The Evolution of the Abuser

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.

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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.

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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) .

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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.

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Dominance & Control

Dominance and control…. these are two  predominant features of an emotionally abusive relationship, and may manifest in a multitude of ways. These behaviours typically result in the victim losing their sense of self and their capacity for decision-making , whilst constantly questioning their own role in the development of their partner’s sense of insecurity.

Has your partner/abuser ever become overtly jealous and accusatory at even the most innocuous forms of attention or interaction ?

Well mine certainly did !!

This left me in a constant state of confusion, with a recurring cycle of internal criticism and wonder about what ‘I’ may have done to cause him/her to feel so threatened.

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His regular displays of jealous tantrums and control were caused by the simplest of interactions , leading to persistent accusations  varying from being praised too frequently about my cooking , to feeling that mare conversation with members of his family (who were often old enough to be my father) , was an expression or acceptance of their interest… and most importantly was an expression of overt disrespect to him. The list was endless !

I recall questioning his sanity a number of times , mainly due to his unreasonable and unfounded accusations that typically blindsided me. I was once accused of ‘staring’ at a family friend whilst our family prayed together ! He was absolutely livid … and there was no convincing him that this just simply had not occurred. I was praying ! (usually ones eyes are closed for these things!)

He also had a fixed belief that every thing I did was an open invitation for other’s expression of interest. For instance , simply brushing my hands through my hair (usually in the most unappealing manner !) , during a group conversation , was being flirtatious with his older relatives !

Things even progressed as far as him predicting that the reason for a friend (who I rarely spoke with , nor had the telephone number for) , ‘sounded strange on the phone’ and this could suggest that there was something going on between he and I. It was just exhausting !!

It was a never ending battle between being myself and managing  his insecurities and controlling behaviour. Soon , avoiding speaking with or making eye contact with others became easier than defending my character constantly and needlessly.

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As a means of control and domination , the abusive partner discourages the idea of sharing your time with others , even in the most innocuous of settings , and as such , will do whatever it takes to ensure that the victim never ‘crosses that line again’, with constant accusations , threats or jealous tantrums.

Dominance. Control. These things the unjust seek most of all. And so it its the duty of the JUST to defy dominance and to challenge control. Robert Fanney.

Has your partner/abuser ever become overtly jealous and accusatory as a means of control/ dominance ?