Similar to minimising, people who use power and control to get their way will use reasoning and rationalisation. They’ll rationalise by saying things like, “I only did it one time” yet in actual fact they use controlling tactics daily, weekly … in an ongoing way over a long period of time. They rationalise by saying that one behaviour they did a moment ago was a one-off – and therefore minimise the incessant ongoing pattern of control across time. Teresa said “It’s very clever because there’s a logic to what they say. At the time there isn’t an argument against it, it makes sense, it’s not till you go away afterwards and think about it and think ‘no that’s not right’.” The controlling partner will rationalise by reminding her of all the times she did something wrong and he did something right. He’ll also compare his behaviours with other men’s saying that his were nowhere near as bad and that she has it good with him. Such comparisons especially happen when the man never uses physical violence. There is so little mention of coercive control in the news media — which means the victim has very little back-up from society to support her interpretation of his behaviours.
When a controlling person justifies their behaviours, they usually turn the attention onto the victim — saying that they would not have behaved that way if she had done what he expected of her, such as keep the children quiet, have the dinner on the table on time, not challenge a decision he made. As Donna said, “Everything in Frank’s world was…he was justifiably right in everything.”
Blaming entails admitting that he has used abusive, controlling behaviours, admitting she may feel harmed, BUT he takes absolutely no ownership or responsibility for his actions and their effects. It’s common for men who use controlling behaviours to say to their partner “it’s all your fault you’ve done this.” Elsie said Leon would “blame my dog for things and it obviously wasn’t. I remember his dog one day (laughter) had shat on the floor in the lounge, he’d been shut in or something. I was really cross about it and he blamed me for that. If he blamed me I would just agree and say I was sorry. I suppose I did that quite a bit and accept it was my fault just for peace, but internally I didn’t believe it.” Being continually blamed for someone else’s behaviour can be crazymaking. However when I question deeply, the women who come to me for counselling, they will have been like Elsie — that is, even though many women start to outwardly behave as if they are “letting the abuse happen” or as if “they are putting up with his controlling behaviours” . . . . In reality, somewhere deep inside them they will have quietly held onto their own voice as they learned it was not beneficial to continue to push for him to take personal-responsibility.
The effect of being constantly blamed for her husband David’s behaviours would lead Elizabeth to “bend over backwards. I would say to him well, ‘How do you want me to be?’ I wanted him to tell me what I needed to do to be okay, to be the wife he wanted, to be the person he wanted.”
Teresa said her partner Patrick “blamed me for lots of things. The drinking was the thing he blamed me for most. He was a secret drinker. When I would confront him about being drunk or about drinking, it would be my fault because I’d upset him by telling somebody something, or I’d spent too much time with my friends, so what was he supposed to do. That sort of thing felt like a consequence of breaking the rules.” Teresa said Patrick “tried to make me drink and said that the reason he drank was my fault because I had such an odd puritanical attitude about alcohol which is totally untrue. That he had to hide it from me because it would upset me and that if I would sit down and have 12 beers a night with him, then it would be fine.” As many women do in response to incessantly being blamed, they do as Teresa did: “I apologised, said I wouldn’t do it again.” Teresa said Patrick “blamed me for his marriage breaking up as well. The blaming me for the drinking is a thing I recall most vividly, because in retrospect it’s so absolutely bizarre (laughter). How could it be my fault that he got pissed every night and hid the cans under the floor and in the ceiling and in the filing cabinet, it’s not my fault. But I really thought it was, that I had some serious problem with alcohol that I couldn’t see that this was normal behaviour (laughter). Women usually seek to engage their partner in conversation seeking to understand why he abuses and controls them. During such conversations with Patrick, Teresa said he’d respond by saying, “Because I made him. Every behaviour of his I didn’t like, he did because I made him, because of my attitudes and my behaviour. He was doing it in response to me and a lot of the time he was doing it so he didn’t upset me, like hiding his drinking. It was my fault that I was upset about it because if I hadn’t snooped I would never have found out about it so what could I expect?” Sally said throughout her seven year marriage to Dylan, she would never back down from trying to get him to take responsibility for his behaviours, but, “He never ever would work out any problems that we had. He always blamed me every single time, without fail. He would just never take responsibility for any of his actions. I left him because he just would not meet me half way.” She said he blamed her all the time and like many women who are consistently made to feel responsible for their partner’s behaviours, she ended up believing it was true, so she “always tried hard to fix myself and I think that is why, in the end, I went on Prozac because I was exhausted from trying to fix myself when I actually wasn’t the problem.” Raewyn said it might only be little things, but that Brian would often “blame me (laugh). If something went missing he would blame me, whereas really it had been him who put the thing somewhere, whatever it is, a book, or some tool, or whatever. ”Donna said her husband “wouldn’t acknowledge that there was anything wrong. To this day Frank will tell you that our whole marriage break up was my fault.” Victoria said Graham would blame her for “everything! His actions, problems in the marriage. Everything was my fault. Everything, absolutely everything. Our first real fight once we got married, we’d been married about 20 minutes, and we got to the reception and his family threw rice at us sitting in the back of the car and it went down his shirt — That was my fault. So he stormed off and wouldn’t talk to me, and my sister’s husband had to go and get him into the reception. And then we went into the room after we got married that night he wanted to watch a video. We didn’t have the video cord adaptor thing, so I rung down to reception and asked them about it and they’re like, ‘aren’t you the newly weds?’ and I’m like, ‘don’t even go there’. They said, ‘we didn’t think you’d need the adaptor so we lent it to another room’. So that was my fault somehow, I should have been aware of the adaptor problem.” Karen said her husband Felix “had this new age philosophy that we all construct our own lives, our own existence and he would say, ‘if you have got this problem Karen, then this is entirely your fault and your decision, and you are the only one who can do anything about it, it’s got nothing to do with me. You own your situation, it is yours not mine.’ Which is fine to an extent, I’m ok with this. But I do believe that we need to take responsibility for the way that we behave with each other and how our actions impose on other people. He’s got this philosophy if you’re sitting down watching tele at night on the couch and a piece of fuselage falls off a plane falls through your ceiling and kills you, then you obviously created that, you asked for it, it’s your fault. Everything he did was my creation.” In response to Felix avoiding taking responsibility for his controlling behaviours, and twisting the concept of personal-responsibility around as a way of blaming Karen for his abusive and controlling behaviours, Karen “argued with it. I hated it. I still hate it. But I resisted it, I argued about it every time, and I’d say, ‘well how come it’s that way that everything in your life is my fault?’”