Why men abuse women


I’m not sure if I like the characterization of these as “unabashed.” In a program like this men are encouraged to share how they really feel. Getting people to do that is part of the work of the facilitator. If the men gave honest responses, that doesn’t tell us how they feel about themselves for thinking or behaving that way. To me it shows a good level of participation that might bode well for the program.


You beat me to the punch. The first step toward stopping a destructive behavior is recognizing it.

People can’t change how they think or behave unless they’re aware of how they think and behave. Most people don’t start out choosing how they behave - they behave “naturally”, in the way that they’ve been brought up by society to behave. The don’t consciously decide to think or behave a certain way, it’s just what they’ve come to understand as being “normal”.

Getting them to actually think about how they behave, to question why they behave that way, and to ultimately make the active decision to behave differently is the only way people overcome these deeply ingrained problems.

Unfortunately, there is a very strong reflex to shame and shun people for negative behavior - as if alienating them and making them miserable and defensive is going to somehow grant them an epiphany and let them see themselves in a truer light; as if negativity can somehow breed anything other than more negativity.

The strange, sad fact of humanity is that it is far too easy for all of us to hurt others who have done wrong, and perpetuate the cycle of blame and hatred. If we want meaningful change, we need to somehow find the strength to forgive them, work to heal them, and help stop the wrong from ever happening again.


Sounds like a healthy thing in a program designed to make it stop – admitting that there’s selfish reasons for it, that you benefit from it, that it’s your responsibility, not theirs.

Still pretty chilling, as any naked glimpse into human thoughts can be.


Although, on the other hand, sociopaths or maybe psychopaths may be extraordinarily honest about some motivations, but desire never to change, while taking pride in the control. I’m not saying those titles apply to all of the people who participated, but sharing motivation isn’t always a first step toward change. I’d think in some it could actually reinforce the behavior since they know they aren’t alone in it, there is less shame derived from it.


Unfortunately, the impulse to assign blame, to meet negativity with negativity, is also one of those things that come “naturally”. Hence - the broken penal system, the high recidivism rates, and the self-perpetuating cycle of human misery.

Hence why recognizing that fact is so important to being able to fix this world.

I doubt sociopaths get put into court-mandated intervention programs, rather than being locked up in mental institutes once they get diagnosed as lacking a sense of moral responsibility or social consequence.

You’re straying beyond the context of the article and bringing up unrelated conjecture which seems to be operating under assumptions of worst case scenarios. Just thought you should be aware of that fact.

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You do realize this is Boing Boing?

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I mean, sociopaths aren’t intentionally placed in treatment programs, but I think to say they wouldn’t end up there because of a properly-functioning justice / rehabilitation system is a little optimistic. If anything, quite a few (not all) sociopaths would avoid this kind of group by avoiding arrest in the first place due to wealth. I’m sure there are probably a handful that end up in these groups, and would be a good thing for counselors to be trained to watch out for. It is a bit of a distraction to mention, though, and even more so if the point is to say " we shouldn’t do these groups, despite the positive outcomes, b/c maybe psychopaths…"

I didn’t realize we weren’t allowed to consider anything or anyone outside of the article. I guess that’s the end of that discussion then.

Adding: I never said the programs shouldn’t be done. I have no idea how effective it is. It is effective in revealing a very twisted mindset that is very difficult to alter, however.

People who are sociopaths are very able to game this very type of program and look like a model patient.


Its a start, and it has to start somewhere. In that group surely their are minors participating who have some hope of reform. One could hope. I don’t expect it but I remain hopeful.

I do think as a formerly abused woman it is nice to have it lain out bare so I have the power to review my choices in staying with a controlling man and why I was blinded as a victim. And it helps the rest of the world be able to stop and realize what the game is that perpetrators are playing, that is a great step in stopping abuse.


This is so horrible.

And so worth reminding people about what other people really think. And act upon.

Also worth noting, despite interventions, recidivism is high.

Yeah, whether these dudes are suitably “abashed” or not, statements like convince her she’s to blame strike me as significant improvements over ones like why do you make me hit you?

Sure, some of these men may be proud of their approach, or coldly indifferent. But those who actually have potential to change – which is, I assume, the point of the program in question – aren’t likely to do so without this level of initial, brutal self-examination.

I only infrequently join in the pedantry parade, but “abashed” is just such an inadequate, inappropriate word, in this context. The story here is that abusive men are (hopefully) owning their abusive practices, not that they aren’t being coy enough when discussing them. Abashed ~ embarrassed, and more likely to sweep stuff under the rug. Shame ~ loathing, a motivator for genuine remorse and serious recalibration.

(Apparently, this unfortunate word choice originates in the original ProPublica post. So it’s not an editorial decision by Ms. Jardin.)

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Not to mention that most people aren’t sociopaths. It’s very tempting to paint any wrongdoer as irredeemably evil (presumably because that makes it easier to pretend they are completely unlike you), but that’s not very constructive if your aim is reform (or even something more utilitarian like preventing further transgression).

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Here’s part of my quote that everyone seems to ignore:

I’m not saying those titles apply to all of the people who participated

Would be interesting to see what female abusers would say in a similar programme. This (rather old) article from Jezebel and accompanying comments suggests “he was totally asking for it” would be quite high on the list.


Mod note: Keep it on topic and the topic isn’t “NOT ALL MEN!”


Would some (more) discussion on sociopathy / personality disorders both generally and wrt domestic violence be straying too far off the mark?