Profiles of Abuse
Violence is a learned behavior. When kids get hit, they learn something in that process. They learn that when frustrated or angry, it is okay to take out that frustration and anger on someone else. They learn that violence is okay. Violence then becomes a learned behavior.
The Causes of Anger and Frustration
- Power by authority - This is when others follow your request willingly. It is also referred to as "legitimized power." (i.e. your boss asks you to get a file - and you do it willingly)
Power through coercion - This is when force is used in order to get
people to do what you want them to do. There are any number of ways that force can be
- Physical force
- Manipulating raising ones' voice
- Abusing ones' authority, (remember Jonestown, Guyana?)
- Traditional authority - i.e. people learning from their leaders.
- Charismatic - following/obeying someone because they have a manipulative and captivating personality.
- Legal/Rational - i.e. bureaucratically imposed rules.
- Respect you as a person
- Respect your status
- Respect the rewards you offer
- Respect the punishments you offer
Profile of a Batterer
- Doesn't show feelings or emotions easily (except anger)
- Jealous and possessive
- Into "macho things" like guns & 4x4 trucks
- Has a high need for aggression (in a car, boxing, sports, etc.)
- Corporate go-getter (salesman of the month etc.)
- Has a high need for dominance - may try to control everything or everyone
- Ranks high on masculinity scale on psychological testing
- Minimizes seriousness of abuse
- May have been physically abused as a child
- Learned violence as a child
- Often prone to drug and/or alcohol abuse
- May have few friends (partner may also be socially isolated due to embarrassment or because of a controlling partner)
- Socially isolated - few resources available for support, help, or intervention.
- Emotionally dependent on the partner - goes to any length to keep her/him from leaving.
- Will often become remorseful after abusing partner - giving gifts, begging for forgiveness, promising never to do it again
- Blames anger on the partner or accuses them of attacking or provoking him/her
- Has difficulty taking responsibility for self - may blame actions on others, society, alcohol, work, partner, etc.
Profile of a Battered Partner
The victim may have the fantasy that they can resolve the problem.
"He won't hit me anymore if I work harder to make him happy."
"If I stop nagging he won't hit me anymore."The batterer will play into this fantasy by promising that s/he won't hit any more if s/he will just...?
- Is usually a placator - wants to please everyone - especially the abuser.
- Is obedient and compliant but at times feels defiant.
- Avoids confrontation.
- Is likely to have been abused as a child.
- Internalizes the role of victim (i.e. "I'm helpless").
- Confiding in parents or friends about the abuse may result in them encouraging the battered person to "stick-it-out," (They are afraid others will see victim as "incompetent" which may reflect poorly on them).
- Receives little help from family. (They may say, "You must have done something to bring this on.")
- The average woman attempts to leave seven times before she is successful. Most often the victim is found by the perpetrator and talked into coming back.
- May minimize the seriousness of the situation.
- Self esteem may be so low that the victim doesn't believe that s/he can make it without the batterer.
Profile of Partner/Spouse Violence -- When Spouses Kill
- Women kill their partners to get rid of them (due to abuse, or for financial gain)
- Men kill to hold onto them - (the ultimate control over their lives - no one else will have her).
- Depression or another mental disorder
- Financial Problems
- Lying, having a secret life or addiction discovered. May have created a web of lies
- Being left (causes thoughts of revenge and control)
- Believes that the world will discover his "inadequacies" because his facade is crumbling
- Has a "mask" that is worn in public, that is different than his darker, private behavior
- Uses/Abuses alcohol and/or drugs
- Socially isolated
- Guns or weapons are in the house
- Has said things like "I'm going to kill you," (may be warning you that they plan to follow through).
Especially for Teens - Profile of an Abusive Partner
- He likes to play rough or wrestle with you
- He tries to tell you what you should/should not wear
- He tells you who you can/cannot be friends with - controlling
- He checks up on you often to see where you are or what you are doing or expects you to check in with him frequently
- He is aggressive in other areas of his life or with other people
- He has explosive outbursts or a "Jeckel/Hyde" personality
- He thinks pushing (even in "fun") is not abuse
- The girl feels that she can not do any better than him
- He does not take responsibility for his own words or actions
- He blames the partner for making him say or do those things
- Other people "made" him get angry
- He minimizes and rationalizes his abusive actions and words - "it wasn't that bad," or "she deserved it."
- He tries to monopolize your life (expecting you to spend all your time with him)
- Says, "I love you" very early on in the relationship
- Confuses jealousy/possessiveness with love
- Often has an abusive home-life
- May be into drugs/alcohol
- Tries to isolate girl from friends and family
- He calls her sexist or derogatory names, as if they were terms of endearment
- Threatens to hurt himself or you if he doesn't get his way or if you talk about leaving him.
Profile of an Incest/Sexual Abuser
75% of all child molesters are people the child already knows. Nearly all of them rationalize their behavior by claiming that their act has educational value or that the child wanted it. Both are, of course, totally untrue. Children are incapable of giving consent because of their premature level of cognitive ability. They are at the mercy of adults for their survival, and are therefore unequipped to protect themselves from an adult.The Sex Offender:
- May be overly interested in the sexuality of the child
- May be over protective and possessive of daughters/nieces.
- May give teenage daughters/nieces the 3rd degree after a date, accusing her of sexual activity with the boyfriend.
- Has poor impulse control.
- May have a hot-temper.
- Is conservative in political views; may have conservative sexual views.
- Has a very strong denial system and will deny sexually abusing the child, to the very last breath.
- Is apt to have a poor partner relationship. (The partner may be suspicious but will never investigate)
- May be employed where children are plentiful or active in community service where children are present
Profile of a Sexually Abused Child
Profile of a Child Abuser
- Was probably abused as a child
- Has poor impulse control
- May become aroused while hitting child
- May be self-righteous or "always right"
- May misinterpret scripture to rationalize abuse
- Is more interested in inflicting his/her anger onto child, than helping the child learn a life lesson, (i.e. abusive-punishment instead of discipline)
- Has no empathy for the child (cannot put themselves in the emotional place of the child)
- Sees child as a possession/object and is self righteous about it. (i.e. "This is MY son.")
- Has unrealistic expectations of the child - especially age inappropriate expectations, (i.e. believes it is OK to leave 8-year-old alone at home)
The Abused Child
- Acting out at school - the school bully
- Acting out at home - aggressive behaviors including violence towards siblings possessions or pets.
- Hits, sassy, bites. Child may equate love with abuse, and will act in a way that provokes others to hurt them.
- Destruction of property, arson, vandalism, truancy etc.
- Extreme Tantrums
- Verbally abusive
- Angry, hateful, negative attitude
- Tries to make people angry at them, (i.e. pushing your buttons)
- May hurt self or engage in potentially self destructive activities to induce pain (due to association of pain with love)
- Resort to self mutilation (making little nicks on arms or wrists)
- Become withdrawn and/or socially isolated.
- Experience regressive behavior or act infantile.
May exhibit symptoms of depression:
- Doesn't want to socialize
- Somatisizes, pain, headaches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache etc.
- Doesn't want to play outside or do usual activities.
- May develop an eating disorder
- May develop physical blocks - psychoanesthitizing part of the body that had abuse (i.e. loosing feeling in an arm for a period of time).
- Dissociation - during abuse, (imagines that they are floating outside of their body) If abuse is ongoing this form of protection may become pathological and remain a problem throughout their life.
- May develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, or dissociative disorder.
- In any case, abuse can lead to a myriad of mental illnesses later in life.
Types of Abuse
Adults Abused as Children
Many adults abused as children have blocked out the memories of abuse. Often people remember but have difficulty admitting it was abuse. This is often due to feelings of guilt or inappropriate responsibility for the abuse.
As adults they may perpetuate their pain and become abusers themselves. When this happens, they are likely to "rationalize or minimize" their childhood abuse so that they don't have to take responsibility for the abuse they are now inflicting on others. They may say "My dad beat me with a switch, but only when I deserved it."
Children never deserve to be abused!
Adults abused as children carry the emotional bruises with them throughout their life. This may become manifest in many ways:
- Low self-esteem
- Violent or destructive tendencies
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Troubled marriages
- Problems raising children
- Problems at work
- Thoughts of suicide
- Eating disorders
- Sexual problems
- Sleep disturbance
- May have night terrors
- Prone to panic attacks
- May have "survivors guilt" - Feels guilt for doing what s/he had to do to survive
- May experience external stimuli as triggers
- May develop phobias related to trauma
- More likely to experience repeated traumas throughout their life
- May experience feelings of being separated from their body (dissociation)
- General anxiety
- May experience flashbacks
- May have memory gaps
Those who had a supportive parent who intervened, or to whom they turned after the trauma, are less likely to develop dysfunctional life-patterns as adults. Those who had an overall, positive family experience (no secrets, no abuse etc.) are less likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those who, as adults are with an exceptionally gentle partner are less likely to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.