11 Dec Why do people abuse?
There are many reasons why someone might abuse another person, but here you will read about two most common reasons.
First, people instinctively do what they know. For example, if Elana were raised by a father who routinely put her down and physically harmed her, she is most likely going to expect this in her relationships. This means she will either treat others the way her father treated her, or (gasp!) find a relationship that reminds her of how her father treated her. You see, Elana felt loved by her father, even though he often hit her and made her feel terrible about herself. Sometimes he was nice and loving and other times he hurt her both physically and emotionally. As a result, in her mind, love and abuse seemed joined at the hip. For Elana to break the cycle, she would need to become aware of the connection between how her father treated her and with whom she is choosing to have a relationship. With this new awareness she can decide how she’d like to move forward. Without awareness, she may continue to choose abusive partners.
The second reason why people might abuse is that they have difficulty managing their emotions. When people can’t manage their emotions, they are more likely to take out their anger, hurt, fear, aggression, on someone who doesn’t deserve it. (Sometimes a person might think that another person deserves to be hurt, but other solutions that are aren’t violent are a better option.)
For example, Sabrina’s older brother is mean and abusive to her. He’s so big and scary, she doesn’t know what to do. Her parents just say, “Oh, siblings always fight. That’s natural.” Overtime, Sabrina develops hurt and rage inside of her, yet she has no good method for releasing that energy. She eventually releases that energy by yelling at her dogs and cats, shoving them out of the way and even throwing the cats across the room. She is taking her hurt from her brother and displacing it (meaning putting it in a different place) on her pets.
Sabrina needs help managing her emotions, as well as help in dealing with her big brother – he needs help managing his emotions as well!! But for now let’s stay focused on Sabrina: As Sabrina develops strategies to deal with her brother, she will have less anger to manage. But when she does feel anger, she needs to have better strategies to manage it, for her pets’ sake and her own. For example, she might be able to channel her anger into sports, or journaling, or she might try meditation. (Check out stress reduction to learn more strategies and check out Anger Management to learn all about managing tough emotions.)
In sum, Sabrina’s brother was abusive. He needed help managing his emotions. However, you can see that his abuse toward his sister caused her to take out her frustration, anger, and rage onto her pets. Not only did her brother lack emotional management, she did too! Maybe they were never taught by their parents how to manage emotions, who knows? But the bottom line is, if Sabrina doesn’t get a handle on hers, she may end up taking her frustration out on a person next.
Have you ever been unsure if someone’s behavior was okay or abusive? What did that feel like?