suspect they are in an abusive relationship and the individuals who care about them, women with have a history of abusive relationships who want to break the pattern, mental health and legal professionals who deal with abuse, and parents of sons who don't want them indoctrinated by the media, family and friends to be abusers themselves.
P.S. Thank you Lundy Bandcroft for writing this book. You've done humanity a great service.