Why Does He Do That?: Quotes by Lundy Bancroft

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What are some of the best Why Does He Do That? quotes? What can you learn about abuse from these quotes?

Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? explains the motivation and logic behind domestic abuse so that victims can better defend themselves against it. He argues that abusers treat their partners badly because they benefit from doing so.

Take a look at the best Why Does He Do That? quotes to get a better sense of the book.

Why Does He Do That? Quotes to Remember

Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? is a guide to how abusive men think, explaining the motivation and logic behind domestic abuse so that victims can better defend themselves against it. Bancroft draws on his years of experience as a counselor working with abusive men to shed light on how they deliberately confuse, manipulate, and intimidate their victims to get what they want. Ultimately, Bancroft hopes that readers will use his book to better assert their own humanity and independence, either leaving the relationship or demanding that their partner take responsibility for and change his abusive behavior. 

Below are three Why Does He Do That? quotes that embody Bancroft’s books.

“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm.”

Bancroft considers his work as a counselor to have been primarily for the benefit of victims, even as he had more day-to-day contact with abusers. The ultimate goal of anti-abuse programs is to stop the abuse from happening, and if changing the abuser is impossible, Bancroft considers it the duty of counselors and legal authorities to provide the victim with everything she needs to safely exit the relationship and heal. 

To that end, Bancroft encourages anyone working with an abuser to establish and maintain contact with the victim throughout the treatment process. This will ensure, first, that the abuser’s treatment is guided to some extent by the victim’s needs and that he can’t misrepresent what happened in the relationship. Second, it will allow the counselor to direct the victim to additional services, such as domestic violence shelters, mental health organizations, and legal and financial assistance. 

“An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing.”

When the abuser needs something, that need is a top priority, but he rarely thinks of the victim’s well-being in turn. If he’s upset, the victim is expected to coddle him and attempt to improve his mood, or at least to be a passive outlet for aggression. However, if she expresses needs—for emotional support, for sex, for him to participate more in chores, and so on—she’s accused of being suffocating, demanding, or selfish. 

(Shortform note: An abuser will often “project,” or accuse his victim of the same harmful behaviors he himself engages in: being possessive or overly critical, spending irresponsibly, drinking in excess, or even being physically abusive. For abusers, this works to draw attention away from their bad behavior, put the victim on the defensive, and confuse bystanders, who may be hearing about these incidents secondhand and thus be unsure of whom to sympathize with.)

“It is fine to commiserate with a man about his bad experience with a previous partner, but the instant he uses her as an excuse to mistreat you, stop believing anything he tells you about that relationship and instead recognize it as a sign that he has problems with relating to women.”

Abusive men will sometimes claim to have been abused by their mother or an ex-girlfriend as an explanation for their “problems with women” or mistreatment of their current partner. According to Bancroft, these claims are usually fabricated. Of those who did grow up in an abusive household, it was usually with an abusive man whose behavior they learned to model. Claiming to be a victim allows an abuser to avoid taking responsibility for his behavior, and accusing an ex allows him to distance his new partner from any past victims who might try to warn her about him. 

(Shortform note: In addition to claiming to have been a victim of abuse in the past, abusers may also claim that their current partner is the one abusing them, or that they mutually abuse each other, and so neither one can reasonably claim to be the victim. This idea of “mutual abuse” is largely dismissed by domestic violence advocates as ignoring the power dynamics at play in the relationship and demonizing the victim’s attempts to defend herself. If a couple regularly devolves into screaming arguments, but one partner always starts and ultimately wins them, that is not mutual abuse, but the continued exertion of his power.)

Why Does He Do That?: Quotes by Lundy Bancroft

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Lundy Bancroft's "Why Does He Do That?" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Why Does He Do That? summary:

  • A guide to how abusive men think
  • Ways that abuse victims can better defend themselves
  • A breakdown of the four most common myths about abuse

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.