1) The intrinsic satisfaction of power and control.
The feeling that he rules, is where pleasure lies.
2) Getting his way, especially when it matters to him the most.
Happiness in a relationship depends greatly on your ability to get your needs heard and taken seriously. If these decisions are taken over by an abusive or controlling partner, you experience disappointment after disappointment, the constant sacrificing of your needs.
3) Someone to take his problems out on.
He considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us.
4) Free labor from her: leisure and freedom for him.
Studies have shown that a majority of women feel that their male partners don’t contribute fairly to household responsibilities. However, a woman whose partner is not abusive at least has the option to put her foot down about her workload and insist that the man pick up the slack. With an abusive man, however, if you put your foot down he either ignores you or makes you pay.
5) Being the center of attention, with priority given to his needs.
When a woman’s partner chronically mistreats her, what fills up her thoughts? Him, of course. She ponders how to soothe him so that he won’t explode, how to improve herself in his eyes, how she might delicately raise a touchy issue with him. The entire family strives to enhance his good moods and fix his bad ones, in hope he won’t start tearing pieces out of anyone. Consistently at the center of attention and getting his own way, the abuser can ensure that his emotional needs get met on his terms–a luxury he is loath to part with.
6) Financial control.
7) Ensuring that his career, education or other goals are prioritized.
Closely interwoven with financial control is the question of whose personal goals receive priority. Her own goals may also advance at times, but only as long as they don’t interfere with his.
8) Public status of partner and/or father without sacrifices.
With his strong people-pleasing skills and his lively energy when under the public gaze, he soaks up the smiles and appreciation he receives from relatives, neighbors, and people in the street who are unaware of his behavior in private.
9) The approval of his friends and relatives.
An abuser other chooses friends who are supportive of abusive attitudes. On top of that, he may come from an abusive family; in fact, his father or stepfather may have been his key role model for how to treat a female partner. If these are his social surroundings, he gets strokes for knowing how to control his partner, for “putting her in her place” from time to time and for ridiculing her complaints about him. For this man to renounce abuse, he would have to give up his cheerleading squad as well.
10) Double standards.
An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you. He may allow himself to have occasional affairs, “because men have their needs,” but if you so much as gaze at another man, you’re a whore. He may scream in arguments, but if you raise your voice, you’re “hysterical.” He may pick up one of your children by the ear, but if you grab your son and put him in time out for punching you in the leg, you’re a “child abuser.” He can leave his schedule open and flexible while you have to account for your time. He can point out your faults, while setting himself above criticism, so that he doesn’t have to deal with your complaints or be confronted with the effects of his selfish and destructive actions. The abusive man has the privilege of living by a special set of criteria that were designed just for him.*
You can learn more about how to identify and heal those in abusive relationships at Progressive Concepts.
*With respect and much gratitude, most of this information is taken from the book Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft