The Good Guy Abuser
Growing up as a woman, you are conditioned to fear the sketchy men in dark alleys more than the monsters in your closet. You are told time and time again to find a man who will treat you right, a man with manners, a nice guy. But what happens when the guy who buys us flowers and opens our doors is just as dangerous as the strangers we avoid? The reality is, the “good guy” can be the abuser, too.
Imagine for a moment that you just started dating this guy. Your parents love him, your friends love him, everybody loves him. He throws you a surprise party for your birthday, and he kisses your forehead in public, he seems perfect. However, behind closed doors things are a little different. He loses his temper sometimes and becomes rather ugly and offensive. He never puts his hands on you, so you tell yourself it’s not that serious. Suddenly it’s two years later and you are sick of the flat out verbal abuse. You try to confide in your loved ones, but people have a hard time believing it because “he was such a good guy.” For so many women, this is all too familiar.
We all remember Bill Cosby, right? The man who paved his way into everyone's hearts by perfecting the ideal father figure role. He was admired and respected by thousands. He was also accused of drugging and sexually assaulting up to 60 women. How about Johnny Depp? He charmed a number of women into thinking they would actually date a pirate. His relationship with Winona Ryder became the epitome of romance in the early 90’s. Oh yeah, and he also was accused of beating his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
The interesting thing is, once these men were outed for being rapists and abusers, they were still considered “good guys.” In fact, they were fiercely defended as such. In both scenarios, the women were accused of lying, often times called gold-diggers and attention seekers while the men were protected. Several people spoke out to vouch for the character of these men, insisting that they are kind, warm-hearted, good guys. How could a good guy do such a thing?
We see scenarios like this all the time. You are much more likely to witness someone defending an accused abuser because he is just “too nice,” than you are to witness someone defending an actual victim. Because of this, the good guy abuser can potentially be much more dangerous than those scary men in the shadows we fear. As long as a man presents himself as honorable and chivalrous, he can get away with almost anything. If he has the public reputation of “one of the good ones,” who is going to believe otherwise?
I’d like to challenge my fellow women and femmes to be cautious of the token nice guys and to never let their respected reputation cloud your judgment. More importantly, I’d like to challenge those who viciously defend men accused of any form of abuse. Human beings are dynamic. There are multiple sides and pieces to every one of us. Perhaps your friend was passionate about feeding the poor or donating to charity. Perhaps your friend was a devoted son, brother, and friend. Maybe your friend was all of these things, and maybe he was an abuser, too.