Victims of emotional abuse often describe a sense of confusion and desperation in uncovering the cause of their maltreatment. Unfortunately , in a majority of cases , their abuser’s actions are minimized , and the victim may solely focus on the perceived emotional turmoil that the person they love is experiencing.
Often , we (victims) endure a cycle of internal interrogation , questioning ‘What did I do to hurt him/her this time?’, ‘What did I say?’, ‘Is it me?’, purely in an effort to know WHY ?
Of all my research into the emotionally abusive , one thing appears to be the recurring theme in uncovering the cause of their actions …. Abuse creates abusers.
Why does he/she do it ?
Unresolved Childhood Trauma
The behaviour of the abusive is often attributed to their childhood home environment , as well as how they perceive themselves and the outside world.
Many abusive partners have a history of unresolved trauma which has likely occurred during childhood. Early exposure to an unstable living environment , may result in a high reactivity to injury. Alongside this , a history of highly combative family relationships , may result in abusive behaviours being perceived as normative.
I believe my ex-partner was very much burdened by a past filled with emotional turmoil and repeated disappointments from those who should have been most trustworthy to him. His family dynamic was very different to mine , where he was exposed to a cycle of division and sabotage. I am sure that this has impacted his ability to trust and resulted in his tendency to test other’s loyalty constantly.
Tolerance of Emotional Injury
Another common trait of those who are emotionally abusive , is the inability to tolerate injury. In the case of men , as boys they are taught to manage their emotions by avoiding overt expression of them ….‘don’t cry’, ‘don’t look sad’ , ‘don’t look anxious ‘. Consequently, as a means of coping with their emotions , they respond to emotional pain and insult by punishing those who are deemed at fault.
The ability to tolerate emotional injuries is an important building block in the maintenance of a solid foundation in relationships , as we are all susceptible to repeated disappointments and hurt in daily life.
Fear of Loss and Failure
Emotionally abusive partners are surprisingly anxious in nature , and may have a persistent fear of impending failure , and hence seek to control their environment and relationship in order to protect themselves . This means of control is used to mask their feelings of inadequacy , depression and immense fear of losing it all.
How do they benefit ?
In an attempt to retain control , the emotionally abusive display a pattern of negative emotions , including blame , belittling , domination and constant criticism; and it is the response of the victim that provides a sense of power and importance which overthrows their sense of insecurity and fear of loss.
The most manipulative and injurious behaviours are typically uncovered when the victim of emotional abuse exhibits stability and progressive attitudes to life . In an attempt to diminish this , the abuser lashes out in a variety ways.
This was a pattern I came to recognise in my past relationship. I found that he would have unexplainable episodes of anger towards me , and this was typically during a period of self improvement (e.g. university finals , getting my drivers license) .
I specifically recall an incident when I had just completed an examination , and was disappointed by my performance ( as usual I thought I had failed ) . I had sent him a message informing him of my worries. After sending that message , I had a conversation with other students about how the exam went and a few minutes ( about 20 mins) had passed . My phone vibrated and upon answering , I was met with a stern voice ‘where are you ?’ he asked. I explained where I was and apologised for my delay in responding to his messages . He retorted sharply with ‘ Sounds like your busy’.
The day rounded up with an argument about my inconsideration of him in not responding to his messages and I was hung up on. To this day I wonder what the actual problem was.
Behaviours like these caused me to be locked into a cycle of confusion and a feeling of constantly walking on eggshells in fear of him becoming infuriated by the smallest actions.
YOU DO NOT DESERVE IT
Despite the reasoning behind a person’s tendency to be emotionally abusive , it is WRONG and it is a reflection of their own issues with themselves and are being projected onto those that love them the most.