Monday, March 29, 2010

Dr. Claudia Cornell on the emotional abuse of men by women

excerpts from an online interview Dr. Cornell did for The Upper Deck Blog To read the interview in it's entirety click here
  • What inspired the two of you to start the Women Against the Abuse of Men web site?

The website came about in our effort to provide a practical online resource for men who are dealing with abusive women in their personal lives. There are also many requests for information and resources from family and friends of abused men, and we are attempting to help them as well. As therapists working in the domestic abuse field, it was obvious that men were not accessing help in the same way women do. Taking the time to consider all the reasons why this might be the case, made us realize that most men are probably not getting any assistance at all. Making information on abuse available specifically for men seemed an important thing to do. If abuse in all its forms is fundamentally wrong, then it is just as wrong for a man to be forced to endure abuse as it is for a woman. A critical lapse in abuse advocacy exists when the resources for victims of Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA) have been developed almost exclusively for women and their children, leaving abused men and their children to fend for themselves. Being professional women working in the abuse arena, who know men are also being abused, we felt it was important to acknowledge this openly and to find creative ways to reach these men with the understanding and the resources they need to help themselves. The website and the book seemed to be two effective ways to reach as many men as possible....

  • Could you describe typical emotional abuse scenarios?

Generally speaking, the undercurrent of emotional abuse involves a consistent pattern of discontent on her part, for which he is blamed. She feels justified in manipulating, abusing and even terrorizing him based on her rigid perception that he will only ever fail to meet her expectations; therefore, he deserves her wrath. Letting her have what she wants quickly becomes null and void as soon as she is discontented once again. At some point, she is so invested in her anger, her ability to manipulate him, and how powerful this makes her feel, no matter how hard he tries nothing he does will be good enough. Any success or good mood he may share with her that doesn’t involve something she wants for herself, will only aggravate her; this will likely be followed by her attempt to tear him down and bring him back to a miserable state of self-doubt and loneliness. At some point, he will probably stop trying altogether and share as little as possible with her; this is a survival technique for him, which will work in the short term, but this is not meant to sustain him in the long run. This becomes a vicious cycle of attack and withdrawal, leaving a man to question himself, his self-worth and his purpose.

Another general scenario, involves a woman whose moods change rapidly. She’s up, she’s down, and prone to extreme reactions. There may not be a lot of thought behind her abusive flashes of anger, and these incidents don’t necessarily make sense. This woman may be affected by a mental health problem – possibly Bipolar Disorder. A medical intervention by a licensed Psychiatrist and appropriate medications will be necessary to resolve this issue. Therapy will a qualified therapist is also highly recommended for this woman and her husband and possibly their children where this applies....

  • How does one recognize that one is affected by emotional abuse?

I would encourage any man who suspects her treatment of him crosses the line, to log onto our website and learn more about emotionally abusive behavior. The first step to turning this problem around is becoming fully educated and aware of the problem itself. For instance, men who find themselves walking on eggshells for fear of what ordeal may erupt at home, should learn more about emotional abuse to determine how many signs of abuse they are dealing with on a regular basis. Men who find themselves staying late at work to avoid going home to her might consider a closer look also. Stress-related physical ailments, possibly linked to problems in the relationship are a red flag as well; such as, headaches, stomach problems, neck and muscle pain and so on. Symptoms of mild to moderate depression, which would not be uncommon with abuse, include a loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and an inability to enjoy the things usually enjoyable. Trauma symptoms are more significant and may include nightmares, moderate to severe depression, panic and possibly suicidal thoughts; these symptoms require medical help right away.

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