Don Hennessy says domestic abusers are like pedophiles — and there’s not much proof they’re redeemable.
He’s your ideal man and your worst nightmare.
Men who abuse women tend to go through a subtle but ultimately dramatic transformation that leaves their partner desperately searching for the person he was at the start of their relationship and blaming herself for losing him along the way.
“They are extremely clever people,” says Don Hennessy, relationship counsellor and former director of the [Irish] National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency.
He means cleverness at its most cruel. Abusers, Hennessey says, are conmen and brainwashers who employ tactics no different from paedophiles. Those are strong words but Hennessy believes in straight-talking. …
Hennessy says abusers will go out of their way to find a woman they can take advantage of, and believes they operate the same way as paedophiles, grooming their victim.
They start from the day they meet the prospective partner. What they are really looking for is somebody who will put his needs before hers.
The woman will take responsibility for him being happy and the pattern is there right at the beginning. If he meets somebody who has more self-interest than concern for him or who doesn’t respond the way he wants, he tends to move on. Abusers look for kindness and they abuse that kindness.
“They are probably the biggest conmen I have come across in my life. They are very capable of presenting themselves in whatever way is attractive to the woman. If she tries to leave, he will pull her back. He will convince her that if she changes or improves, everything will be okay. She is constantly being re-groomed. The process is exactly the same as with a paedophile,” [says Hennessy]
As with the paedophile, he believes the primary sense of entitlement is sexual.
… Hennessy does not believe abusers are completely irredeemable — but he hasn’t seen much proof that they are.
Getting Inside Her Head Irish Examiner, 2013 (boldface mine)
I recommend you click that link and read the whole article. If you are a survivor of domestic abuse it will ring many bells for you. If you are a church leader I think it will could help you understand why domestic abuse cases are so hard to deal with pastorally. Don Hennessy has such a lot of wisdom about domestic abuse.
Here are excerpts from another article about Don Hennessy titled Men who abuse women ‘use the same tactics as pedophiles and I’ve never met one who wanted to change’, says author of How He Gets in her Head (Laura Larkin, Irish News, 2017, boldface mine) —
Mr Hennessy believes that for men who abuse it is a ‘lifestyle choice’. “It’s founded on a sense of entitlement and a lack of what I call conscience. He thinks he is entitled to do certain things. He will not have a sense of the impact that those things will have on anybody else. He will just go through life taking what he can get from people and primarily that’s in his family life,” he said.
“He might be very different socially or in his workplace so that you might not be able to spot him but when he closes the front door he will be a very different person.
“The thing that these people lack is a conscience and [we] haven’t discovered any psychiatric or psychological process that can give someone one of those.
“A conscience is the term I use to describe the difference between what is right and wrong and to choose what is right thing. … These people don’t seem to have that and if they have it they seem to ignore it.”
Mr Hennessy said that he has never encountered a man who wished to change his ways.
Not long before Jeff Crippen resigned from this blog he discovered Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head [affiliate link*] and gave me a heads-up about it. Hennessy’s book was published in 2012 but this was the first we had heard of it. I have no idea why it is not a best seller in the domestic violence field. I think the book is superb. It is not written primarily for victims, but can easily be read by victims. We have put it on our Recommended Books list. And we have added it to our Gift Books Offer for victim-survivors who can’t afford to purchase it for themselves.
I believe that victim/survivors would find How He Gets Into Her Head as helpful as Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That?. Hennessy’s book is much easier to read than another book we have recommended on this blog which is also aimed at professionals, Evan Stark’s Coercive Control [affiliate link*].
I’ve been intending to introduce our readers to Don Hennessy’s work ever since Jeff Crippen told me about it. My apologies for not publicizing Hennessy’s work sooner.
This post is Part One in a series on Don Hennessy in which I will be summarizing Hennessy’s book and quoting from more media articles about his work. In addition the series will be sharing videos and radio shows that feature Hennessy. I suggest you dig deep into this material. It will open your eyes even more to the deviousness of domestic abusers. It has certainly opened my eyes more…. and I’ve been studying this field since 1999.
All posts in the series will be listed in our Don Hennessy Digest which will be published tomorrow. As each subsequent posts in the series is published, we will add a link to it in the Digest. The Digest will also give Hennessy’s biographical details, showing the duration and depth of his experience in the field of domestic abuse.
If any of our readers have been wondering why ACFJ has been a bit light-on in content recently, the explanation is that I’ve been working on this Don Hennessy series. And I’ve also been working on the promised series about Chris Moles which will come out after the Hennessy series. I wanted to get the Hennessy series out first as I will be referring back to it in some of my posts about Chris Moles.
Update: I have just heard from Don Hennessy that his next book, Steps to Freedom, will be coming out in April 2018. It will be 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. Additional information about this book is here.