7 Types of Abusive Men: a Psychological Analysis

abusive relationship

Abusive men come in all shapes and sizes.

But we can differentiate a few specific types based on the external expressions of their abusive tendencies.

This post will provide you with an overview of the types of abusers, their psychology and their modus operandi.

man pointing finger

Traits of All Abusive Men

First, the most important thing:

The commonalities.

I believe that to truly understand human phenomena, it’s always best to start from the deeper layer.
At the core, abusive men have a very distinct psychological make up which seeks power and control.

All abusive men:

  • Seek to control her partner
  • Disrespect her partner
  • Seek to lower her partner’s self-esteem
  • Undermine her independence (and independent partner can’t be controlled)

The specifics of an abusive relationship can change because different abusers have different levels for each trait and they all find different ways to express their abusive “needs”.

Lundy Bancroft, a professional counselor with decades of experience with abusive men, introduces seven archetypes of abusers.
Here they are:

1. Demand Man: The Woman Is There to Serve Him

The demand man believes that his woman is on earth to serve him.

His needs and wants take precedence over most anything else. About your own needs, for sure, and often even above the children’s needs.

If you are in a relationship with an abusive man of this type, he will order you around and expect you to drop anything else to serve him.
Just like a paid servant waiting on stand-by.
Except he doesn’t pay you, he is always unhappy because his standards are too high to meet, and he treats you like dirt.

These are his main beliefs:

  • It’s your job to do things for me
  • If I fail at something, I’ll still get angry at you
  • If I’m unsatisfied with anything, it’s your fault
  • You can’t demand anything of me but I can demand everything of you
  • Be grateful for whatever scrap I give you
  • Don’t ever criticize me
  • In spite of it all, I am a loving person and you’re a lucky woman

The demand man can be less controlling than others… As long as you meet all his needs.

2. The “Padre Padrone”: The Ultimate Authority Of The Whole Family

Ludy Bancroft calls this type of abuser the “military general”.

The military general is all about control.

And he takes “controlling” to a whole new level.
He wants to know everything you do in your life and most anything requires his approval.

Some of them, but not all, take the same uber-controlling attitude on the whole family, while some others only focus on their wives.
When he takes control over the whole family, then I call them “padre padrone”.

“Padre padrone” is an Italian term.
It’s a wordplay of “padre”, meaning “father”, and “padrone”, meaning owner.

It’s a great expression because it goes at the core of what this type of abuser is all about: the “padre padrone” feels like he owns the family, and he acts like he owns the family.

My experience with military generals

My former neighbor used to be a military general with his wife, and he built a custom-made chastity belt for her (I’m not joking).

And I have once dated the daughter of a padre padrone.
Without actually knowing anything about the types of abusive men, she said of him that he was “like a general”.
It pained me to see how deeply that idiot had psychologically impacted her.
I still feel for that woman: that idiot scarred her for life.

Example: The “Padre Padrone”

You will not understand the words, but you will still understand the dynamics:

The “padre padrone” is more common in conservative and religious countries and, most of all, in “cultures of honors”.
Cultures of honor encourage men to be and act more like “owners”.
Men who don’t act like owners in cultures of honors are mocked as spineless.
The protagonist of the video above later attacks another man and yells at him “are you a man, or are you a muppet?”. That other man’s fault? He wasn’t controlling his family well enough.
Because real men, like him, control.

“Padre Padrone” are sometimes hyper-jealous and protective of the females in their household, so they sometimes overlap with the jealous-paranoid abusive type.

The Scarface character is a jealous “padre padrone” towards his sister:

Tony Montana in the movie Scarface also overlaps with the criminal abuser (N.7 on this list).

3. Mr. Right: I Know It All, You Know Nothing

Abusive men don’t always beat their women or yell.

The violent abuser is the favorite representation of TVs and movies, but there are more ways of being abusive.

Mr. Right takes most of his pride of knowing it all.

He believes he has superior knowledge and intelligence compared to you.

There are different types of “Mr. Right” and some of them pick specific niches of authority.
But the most extreme of “Mr. Rights” are the ultimate authority on… Pretty much everything. Including your life.

He knows what’s the best course of action for you and he has an easy answer for any of your problems -you’re just stupid not to see it-.
If you keep arguing with him indeed, you are stupid and you are disrespecting him.

A big area of his expertise, of course, are your shortcomings.

4. The Master Debater: I Must Win All Arguments, You Must Lose Them All

The “Master Debate” will listen to you.

But not to truly understand you, but to use anything you say against you and to win the argument.

The master debater does not scream and does not intimidate you -not physically at least-.
His weapon of abuse is different. He is usually very skilled in verbal production and in influencing people, and he uses all the persuasion and manipulation techniques in the book.

How do you recognize a “Master Debater”?

If a man always gets under your skin and you find yourself angry and resentful without any apparent reason, chances are you are dealing with the verbal and mental power moves of a master debater.

“Master Debaters” often deploy what has been referred to as “gaslighting”.
How do they do it?

When you blow up and become emotional or aggressive, he uses your (legitimate) reaction as proof that you are the abusive one.
Women with a master debater are the most likely to blame themselves because his tactics are some of the hardest to even detect.

It’s hard living with a “Master Debater”, of course. Relationship researcher John Gottman found out that one of the keys to positive relationships is to accept one’s partner influence.
Exactly what Master Debaters don’t want to do.

Example: Jordan Peterson

If Jordan Peterson were an abusive man, he would be extremely effective at it:

Note: just to be clear, I am NOT saying Peterson is abusive.
What I am saying is that his verbal skills and debating techniques could be used by abusive men to get under your skin.
And he definitely gets under Newman’s skin here, so this is a great example.

5. The Sensitive Guy: “How Can You Do This to Him”?

The sensitive guy uses guilt to control you.

When we talked about emotional caretaking in signs of an abuser, this is the type of guy who demands it the most.
He will not scream if your dinner is late, but he will go berserk if you don’t sacrifice yourself for his emotional well being.

Sensitive abusers tend to know some psychoanalysis and psychologist lingo, which they will use to play up their pain and to find faults within you.

He blames you for his pain, but when you are hurt, of course, he ignores it or minimizes it.
With time, he can get threatening and intimidating.

Example: The Good Girl

The movie “The Good Girl” has a great example of a sensitive abuser:

The Victim: Sensitive On Steroids

Similar to the sensitive guy, but he plays up his pains.
For example, to excuse his behavior, he will talk up his childhood abuse, previous women taking advantage of him or life generally being so harsh on him.
Ben Shapiro uses this technique to verbally abuse his victims.

And here is the example of a woman using this technique with me (and how I handled it):

text example of abusive guilt tripping

Her: I just neeed to get out of Jogya right away. I know you can help me and you can afford me, but you won’t

She is framing herself as in bad need of help. And me as the only savior who can help her.
That technique worked great.
I was feeling really bad about it. But angry at the same time, because I knew the game she was playing.
And I held strong to my guns -“dominant frame technique“- to break free of that abusive game.

P.S.:
Don’t jump to the conclusion someone is an abuser. Recognize which is which and you might reall help a poor soul out.

6. The Abusive Player: From Object of Desire to Object

The abusive player tends to look good and to be a sexy man.

In the beginning he can be head over heels for you and you might feel like a lucky woman.
How could this guy possibly be single?

As time goes by though his interest becomes only sexual.
He spends less time with you and does not want any restriction on his freedom.

Many abusive players see women only as sexual objects he uses to feel good about himself, and sometimes are narcissists and/or present sociopath tendencies.

There is one book dedicated wholly to this type of abusive relationship, and it’s called “Psychopath Free“.

Example: The Pimp

Pimps can sometimes be a crossover between players and abusive men.

This character in the movie The Pick Up Artist is a good example (it’s the one who pulls a gun of course):

She is possibly attracted to him. But also completely controlled by him.

Pitching Women Against Each Other

Chronic infidelity is abusive per se.
But the abusive player also manipulates your feelings.

For example, he lies about other women and tries to pitch one woman against another.
This has a name, and it’s called “dread game” in The Red Pill community, where men with abusive tendencies learn how to become better at it and how to play mind games.

But the true abusers, the ones with sociopaths and psychopaths tendencies, take it one notch further.
They will say that other women are spreading rumors because they are jealous, or that they are trying to drive a wedge between you two.

Of course, not all those “other women” must be real.
He might simply make up some stories just to make you jealous, keep you on your toes, and increase his value.

As a last note, not all players and womanizers are abusive. Read more in “the psychology of a player.

7. The Criminal Abuser: 360° of Abuse

Some abusers are not aggressive only with their partners, but with everyone.
These are the ones who are most likely to have other criminal offenses on their record.

Why do women end up with these type of men?

Well, to begin with, he does not introduce himself like an abusive men who is going to batter and physically assault her.
He presents himself as a fearless man.
And because of his attitude, he can make women feel protected.

Of course, rationally that makes no sense.
It’s like keeping a grizzly at home because he will keep other grizzlies away. It just doesn’t work like that: if anything, he is more likely to attract other grizzlies (and behave like a grizzly, of course).

Indeed, this type of abusive man is the most likely to get threatening and physically aggressive.

Here are his central beliefs:

  • Aggressiveness is good
  • Anything mannish is good
  • Anything gay-looking is for fa**ots
  • Compassion and conflict resolution are terrible

An emotional connection with this type of abusive man is virtually impossible (and we might argue it’s impossible with any type of abusive man).

Example Raging Bull

Since movies like to focus on the most visible and extreme elements of domestic abuse, there are plenty of examples of criminal abusers.

One of them is the character of Jake Lamotta, portrayed by Robert Deniro in the movie “Raging Bull”:

Sadistic Abuser

If there were a scale of the worst types of abusers to live with, well… It would probably be “all of them”.

But if one were forced to pick one, it would probably be the sadistic abuser.

The sadistic abuser, similar to the criminal abuser, leverages physical power and threatens you with physical violence.
But on top of being physically abusive, he also takes pleasure out of inflicting pain.

These are also the guys who can be very dangerous for retaliation after a break-up. If you are engaged with a sadistic abuser, you must plan your breakup in advance.

Personally -and this is just my opinion here- I would even advise you don’t just rely on the legal system but move away and make it impossible for him to know your whereabouts.

Are Abusers Dependent on Women?

Patricia Evans, the author of Controlling People, says that abusive men are actually dependent on their women.

Albeit that’s not the case for all of them, it’s true for many of them.
Abusers sometimes form a sort of co-dependent relationship with their spouses. And they can go into a tailspin when she tries to leave them.

As crazy as it might sound, Evans makes the case that some abusers are controlling because they are afraid of losing you and the bond with you. They have an extreme anxious attachment style, and, for some of them, controlling is the only way of keeping the relationship. As a matter of fact, controlling can be his way of “working on the relationship”.

What they don’t realize, of course, is that they are actually destroying that bond with their behavior-.

Susan Forward, author of “Men Who Hate Women” also agrees that misogynists, who tend to be verbal and psychological abusers, are most often afraid of being abandoned.
Misogynists can be highly entitled and demand to be “put first” by their women because they need the unconditional love that they didn’t receive as children.
Also see here an example:

Him: But here’s the bottom line, I was here before the kid, your loyalty should be with me (…) it’s almost like a chain in command

Forward says that misogynists want to be put before the children because they never had unconditional love from their own mothers.

Needless to say, explaining a behavior, even when it’s misguided and motivated by the willingness to be together, does not mean justifying.
No matter what are the reasons behind the abuse, any relationship with an abusive man is a toxic relationship.

Abusers Have Big, But Fragile Egos

Let’s dispel a myth.

You probably heard this one: abusers are weak and low in self-esteem.

That’s what everyone says, including sometimes therapists.
However, that’s not true. As social psychologist Roy Baumeister well explains, most abusers are egotists.

Such as, they have high self-esteem, but fragile self-esteem.

That’s why they perceive more threats and feel the need to lash out when something -or someone- threatens their high self-opinion.
They need to maintain their high self-esteem, and women who make them feel less of a man are a threat to their core identity.

Psychopaths VS Violent Men

Some abusers are psychopaths.
And some others, albeit they might present some psychopathic traits, are

There is a big difference between the two.
Relationship researcher John Gottman calls them “pitbulls and cobras” (Gottman, 2007). And psychology researchers Kevin Dutton, tells us that the difference between the two might be in their level of psychopathy (Dutton, 2012).

See here the difference:

COBRA PIT BULL
Displays violence toward others Usually only violent toward partner
Feels little remorse Shows some level of guilt
Motivated by immediate gratification Motivated by fear of abandonment
Able to let go and move on Obsessive; often stalks victim
Feels superior Adopts the role of “victim”
Fast talker; spins a story for police Greater emotional lability
Charming and charismatic Depressed and introverted
Control means “not being told what to do” Control means “constant monitoring of partner” (see: jealous BF)
Traumatic upbringing; violence prevalent in family Some degree of violence in family background
Impermeable to therapeutic intervention Sometimes benefits from treatment programs
Manipulative: partner less likely to leave Partner more likely to leave
Antisocial: 90% Antisocial: 33%

And this is how they differ in the use of violence:

COBRA PIT BULL
Violence: more severe Violence: less severe
Use of closed-fist / strangling: 91% Use of closed-fist / strangling: 62%
Threatened partner with knife or gun: 38% Threatened partner with knife or gun: 4%
Actual use of knife or gun: 9% Actual use of knife or gun: 0%
Violence outside relationship: 44% Violence outside the relationship: 3%

You can notice that the psychopaths are “colder” in their controlling ways, and more effective.
The non-psychopaths are more emotional.
Probably, it’s the non-psychopaths who are dependent on their women. But the psychopaths, unable to form emotional bonds, are not dependent on their women.

SUMMARY

If you have experienced dating an abuser, chances are you can look at one the types and above think “oh, that was him”.

But of course, there can also be crossovers and overlaps, where one abusive man shows the characteristics of several types.

In summary, you must distance yourself.
This is an article on how to safely end an abusive relationship.


Sources:

4 thoughts on “7 Types of Abusive Men: a Psychological Analysis”

  1. How do you turn the tables on a master debater? My daughter is married to one. Until she sees it we have to deal with it.

    1. Lucio Buffalmano

      That can be tough.

      If he is really good, he will “win” the debates and rebuild goodwill soon after as to not make her feel bad. For example, if she dreams of getting a San Valentine gift but he doesn’t want to spend, he will convince her that it’s best not to do anything, then say that their love is bigger than material things, and that they are great together because of that. Then maybe make a joke, make her smile, and say “there you are, you’re so beautiful when you smile”.
      That way, he gets it his way, and also make her feel good about it. It might take a long time for her to find out that the relationship is an unbalanced one.

      Luckily, most abusers are not that good.
      If the woman ends up feeling bad after most of their quarrels, eventually she will fall out of love and open her eyes. You might help accelerate that process by asking her how she feels. When you see her unhappy, you might ask “how are things dear, how are things in the marriage”. Basically, you want to stir the hurt and let her make the first step first. Once she opens up, then it will be easier for you to help her out of it.

      However, first make 100% sure that indeed the husband is really an undeserving ahole.
      It might even be the case that he cares about her but he focuses on winning because he’s hyper-competitive.
      A good way to find out if he cares is in couple counseling: abusers either refuse therapy, or seek to undermine the therapist.

      1. They are not in counseling. They recently got married. What I see happening is that he makes sure to do his “debating” right now with the family members to cause rifts between her and them. I also see it in other ways. He gets annoyed that she has to work late between now and April because she is an accountant. Subtle comments about the time she spends working with her much older married boss. He tries to direct how she nurses the baby and other little things. I’m not sure what arguments she’s had yet or how she feels about them. My battle is that the family does not get baited and are available to her should she reach out for help.

        1. Lucio Buffalmano

          Since there is a baby, I wouldn’t stir the pot, then.
          I think that your way of approaching the situation is very positive and mature.

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