As a Psychologist I see a lot of people who are either the victims or perpetrators of domestic violence, including sexual and emotional abuse. Because communication is so important to a relationship, unfortunately when words end physical violence can start. Most of the people therapists see are the victims, who unfairly blame themselves for the situation. The perpetrator, usually male, is either forced to come for therapy through a court order or ultimatum from his partner, and their domination is evident as soon as they walk in my room. They try to control the conversation, they make excuses and become defensive easily. She stays quiet and small if she comes along. I have a few minutes to build rapport and show him that I could be of help, otherwise he won't come back. He can be very stubborn, full of emotional baggage, and not used to showing any weaknesses. They are both suffering in different ways. It is so upsetting that he chooses (consciously or not) to turn his suffering into aggression towards her. At times like these I am ashamed of being male. I try to help these men learn better emotional, mental and behavioural skills, knowing how much of a positive impact this can have on everyone in his life.
Good men exist. Good men believe that male domination should be torn down, both in the bedroom and the boardroom. Good men know that we need movements like #metoo to make real progress in society, including creating true equal rights, equal pay and equal say. Good men hail the fact that male abusers are being exposed and don't get away with their abhorrent behaviour anymore. Good men cant stand the Harvey Weinstein's, Bill Cosby's. Kevin Spacey's, Matt Lauer's, Johnny Depp's, Don Burke's and Rolf Harris's of the world who abuse their power and positions for money, fame and sexual gratification. Good men cant stand the enablers that have allowed this to happen.
Good men are not confused about what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. The line is clear and good men don't cross it because they respect themselves and others enough. Good men know the difference between a respectful compliment and a sleazy one. They understand the difference between courtship and predation. This is about stopping bad behaviour. Its not a gender war. Lets not forget men who are abused by other men, and men who are abused by women. In the workplace the bully is sometimes male, sometimes female. More people need to be held to account for their poor behaviour, no matter who they are or what position they hold in society. More of us need to improve our relationship skills at home and work.
We can all contribute to improving the way we relate to others to create a more responsible and mature society - this means a society less focussed on self interest, more on the greater good of the community.You contribution may just be a slight change of attitude, showing more empathy, or behaving less aggressively when things don't turn out the way you wanted. Every little bit counts, as we help create a critical mass of people creating positive change.
My new book Closer provides a guide to how to improve your relationship skills. It is out now in bookstores, booktopia and amazon.
Check out my online personal development program, including relationship topics, on