Am I an abuser?

Discussion in 'Domestic Abuse' started by BlackPegasus, May 9, 2006.

  1. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    I've seen a lot of threads regarding the symptoms of someone who is abused but we have ignored one very significant bit of information. How to recognize if we ourselves are abusers. Sometimes when we have emotinal problems ourselves we do not realize the toll our actions and words take on others. However at some point the pattern has to stop and we need to do that with ourselves. So I'm going to add some links on the topic here from the experts and hopefully others can add some as well.


    try these

    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2006
  2. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    A look inside the mind of an abuser...

    Abusive people typically think they are unique, so different from other people that they don't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. But actually, abusers have a lot in common with one another and share a great many thinking patterns and behaviors. These may include:

    Success Fantasies: The abuser believes in fantasies of being rich, famous, or extremely successful in other terms if only other people weren't holding her back. They're blocking the way makes the abuser feel justified in getting back at them, including through abuse. The abuser also puts other people down as a way of building their self up.

    Blaming: The abuser shifts responsibility for certain actions to others, which allows the abuser to be angry at the other person for "causing" the behavior. For example: "If you would stay out of it while I am disciplining the kids, I could do it without hitting them."

    Excuse Making: Instead of accepting responsibility for certain actions, the abuser tries to justify their behavior with excuses. For example, "My parents never loved me," or "My parents beat me," or "I had a bad day, and when I walked in and saw this mess I lost my temper," or "I couldn't let him talk to me that way, there was nothing else I could do."

    Redefining: The abuser redefines the situation so that the problem lies not with the abuser but with others or the outside world. For example: The abuser doesn't come home at 6 p.m. for dinner as prearranged; he or she comes home at 4 a.m. The abuser says, "You're an awful cook anyway. Why should I come home to eat this stuff? I bet the kids wouldn't even eat it."

    Making Fools of Others: The abuser combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his reactions, and provoking a fight between or among others. She may try to charm the person she wants to manipulate, pretending a great deal of interest in and concern for that person in order to get on his good side.

    Assuming: Abusive people often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they "know" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example: "I knew you'd be mad because I went out for a drink after work, so I figured I might as well stay out and enjoy myself."

    Emotional Dependence: Abusive individuals are usually very emotionally dependent on their spouse. The result of their inner rage at being dependent means that the abuser acts in controlling ways to exert power and to deny their own weakness.

    One major symptom is strong jealousy and possessive actions, normally sexual in nature. The abuser will spend a great deal of time monitoring their spouses activities. The abuser lacks supportive relationships. Another sign of dependence is the effect of what happens when the abused person leaves the home because of the abuse. It is common for the abuser to make extraordinary attempts to persuade them to return.

    Lying: The abuser manipulates by lying to control information. The abuser may also use lying to keep other people, including the victim, off-balance psychologically. For example: The abuser tries to appear truthful when actually lying, or tries to look deceitful when actually telling the truth.

    Rigid Application of Traditional Sex Attitudes: Abusive spouses tend to have more inflexible beliefs about roles and functions of their spouses in the marriage. The wife may expect the husband to over fulfill all the financial needs and household/parenting chores.

    Drama and Excitement: Abusive people have trouble experiencing close, satisfying relationships. They substitute drama and excitement for closeness. Abusive people find it exciting to watch others become angry, get into fights, or fall into a general uproar. Often, they'll use a combination of tactics to set up an exciting situation.

    Closed Channel: The abusive person does not tell much about personal details and real feelings. The abuser is not open to new information about herself either, such as someone else's thoughts about them personally. The abuser is secretive, close-minded and self-righteous. Abusers believe they are right in all situations.

    Ownership: The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, the abuser believes that anything that is wanted should be owned, and that the abuser can do as wanted with anything that is hers. The same attitude applies to people. It justifies controlling others' behavior, physically hurting them and taking things that belong to them.

    Poor Anger Management: Individuals who have experienced a violent and abusive childhood are more likely to grow up and become spouse abusers. A person who sees violence as the primary method for settling differences as a child is not going to have very many alternate ways available to channel anger. A person without an everyday outlet for anger risks exploding toward the people closest to them.

    Minimizing: The abuser ducks responsibility for abusive actions by trying to make them seem less important than they are. For example: "I didn't hit you that hard", or "I only hit one of the kids. I could have done them all."

    Fragmentation: The abuser usually keeps the abusive behavior separate from the rest of her life. The separation is physical; for example, the abuser will beat up family members but not people outside the home. The separation is also psychological; for example, it is not uncommon for an abuser to attend church Sunday morning and beat the victim Sunday night. The abuser sees no inconsistency in this behavior and feels justified in it.

    Above the Rules: As mentioned earlier, abusers generally believe they are better than other people and so don't have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too. Each inmate usually believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, she is not. An abuser shows above-the-rules thinking in saying, "I don't need counseling. Nobody knows as much about my life as I do. I can handle my life without help from anybody.

    Self-glorification: The abuser usually thinks of herself as strong, superior, independent and self-sufficient. When anyone says or does anything that doesn't fit this glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.

    Inability to express feelings with words: This type of person is rarely capable of true intimacy and may feel very threatened by the prospect of being open and vulnerable. Particularly when frustrated, the abusive person expects instant gratification from their spouse who is expected to "read" their mind and "know" what their mate wants. When the mate doesn't know what is expected the wife may interpret this as meaning they do not really love them. Therefore with an abusive individual, rejection = violence.

    Vagueness: Thinking and speaking vaguely lets the abuser avoid responsibility. Example: "I'm late because I had to do something on the way home."

    About Abusers

    Batterers tend to be preoccupied with a "macho" ideal of womanhood. They feel a need to dominate and control men and often expect it as their right and privilege. They may tend to associate some feminine qualities with weakness and fear intimacy as making them vulnerable.

    They are frequently characterized as lacking in assertive communication skills and appearing alternatively passive or aggressive in nature. They are more inclined to resolve problems and emotions through violence, as the male sex role stereotype would suggest. This tendency tends to add to the stress many batterers create for themselves and their families.

    Batterers have higher levels of hostility than non-batterers. Their range of emotions tend to be reduced to anger, which in-turn is expressed primarily through violent behavior similar to the same behavior sanctioned by various macho-male subcultures. Emotional tensions are typically suppressed until they finally "explode."

    Despite the bravado that many batterers display, they characteristically suffer from lower self-esteem than non-batterers. They often feel that they have not lived up to the feminine sex role stereotype and consequently overcompensate with hyper-feminine behavior. They become emotionally dependent on their partners and consequently become threatened by the possibility of their departure. This is often evident in excessive jealousy and possessiveness.

    Batterers have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. The alcohol acts as a uninhibitor, intensifying abusive incidents, but it does not "cause" the abuse. Many batterers are abusive with or without alcohol and continue their violence even after "drying out." Some experts consider alcohol and drug abuse to act as a sedative for the emotional distress most batterers bear in response to their abusive childhood, sense of inadequacy, and poor communication skills.

    The majority of female batterers have experienced or witnessed childhood violence that has left them with low self-esteem, poor role models, and sometimes traumatized. Very much like the alcoholic, abusers deny there is a problem and refuse to accept responsibility for their abusive behaviour. She blames everyone else for making her angry, thereby excusing her actions.

    "In violence we forget who we are." - Mary McCarthy
  3. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    If we can be honest the below article can allow us to look for signs in ourself - Mia

    Characteristics That Might Identify A Potential Abuser

    FAMILY HISTORY: Has your partner reported being physically or psychologically abused as a child? Was your partner's mother abused? A family history of abuse is a significant predictor for a person to become an abuser as an adult.

    JEALOUSY: Is your partner jealous when you spend time with friends and/or family? Does your partner constantly accuse you of flirting with others? Does he call you frequently during the day? An abuser will probably tell you that jealousy is a sign of love and concern. In fact, jealousy has nothing to do with love; it's a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust.

    CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR: Does your partner become angry when you don't listen to his advice? Is your partner angry when you are a little late coming home from an appointment or shopping? Does he control all the money? Do you have to ask permission to leave the house? Are you afraid when your partner becomes angry with you? At first, abusers will explain that controlling behavior is motivated by their concern for their partner's safety or the need to make good decisions. Rather than expressing concern for the partner, controlling behavior shows a deep lack of respect for the partner. It fulfills the need of the abuser to dominate, rather than fulfil the needs of the victim.

    QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Did your partner "sweep you off your feet?" Did your partner proclaim his or her love for you before the two of you had spent enough time together to get to know each other? Did your partner pressure you to commit to the relationship before you felt ready to do so? Were you made to feel guilty by your partner if you wanted to slow down your involvement with him? Many abused people dated or knew their abusers for less than six months before they were married, engaged, or living together.

    ISOLATION: Is being with your family and friends "more trouble than it's worth" because of your partner's jealousy? Does he constantly criticize the people who support you or try to undermine your trust in them? Does he try to keep you from going to work or school? An abusive person will try to cut the victim off from all resources, especially friends and family. An abuser knows that the more contact a victim has with others, the more likely she is to defy the abuser or to leave.

    BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS: Does your partner blame you for his mistakes? Does your partner feel life is unfair and someone is out to get him? Does your partner find it difficult to take responsibility for his actions? Abusive people do not hold themselves accountable for the abuse they commit, and rarely take responsibility for their actions. After being blamed and criticized for everything she does, the victim will eventually internalize these false messages and begin to believe that she is responsible for ending the abuse that is committed against her.

    HYPERSENSITIVITY: Does your partner perceive slight setbacks as personal attacks? Is your partner easily insulted? Does your partner lose his temper frequently and more easily than seems normal? Abusers typically have low self-esteem. Their self-confidence may be so fragile that even constructive criticism is seen as a threat.

    CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN: Does your partner seem insensitive to the pain and suffering of animals? Does he expect children to do things beyond their ability? Does he tease children until they cry? Insensitivity to children or animals is common in abusers because abusive people are generally not considerate of the feelings of others. 60% of men who beat the women they are with also beat their children.

    "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE IN SEX: Does your partner like to throw you down and/or hold you down during sex? Does he want to act out fantasies during sex in which you are helpless? Does he ever try to manipulate you into having sex when you are not in the mood by using sulking or anger? Abusers enjoy having power over their partners, and sex is one way in which they can feel in control. Many abusers find the idea of rape exciting. Rape, like abuse, is about power over another person.

    VERBAL ABUSE: Does your partner say things that are cruel and hurtful? Does he degrade you or put you down? Does he tell you that you are stupid, lazy or clumsy? The abuser wants his partner to be dependent on him/her. He will try to undermine his partner's self-confidence by putting her down, making fun of her, demeaning her, embarrassing her in public, and/or calling her names.

    RIGID SEX ROLES: Does your partner expect you to serve him? Does he say that you must obey him in all things because you are a woman? Does he/she insist that you stay at home and discourage you from working? Abusers sometimes see women as inferior to men and unable to function as a whole person without a relationship. They accept this reasoning as an excuse to abuse and dominate their partners.

    DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: Are you confused by your abuser's "sudden" changes in mood? Is he extremely moody and prone to unexpected explosions of anger? Many women think that their abuser has some special mental problem because one minute he's nice, and the next he's exploding. Moodiness is typical of batterers, and it is related to other characteristics of abusers, such as hypersensitivity.

    PAST BATTERING: Has your abuser admitted to hitting women in the past? He may say that they "made him do it." Have you heard from relatives or an ex-spouse/girlfriend that your partner is abusive? Situational circumstances do not make a person an abuser. A batterer is likely to beat any woman he is with if the relationship lasts long enough for the violence to begin.

    BREAKING OR STRIKING OBJECTS: Does your partner destroy objects you value? Does he beat the table with his fists or throw objects around or near you? The abuser may use this behavior to punish his partner, but it is also intended to frighten the woman into submission. The abuser feels that he has the "right" to punish or frighten his partner.

    ANY FORCE OR THREAT OF FORCE DURING AN ARGUMENT: Does your partner ever physically restrain you from leaving a room, push you or shove you? Does he ever hold you down or hold you against the wall saying something like "You are going to listen to me"? This is not only a form of control, it is an indication that your partner is willing to use force to maintain control over you. In abusive relationships, violence frequently escalates. It may begin with a push or a slap, but it can become much more violent!


    Source: Surviving Domestic Violence: A Resource Book for Avalon Clients.

    Back to the main page.
  4. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    I'm looking for any information on emotional abuse in particular. If anyone has anything please post it -Mia
  5. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member


    Are you never "good enough"?

    by Pamela Brewer MSW, Ph.D., LCSW-C

    Are you anxious and worried about what will happen when you and your significant other are together? Apart?

    Are you the subject of name-calling?

    Are you the subject of yelling?

    Are you the subject of screaming?

    Are you the subject of threats?

    While these are not all the examples of emotional abuse - they are intended to provide you with a start off point from which to consider your own circumstance. If you determine that you have/are in an abusive relationship - you may wish seek assistance in trying to consider what you should do now. Emotionally abusive relationships can often result in a difficulty with self-advocacy. You have learned at the hands of your abuser to question your self and your value. As you move to make decisions and observations about yourself - you are likely to seek out validation for much of what you think and do.

    This is an option you have. You do not have to do this - but you can choose to do this. The most important thing is that you allow yourself the gift and the right to only be in environments that are respectful of you.

    One of the most difficult things about emotional abuse is what it "looks" like. Unlike physical abuse - there are no visible scars. Unlike sexual assault - it can be difficult to describe or explain. Unlike verbal abuse - it can sometimes be difficult to know what is happening. But just like all abuse - it hurts. It hurts a lot - it can hurt a long time - and it can cause a great deal of damage to the self-esteem. Emotional abuse can almost seem like the mystery hurt - once in it - you can become so much consumed with it and subsumed by it - that you do not even know what is happening. You can certainly have a hard time naming the experience. Naming the behavior is the first critical step to escaping the behavior - and the trap of low self-regard and hopelessness.

    Just what is emotional abuse? It is the ongoing emotional environment created by your abuser for the purposes of control. It's sort of like a search and destroy mission. In this war, the abuser experiences your self-esteem, your individual self, your energy, your ability to feel and question and want and need and be.... as the enemy. Your ability to be separate from your partner - an alive and thinking human being - is what your abuser most fears. At least, that's what it feels like to your abuser. Unable to tolerate you as you are - your abuser sets out to create an artificial self that he/she is then able to mold. The undertow in this dynamic is the abusers low regard for him/her self. His unspoken - intolerable fear the she/he is not "good enough". You are taught to feel and believe all those things the abuser was taught to feel about him/her self.

    You become the walking, talking embodiment of fear, anxiety and remorse that she/he has struggled with for much of her/his life.

    Here are just a few of the "lessons" an emotionally abusive person can teach:

    You are always wrong.

    Everything is your fault.

    You are of no value in the relationship.

    You are intrusive when you ask how your partner's day was.

    You are "suspicious" when you question why you have not heard from him/her in the way you usually communicate.

    You are so stupid you cannot even _________________ (fill in the blanks).

    You are fat, you are stupid, you are ugly, no one wants you, no one likes you.

    You cannot handle life without your partner.

    You cannot try anything new.

    You would not be anyone if you did not have your partner.

    You are nagging or stupid if you disagree.

    The affair he/she is having is your fault.

    All types of abuse leave you frightened. The fear may not be limited to a fear for physical safety. The fear can more amorphous. You know you do not feel strong. You do not feel as if you can take risks. You do not even believe it is acceptable to try.

    The abuse can start slowly, and perhaps not even feel like abuse - just a simple "it's all your fault" here and there. Be warned that emotional abuse is often the precursor to more.

    Consider this example "I've been married for 26 years ... at first it wasn't really anything but as the years progress ... everything is my fault ... conversation is 0. K. if I can figure out what kind of answer he is looking for ... he has become increasingly physical ... pinning my arms .. to the point of bruises ... pulling my hair ... making me do things that cause me to cry... it only seems to increase his excitement ... sometimes I am really scared because I am afraid that he will break my neck one day."

    This writer tells, unfortunately, a classic tale of emotional abuse, then physical abuse, and then sexual abuse. And typically the cycle is that the abuser, at some point, apologizes for the abuse. Then comes the honeymoon period during which things are relatively fine - and then the abuse starts all over again.

    People who have grown up in abusive homes can easily duplicate those experiences in their adult lives. If you grew up in an abusive family, you know how frightening and hurtful the experience was. Do all you can to protect yourself and your children in the way that your family did not or could not when you were a child. If you were the victim of abuse as a child - you know only too well how much that hurt - you do not have to reenact your childhood pain in your adult life. You do not have to treat others as you were treated.

    Typically abuse, once begun, only escalates. Unless the abuser accepts responsibility for his/her behavior and seeks professional help - it is quite likely the abuse will continue and worsen.

    However, if the abused person demands that the abuser participate in counseling or else - even if the abuser agrees to the counseling, it is likely to be short lived. The abuser will be able to benefit from counseling when the abuser believes and acknowledges that counseling is critical to recovery. Why? Until the abuser owns the behavior and his/her obligation to end the abuse, the behavior continues. Sometimes the courts demand counseling. Sometimes the legal weight of mandated counseling does have an effect. Sometimes the awareness that a loved one will leave the relationship in one way or another will jolt the abuser into an acceptance that the behavior must stop. And sometimes not.

    "My husband is a very abusive person, We have been married for eight years now and it doesn't get any better and it doesn't improve. ... He calls me a nut, humiliates me in front of my children". The emotional abuse, indeed, so often leads to escalating abuse and feelings of hopelessness.

    " I could divorce him, but I can not afford to give up my current lifestyle" When the "current lifestyle" includes violence of any kind - emotional, physical, sexual, verbal - you can not afford not to look for healthier alternatives.

    There is help. There is support. No one deserves to be frightened, terrorized or helped to feel hopeless and helpless about themselves and their lives.

    When you find yourself climbing out of the fog, tentatively at first - or perhaps with a rush of energy long buried, you begin to notice that all the things your abusive partner said you could not do - you can do! You can survive! Do try to access the many sources of help available to you ... the bookstore and library are good beginning resources.

    Here are a few more:

    National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence 1-800-222-2000

    National Resource Center on Domestic Violence 1-800-537-2238

    National Women's Resource Center - 1-800-354-8824

    As with all the commentaries/responses you read on MyNDTALK, you are urged to use this as a beginning point. If you are seeing a medical/mental health professional and you believe this commentary touches on your life in some past or current way - please pursue your exploration in the caring and supportive environment provided by the person with whom you are working. If you are not working with a professional and believe this commentary has meaning for you, now is the time to access resources.


    © Copyright 1999 - 2006 by PAMELA B. BREWER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    You might also try the following link - Mia
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2006
  6. kireira

    kireira Guest

    I just want to thank you for all the information you posted. It was very informative.

    As a victim of mental, physical and sexual abuse by several people, I will not say much other than the information is out there and people do need to take heed.
  7. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    I've updated my first post with a couple of links for those already reading.

  8. ~CazzaAngel~

    ~CazzaAngel~ Staff Alumni

    Thank You sweetheart, that's great information, must have taken you a long time.
    You are so helpful and caring, you are great, you help people and help people.
    Hopefuly someday I can help you. ;) :hug:

    love ya

  9. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    You have helped me so much. We've spoken on the phone and it is so nice having someone to connect to like that. You've been a friend to me and that makes me very happy. Infact it helped me through last night knwoing that if things got too bad I could give you a call. And you can do the same. Besides looks like you're helping a lot of people here yourself. :hug:

  10. gentlelady

    gentlelady Staff Alumni

    Thanks Mia. So many things I recognize here. things I don't want to admit were happeneing to me.
  11. ~CazzaAngel~

    ~CazzaAngel~ Staff Alumni

    well this is what my husband fits. :unsure:
  12. ~CazzaAngel~

    ~CazzaAngel~ Staff Alumni

    has anyone read the ones my husband fits? I dunno, someone say something please.

    :unsure: :sad:
  13. immure

    immure Account Closed

    sounds like they are all symptoms aswell.
  14. BlackPegasus

    BlackPegasus Well-Known Member

    I recognize quite a few of these in regards to how I was treated but over the past two years I have also worked on a couple of them I was doing myself as far as emotional abuse. I have grown a lot just by being aware of my actions more. I think we can all be emotionally abusive at times, especially when we are stressed or insecure. I hope it will help others to recognize these things not only in those around us but ourselves. It's helped me in a relationship where we were both being abusive to each other.

  15. ~CazzaAngel~

    ~CazzaAngel~ Staff Alumni

    But honestly, the last week has probably been the best my husbands been since we got together.

    His new meds are helping his moods, anger, hygeine, eating, he isn't vomitting anymore, and the voices calmed down and that was only a week of meds, so I think the outcome will be well, then maybe I can get back on track and start on myself again, I hope soon, I am not in a good place.

    pray for me.

  16. shadowcat

    shadowcat Well-Known Member

    There are somethings here that point to the potential abuser for me. I started counseling this past month to deal with everything. The one thing I did not want to become is like my mother. Thank you Mia!
  17. EnigmaGirl

    EnigmaGirl Member

    Can I ask why every single reference to "the abuser" in your sticky uses the term "she" and "her". I consider this irresponsible in your part.

  18. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    That's easy to answer: It doesn't.

    You're only reading the second post, which was copied from a site supporting male victims of abuse. If you look at the post directly underneath that one, it predominantly talks about female victims and male abusers.

    The rest are pretty much gender neutral.
  19. EnigmaGirl

    EnigmaGirl Member

    Oh right , I see the others now- apolologies.
  20. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    No worries. :smile: