An ancient anonymous inscription inside Lubeck Cathedral, Germany
Ye call Me Master and obey me not.
Ye call Me Light and see me not.
Ye call Me Way and walk me not.
Ye call Me Life and choose me not.
Ye call Me Wise and follow me not.
Ye call Me Fair and love me not.
Ye call Me Rich and ask me not.
Ye call Me Eternal and seek me not.
Ye call Me Noble and serve me not.
Ye call Me Gracious and trust me not.
Ye call Me Might and honor me not.
Ye call Me Just and fear me not.
If I condemn you, blame Me not.
These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.
Don Hennessy’s book Steps to Freedom: Escaping Intimate Control is different from most ‘sympathy’ and ‘support’ books which rely on the target woman to protect herself. Instead it talks directly to the target woman while she is being controlled and hopes to give her the permission and the skills to protect her mind and her soul.
Sean Moncrieff interviews Don Hennessy about Steps to Freedom. I urge you to listen to this. Once again Don Hennessy cuts to the heart of what is really going on when men abuse their female partners.
Steps to Freedom is written in practical and accessible language, including case studies.
Controlling behaviour, particularly of men towards women, is far more common, in all walks of life, than we have been led to believe. In this easy-to-read guide, best-selling author Don Hennessy offers practical advice to all those dealing with violent or controlling behaviour in their own lives, based on his experience of dealing with hundreds of such people in a therapeutic setting. Most important, he explains to the reader how they can throw off the shackles and life lives free from fear and intimidation.
Steps to Freedom:Escaping Intimate Control can be purchased direct from the Irish publisher libertiespress.com/shop/steps-to-freedom.
The US distributor has a separate release schedule from the British Commonwealth distributor, as is common with newly published books. Amazon US have listed it as available May 14.
Don Hennessy is the Director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency and the author of the best-selling How He Gets Into Her Head. He is a relationship counsellor who has worked for many years with women who are experiencing difficulties with abusive or controlling partners. Don has been interviewed in the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and Irish Times, and is a regular contributor on the subject of intimate control in the broadcast media in Ireland and internationally.
On this blog we have published a Don Hennessy Digest which contains an exposition of How He Gets Into Her Head and a few different media items where Hennessy is one of the speakers.
Kids and teens aged 10-17 can go to What’s OK at Home? to find info about domestic abuse and family violence. The site helps young people recognize domestic abuse and provides practical guidance to support their safety, health and emotional wellbeing if they are experiencing domestic abuse in their own family.
It also has a section for adults who want to help a child or young person in a family-violence situation, with information about what to do, where to get help, the law, and guidance on how you can make a difference in a young person’s life.
Note: the website is Australian so there may be some info there which does not pertain to other countries.
The site has been created by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV), a statewide service in Victoria, Australia that aims to prevent family violence and promote respectful relationships.
We have added links to this site on our Resources pages:
#DomesticViolence #FamilyViolence #DomesticAbuse #Teens #Children
Don Hennessy says:
We need to find a way to challenge the tolerance of male sexual entitlement which is endemic in our society. This goal is the only one not supported by the skilled offender. (208*)
The issue that limits most of us is that the reality of intimate partner abuse is beyond our belief. (215)
After more than thirty years of energy and commitment our efforts have achieved very little. We have become tangled in a debate that is being orchestrated unwittingly on behalf of skilled offenders. I use the word unwittingly with caution because the power and the success of this distractive discussion may well be a highly efficient and well-hidden tactic of male sexual predators. (203)
The system designed and supported by the community has also been contaminated by the psychephile. (214)
We need to take the focus from the target woman and place it on the skilled offender. (215)
According to Hennessy, there are two levels of reform
- The first level is to change people’s behaviour. This is possible. Men can be given strong reasons for saying one cannot do this ever again. This may change their behaviour.
- However, to change their beliefs or attitudes…may take 1,000 years or so of hard work. Certainly, I will not see it in my lifetime in the sense that it is a long-term problem. (source)
Professionals who work in the domestic abuse field call that second level Primary Prevention.
Is gender equality the answer?
From what I (Barbara Roberts) have read, research indicates that societies with more gender equality tend to have lower rates of male violence against women. Professionals in the domestic abuse field are deducing from this that primary prevention must involve working towards gender equality.
However, Sweden is a country which has gender equality embedded in its social structures more than most other countries, yet despite its reputation for equal opportunity in the workplace Sweden has one of highest rates of domestic violence in Europe. See the article Gender neutrality but high domestic violence rate in Sweden says Rosie Batty. Rosie Batty is a survivor of domestic violence whose son, Luke, was murdered by his father. Rosie was made Australian of the Year in 2014 because of her outstanding advocacy for victims of domestic abuse. You can watch Rosie Batty’s report about her trip to Sweden here.
I know that some countries are intentionally working towards gender equality. But I also know there is another strong force working against the gains they might be making. I’m talking about the porn juggernaut. Pornography is empowering men who abuse their intimate female partners. One of the most popular genres of porn watched by males is the genre which shows women being raped.
Men’s Rights Associations (MRA’s) are also empowering abusive men. MRA’s are an echo chamber where skilled offenders encourage and teach young disaffected men to treat women like sexual objects and domestic slaves.
Even if a society has outwardly embedded gender equality into its laws and institutions, that may be far from sufficient to resist the lethal undertow of the porn juggernaut.
My sense is that while working towards gender equality in society may help, it will not be the whole answer.
In my observation the debate about gender equality is typically admixed with LGBQTI issues. That blending of issues tends to put off genuine Christians. They don’t want to be seen to endorse same-sex relationships and transgender moves because those things are prohibited by Scripture, so they are extremely reluctant to recognise (let alone address) assumptions of male privilege in the bedroom. And of course, there are male-privilege diehards in the visible church who obstinately do their best to control the narrative.
Don Hennessy says that the responsibility of men in the realm of sexual intimacy needs to be our specific focus
For our primary intervention to succeed we need to address the clear and dynamic tactics that young men bring to the task of getting their sexual needs met. We need to challenge the belief that underpins all of their tactics. This belief, of the dominance of their sexual entitlements, has been fostered by the history of, and the justification given to, all sexual predators. It will take courage and integrity to challenge this belief. (183)
The ultimate aim of all our efforts should be to develop a society where sexual integrity is a given for every person. … [Where] the right of a woman to say no will be overridden by the responsibility of the man to seek permission. (214)
When we can establish the need that a woman says yes, then we will make it the duty of the man to ask permission. This is the shift that all men resist. This is the change of language that is needed… (214)
The Bible confirms what Hennessy says.
In 1 Corinthians 7:4b it says that the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (see my post Saying No to sex with one’s spouse).
And the most detailed list of prohibited sexual acts in the Bible (Leviticus 18) addresses all its prohibitions to men.
While the Bible does not condone the sexual sins of women, I think a good case could be made it gives more emphasis to the sexual sins of men.
Back to Don Hennessy:
Domestic violence work is fundamentally different from counseling. (227)
The hopelessness in dealing with uncontrolled sexual entitlement is very concisely dealt with in the biblical exchange (Matthew 18:6) where a question is asked about those who scandalize children. The reply is amazing in its clarity and brutality. The only way to stop these people is to drown them. Perhaps we are too civilised to consider such a barbaric act but the implications of the message are that we need to be very vigorous and very vigilant if we are to stop skilled offenders. (240) [Note from Barb: I have put four translations of Matthew 18:6 at the bottom of this post.]
From working with male intimate abusers it is clear that these offenders are more skilful and more devious than the sex offender who confines his abuse to children. The offender who can develop and sustain a long-term adult abusive relationship with his intimate partner is extremely skilful and determined. (240)
He also has the advantage of the tolerant attitude of the community. Child abuse is no longer misunderstood or accepted. In the last fifty years we as a society have come to accept the appalling effects that pedophiles have on the lives of their targets. Perhaps in the next fifty years we will begin to document and report the effects that adult intimate abusers, the psychephiles, have on the target women. When we can expose what these men do and the effect it has on the women they target, we may be able to eliminate the tolerance that inhibits our response. (241)
Hopefully we will learn from our response to paedophilia and transfer our experience to working with adult intimate abusers. We must take the issue seriously. More importantly, we can no longer allow the skilled offenders to influence what we do. (241)
We need to acknowledge the evil
Above all else we need to acknowledge that the force we are trying to manage, the evil we are trying to stop, will not yield easily. (215)
Clergy may want to mediate because they wish to avoid the reality of the evil that is at work. (213)
Even with courage and integrity we will find that society will resist the challenge. (183)
In 2014 Don Hennessy spoke to a parliamentary committee in the Republic of Ireland (full transcript here). He and other DV specialists had been invited to speak to the parliamentarians about domestic abuse. Here is some of what Hennessy said:
I thank the committee for inviting me to speak. A couple of words that I want to introduce early are “crime” and “evil”. I have heard one but not the other. Male intimate abuse is the most widespread form of crime in this country, but it is also the most evil form of behaviour that I have ever encountered. All of our efforts to deal with this crime have failed because of our ignorance, our tolerance and our desire to be fair.
Our ignorance is founded on our reliance on the victim to explain her experience while she is unaware of the covert tactics of targeting, setting up and grooming that are used by all psychephiles to establish and maintain mind control. This is why I call them “psychephiles”.
Our tolerance is founded on our ambivalence about male sexual priority, which is rife throughout the country.
Our desire to be fair causes us to misdiagnose the perpetrator and to fail to recognise his psychopathic terrorism and his sociopathic lying. It leads us to blame the victim and collude with the psychephile. It will lead us to be groomed by the psychephile and will inevitably cause us to wilt under his persistence. It will allow us to resist putting human rights legislation into our law and to claim constitutional support for putting property rights before victim safety rights. It will give the word of a sociopathic liar equal status with that of the victim. It will allow the psychephiles, who account for one in four of all men in relationships, to dictate our response. It will eventually lead to us doing nothing to solve the problem.
[Hennessy then describes how a 1997 Task Force on Violence Against women made lots of recommendations, but in 2012 a review showed that very few of those recommendations had been put into effect – and those which were being implemented were only at an early stage.]
A solution to the problem is to stop talking, to read what we promised to do in 1997 and to make a start there.
Psalm 82:1-4, 8
God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
How long will you judge unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked?
Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Arise, O God, judge the earth!
For it is You who possesses all the nations.
Whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me – it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! (HCSB)
Whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (American King James Version)
Whoever misleads one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung about his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Modern English Version)
Everyone who commits an offense against one of these little ones who believe in me, it were profitable for him that a donkey’s millstone would be hung around his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Whoever kidnaps a person must be put to death, whether he sells him or the person is found in his possession. (Christian Standard Bible)
*** *** *** *** *** ***
*Unless otherwise indicated, all indented quotes in this post are from Don Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head: The Mind of the Male Intimate Abuser [*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.] We have added this book to our Gift Books Offer in which we offer to give certain books to cash-strapped victims.
Emphasis in all quotes has been added by me.
Steps to Freedom: Escaping Intimate Control, Don Hennessy’s new book, can be purchased direct from the Irish publisher libertiespress.com/shop/steps-to-freedom
Hennessy says that Steps to Freedom is different from most ‘sympathy’ and ‘support’ books which rely on the target woman to protect herself. Instead it talks directly to the target woman while she is being controlled and hopes to give her the permission and the skills to protect her mind and her soul.
Amazon UK and Amazon Canada have listed it as available April 30.
As is common with newly published books, the US distributor has a separate release schedule from the British Commonwealth distributor. Amazon US have listed it as available May 14.
Abuse and Pre-Marriage Counseling: We Must Change Our Approach – by Ps Jeff Crippen
Trusting God when the Reviler Attacks
Psalm 31 (NKJV)
by Ps Sam Powell
Psalm 31 In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
2 Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.
3 For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
4 Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
6 I have hated those who regard useless idols;
But I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
8 And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.
9 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.
14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
16 Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
17 Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
22 For I said in my haste,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.
23 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.
You can listen to this sermon by clicking on the link above.
Every survivor’s story can encourage and empower other survivors of abuse. Victims feel they are not so alone when they hear the raw, real accounts from other survivors.
Three survivors of domestic abuse told their stories to Ray D’Arcy who is an Irish radio show presenter. Ray D’Arcy then sought comment from Don Hennessy and other professionals who work in the field of domestic abuse.
The three accounts from survivors will resonate with you if you are a victim-survivor of domestic abuse, or a compassionate worker in the field.
I think Ray D’Arcy was outstanding in the way he responded to both the victims and the professionals he interviewed. The most heart-warming thing for me was the shock and outrage he showed about what male offenders do to the women they target. It is rare that a male radio host shows appropriate outrage at what abusive men do to their intimate female partners.
Here are some quotes from the show after the three victims had told their stories. Ray D’Arcy is speaking to Don Hennessy:
Ray Darcy: (53:45) So you’ve heard similar stories before, haven’t you?
Ray: And the themes and the patterns and the way of doing things?
Don: I think the first thing I would like to say is to really congratulate all the ladies who have spoken so far and their courage and their ability to talk.
And one of the things they that seem to indicate was that in some ways they were vulnerable young women at some point in their lives. But being in an abusive relationship has nothing to do with being a vulnerable woman. It can happen to any woman.
The only reason why it doesn’t happen to some women is that they have never been targeted by an abusive man.
The girls that are there in the studio with you are no different than the women who are living in non-abusive relationships.
So I would like to remind them that rather than thinking that there was something wrong with them, or that they were vulnerable or that they were naive, they had four very strong attributes which these guys spotted from a mile off.
The four attributes skilled offenders look for when selecting a target woman
Note from Barb: I mentioned these four attributes in part 3 of this series, but they are worth revisiting here.
Don: (54:50) The first thing is that all the women are very kind.
What I mean by that is they are the type of women who puts other people before themselves. They were minding their mothers, Nora’s a nurse – whatever the way they go about life they put themselves out for other people. If you’re that kind of a woman you are a target for these men.
The second thing is that in their relationship with these guys they were very loyal.
And even though we’ve heard horrific stories I would image that there are things that happened to these ladies that would never be spoken about. They’ve buried them in the secrets of their heart and they will keep them there.
The third thing they have is that they are dedicated.
In other words they are the people who have a word so if they say, “I’ll be there tomorrow,” or “I’ll do this next week” they do it. They’re not careless about it. They’re not people who say, “Oh, I couldn’t be bothered.” They would get up and do it.
And the fourth thing they have, which is a wonderful attribute, is that they are all very truthful.
And that’s one of the things that attracts these guys. And that’s one of the things that is their downfall, really, because when you are truthful – when you are trying to develop an intimate relationship – you begin to talk about what’s going on inside your own mind, inside your own spirit, and you give him access to the whole thing.
He becomes a controller of your mind, but he’s not very skilled. He just has to listen and most of the women that I meet at the beginning use to say to me, “Gee, Donny, he never listens to me. He’s miles away.”
The truth is he listens to everything. He stores all the information and uses it as ammunition when he feels like it and can recall it two years or twenty-two years later. So he never forgets anything that he can use against his partner.
Ray: (1:00:48) This has been a difficult listen for me so I imagine it has been for you at home, but it’s very important that these stories are heard. Don has been listening to these stories for over 25 years now. [Don, you said that the abuser’s] actions are premeditated?
Don: Absolutely. They have a plan and they have a goal and all their actions are intentional. Now it is beyond belief — as two of your ladies already said “we tried to make sense of things”– but you can’t make sense of it.
It is beyond ordinary human belief to think that a guy goes out to destroy the humanity of his partner.
He wants to dehumanize her so that she will be at his bidding. And it’s the only way he can do it. He does it deliberately.
He does it gradually, so she doesn’t realize. So she thinks this is all part of the game or whatever, and he will invade her spirit.
And what’s really wonderful is that because Women’s Aid and other groups are speaking out loud about it at every chance they get – it’s beginning to become apparent for most young women now that this situation is not appropriate in their lives. Nobody deserves to be abused at any level. But you can’t make sense of it.
Ray: The pattern is that they sort of strip their victims of self-esteem, of nearly personality.
Don: The way that I try to describe it: they actually quiten the person’s instinct.
BLAME SHIFTING: a red flag that a someone is an abuser
Don: (1:03:02) I have two teenage daughters – well, they were teenage quite some years ago – and when I started the work they asked “What’s the advice if you are dating someone?” And I said, “The only thing I’d say to you is if you’re being blamed for something that isn’t your fault, just run. Don’t try and explain it, and don’t try to justify it. Just run.”
Ray: That’s pretty basic. I suppose to a lot of people listening it seems like an over reaction, but you from your work know that that leads to other abuse, and worse abuse.
Don: The essential thing is that when the abuse happens, the abused person (99 times out of 100 it’s the woman) has to look inside her own head and say, “Oh, God, what did I do now to bring that on?” And once she’s thinking that way she’ll ignore his bad behavior.
Ray: (speaking to the victims) You all said that.
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After that program was broadcast, Ray D’Arcy did a follow up where he talked with Margaret Martin from Women’s Aid Ireland about the the feedback from the first episode. You can listen to it here:
Here is a short transcript, starting at 15:13 —
Margaret Martin : People understand much more now about grooming in terms of children – how pedophiles get access to children. But the reality is that in those circumstances they’ve also been grooming all of the adults around that child. And they’re very skilled. And the same process of grooming is going on in domestic violence. It’s going on with the woman and it’s going on with all of the people around her.
Ray: And it’s a long game!
Margaret: It’s a very long game.
Ray: That’s what shocked me. Premeditated. Planning for the longterm.
Margaret: Absolutely. And very skilled. So that people can say, “But I’ve never seen that side of him!” And then people can think their judgement almost negates hers. And the reality is: he’s very careful about not letting other people see it.
Our Don Hennessy Digest lists all the posts in this series and gives biographical details of Don Hennessy.