the Cycle of



Domestic abuse knows no boundaries. Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness, it defiantly rears its ugly head, both physically and emotionally, in the homes of the rich as well as the poor, newlyweds as well as long-married couples, Christians as well as non-Christians.

Paul Hegstrom should know. From the earliest years of his marriage, he handled his problems and frustrations the only way he knew how: with fists and fury. Talking about the problem only intensified his rage. Going into the Christian ministry didn't help either, the guilt merely magnified his despair. Facing a charge of attempted murder and a prison term, Hegstrom got the wake-up call he needed. With professional help and an intense struggle with spiritual issues, he began the lengthy process of healing and recovery.

Through a fascinating, yet thorough examination of the psychological components of various types of abuse, along with true examples from his own life and others, Hegstrom points the way back to wholeness and freedom. An invaluable aid for the man who batters, the woman who feels trapped, and the pastor, counselor, or friend who desperately want to help them both, Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them offers straight answers for those willing to overcome the cycle of violence.

[from the back cover]

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom

About the Author

Paul Hegstrom lived the first 40 years of his life not understanding the driving force that caused him to self-destruct again and again. A failed marriage that was full of violence, a second relationship that was even more violent, $20,000 worth of therapy that could not bring change--and still the rage continued. Violence, drugs, and alcohol became a way of life until the threat of a long-term jail sentence brought him to the reality that he needed help. Facing severe consequences, Paul was motivated to discover the roots of his problems and begin the healing process.

The dramatic change of outlook in his life led Paul to take steps to help thousands of families facing the same jeopardy his suffered. Over 16,000 hours of research and 28,000 hours of facilitating domestic violence groups for women and developing a teen program were all a part of the development of the Life Skills program. In centers all around the world, the "Learning to Live, Learning to Love" program now brings help to hurting men, women, and children.

In addition, Paul remarried his first wife over 15 years ago, and the second marriage has been free of emotional and physical abuse since its beginning. Paul and Judy Hegstrom live in Aurora, Colorado.

[from the soft bound edition]

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments   7
1. Background   9
2. The Wide Range of Domestic Violence  25
3. Identifying Abuse  43
4. Driven by the Wounds  59
5. The Reactive Lifestyle  73
6. Shame, Guilt, and Anger  85
7. Building Healthy Relationships  97
For Reflection 111
Notes 139
Bibliography 141

[from the soft bound edition]


"Family Life Skills [Hegstrom's organization] is making a real difference in the lives of countless families in our communities."

--John C. Piland,
Champaign County State's Attorney, Champaign, Illinois

"Paul and Judy Hegstrom's book has given me deeper insight into the issue of domestic violence in the time it took to read the book than in 25 years of pastoral ministry. A must-read for those working with families."

--Tim Stearman,
Senior Pastor, Denver First Church of the Nazarene

[from the back cover]

Read more reviews of this book on the website:
Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them on


Emotional abuse happens when a man puts a woman down and makes her feel bad about herself. He might call her names. He could try to make her think she's crazy. He plays mind games with her. His behaviors eventually control her life, perhaps to the point that she's not able to have friends.

At first his control may have seemed like genuine concern. If a woman comes from a family in which her emotional needs were not met, she may be vulnerable. A man comes into her life and he wants to get involved. He might make a car payment for her, or perhaps he buys her a piece of furniture. He calls her several times a day at work, and she feels for the first time there is somebody who really loves her. She doesn't recognize the symptoms of a controlling man who is immature and has the potential to abuse her. Because of the neglect in her family of origin, she sees all this attention as love. She sees it as a connection. She sees it as a blessing. It feels great to have somebody care about her bills, about where she lives, about her having a piece of furniture, enough about her to send her flowers or to give her $50.

Then they marry, and she can't even have $3 to purchase a personal item or two. It's all part of the game. The moment he has her secured (that is, they marry or move in together or have sex), he "owns" her. He changes. What brought her into that relationship felt like love and concern but becomes the very curse she can't get away from. He makes her feel like a hostage, giving her affection only under certain conditions. He denies her of her physical needs, such as food and sleep, and deprives her of any identity development or autonomy. He demands that she meet his every need and satisfy his every whim.

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

pages 32-33

Common Characteristics of
Children in Violent Homes
  • Children who grow up in violent homes may suffer from loss of sleep (many attacks happen when they are in bed), and they may not be receiving adequate nutrition or nurturing. These losses may contribute to physical, emotional/psychological, and cognitive delays in their development. They may feel helpless in the face of attacks against a parent that they cannot stop or lessen. These feelings of powerlessness often lead to depression.
  • Children of domestic violence are found in all socioeconomic levels and in all educational, racial, and age groups.
  • They exhibit a combination of limited tolerance, poor impulse control, and martyr-like long-suffering.
  • They experience depression, considerable stress and psychosomatic disorders (bodily disorders induced by mental or emotional disturbances), excessive school absenteeism, and have hidden symptoms of characterological dysfunction (withdrawal, low self-esteem, hyperactivity, and so on).
  • They are economically and emotionally dependent. They are a high risk for substance abuse, sexual acting out, running away, isolation, loneliness, and fear.
  • They have a very shaky definition of self, grappling with the childlike responses of their parents as models.
  • They have low self-esteem.
  • They experience a mixture of hope and depression -- depression that there is no way out. Peer groups, if available, can be their most important contact.
  • They may exhibit increased social isolation with their peers.
  • They may "bargain" their behavior with their parents, "proving" themselves as do their mothers.

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

pages 45-46

The shame-based person fears punishment, abandonment, and rejection. He or she feels overly responsible for circumstances. Shame is the by-product of the way a person is treated. "I was treated as though I were worthless; therefore I must be worthless" might be the thought. Part of the healing process is to recognize the shame as a truth of the past but not as a truth about the person today. We live in a shame-based society. The shame produced by the wounds of childhood can be processed to guilt, just as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Discovering the sources of our shame is the beginning of that transformation. Consider the following steps that caaan start you on your journey to freedom:

  • Identify the wounds of childhood--almost everyone has something in childhood that hurts. It can range from minor things on the surface to major deep pain or wounds. We can't always remember them clearly. If the memory has faded, don't go digging into the past. The memories will surface when you're ready and able to process them.
  • Identify the reactive behaviors that undermine our values and perpetuate the shame. We can tell by our reactive behaviors if there's been a wound in childhood. We may have lost the memory consciously, but the wound will unconsciously drive our behavior. I started recovery without the memories coming to the surface by identifying the behaviors and changing them. It is a process.
  • Recognize that with the shame there comes pain. This is normal. Journal or log the feelings you've associated with each incident. Stay with the process. The pain will eventually diminish, and you'll see light at the end of the tunnel.
  • If the pain or the fear associated with the incidents is too much to handle, get help. A trusted friend, family member, or your pastor may or may not be the place to start. There should be no shame in seeking professional help.
  • Focus on growth, which develops maturity of character. If we are arrested in our development, we have never developed our core and character. Our personality is a pseudopersonality, and much behavior modification will not work long-term. As we focus on the development of character, we grow from the inside, and behavior changes over time. Then the change can be permanent.
  • Become future-oriented instead of dwelling on the past. Choose to live in the solution instead of perpetuating the problem. Look forward. As we mature we can take control of our own life and let go of situations, circumstances, and other people. We can achieve our dreams, goals, and visions.
  • Determine to do everything you can to stop the behaviors connected to the wound. When we identify a negative behavior, look for the opposite behavior and focus on change. Do not try to change everything at once. Time is our friend. It took many of us years to get this way, and the recovery process might take the rest of our lives. But it does get progressively better.

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

pages 86-88

[from the soft bound edition]

Read more about this book on the website:
Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them on

Angry Men
and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of
Physical and Emotional Abuse

Paul Hegstrom's book
Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them:
Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse

may be purchased through

Buy Paul Hegstrom's Book

Other Books by
Paul Hegstrom

Learn more about this book also written by Paul Hegstrom:

Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain:
Understanding the Effects of Your Wounded Past

Return to Growing beyond Emotional Abuse Books

Design © 2001 by Insight Web Design
All Rights Reserved