There are hundreds of reasons why a person might become an abuser. In many cases the abuse can go back to their family structure. For instance, if there was domestic violence or child abuse in their home, they would learn different types of violence. Another factor that can contribute into creating a domestic aggressor is how their parents taught them their social roles. For example: a man cannot cry, cannot show their feelings, and they must be tough or a woman needs to be delicate and expressive yet quiet. This creates inner dilemmas causing abusers to lash out in violence. Although, I want to note that these factors are not an excuse for abuse, simply a possible explanation.
If the aggressor grew up in a household where they witnessed abuse, they may grow up with low self-esteem, codependent behavior, lack of coping skills, and mental issues (domestic shelters, 2014). Most abusers start by controlling in small ways and their control upon the victim escalates over time. For an aggressor, it is all about power and control. Generally, aggressors start off being charming, kind and trustful. They push for quick relationships and engagements with excuses like, “I cannot live without you.” The victimizer becomes obsessive over the victim. To them, other men or women are a threat to his/her relationship. For example, they believe other people looking at their partner is a problem. Not only that, but the abuser manipulates their loved ones completely. Checking the car’s mileage, tracking their phone calls, constantly checking the bank statements, putting a tracking device on the victim’s phone or car, even having access to the victim’s social media accounts. Abusers tend to exhibit narcissistic qualities, everything has to revolve around them. The victimizer sees their partner as beneath them, only they can be their controller; this need for control is so immense, they will isolate the victim by not allowing them to see their family or friends. Aggressors are moody – in one moment they are happy and in the other they are mad. This type of person is never satisfied by their victim, and are always humiliating them. Another trait is that abusers will always swear to never physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, and mentally abuse their victim again after committing violence upon them. They will shower the victim with gifts, dates, and lovely statements in order to get them back (Petherbridge, 2016).
Here is how an aggressor described their behavior towards their victim: “We were at a restaurant in Bangor and he just said a slew of horrible things to me about the way he treats her. That if she doesn’t follow the rules, she knows what’s going to happen and she has already suffered, but it keeps her in line and things like that and she was just shrinking and shrinking in the chair. I was just sitting there with my mouth wide open and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And then he says very casually, excuse me I have to go to the restroom” (MCEDV, 2014). This example shows how distorted the aggressor’s reality is, and their lack of self-efficacy and poor coping skills.
Now let’s turn our focus to the victim’s profile. In most cases the victim has lived some type of abuse earlier in their life. Not only that, but victims tend to have a low opinion of themselves. They try to please the aggressor and feel a strong sense of guilt. Additionally, they will pin the blame of the violence on themselves. It is important to understand that there is no specific type of person that will fall victim to domestic violence, but there is certain characteristic the most victims share. Some of the characteristics are: low self-esteem, emotional or economic dependency, depression, stress disorders, beliefs in stereotypical gender roles, lived a life of abuse and have suffered trauma (Hidden Hurt, 2015). These characteristics affect the victims in many ways. For instance, having low self-esteem allows the individual to underestimate their abilities and this will only benefit the aggressor as it makes it easier for them to control the victim. Beliefs in stereotypical roles play a big role on the victim, especially on women because they will think that they are less and fragile. Sadly, victims will minimize the seriousness of their situation, so they will not seek for help and medical attention. They may also not divulge to their friends, family, and work colleagues about the domestic violence they are experiencing due to shame. Victims know their abuser and may try to change their words and behaviors to minimize the abuse. They may internalize and accept their submissive role, giving an advantage to their potential abusers (Psychological Taboo, 2009). In some cases, the victim is lacking economic resources, thereby becoming dependent on the aggressor. Unfortunately, many victims believe in the illusion that they can change the abuser with love and patience (Psychological Taboo, 2009). This only aggravates the situation because they will stay in the relationship even after the first cycle of abuse.
Here is how a victim described their thoughts and behaviours with their aggressor: “I was 16 and I thought I was in love. There was a lot going on in my life and I met this guy and we’ve seen each other and I thought he’d loved me. He would have people say that they had slept with me and that the baby wasn’t even his and I had been a virgin. I was not loose and I just didn’t think that was right, but I still felt that he loved me and maybe if I showed him that I loved him and I was a little bit better he would stop, but he didn’t, it just escalated” (MCDEV, 2014). This example portrays the lack of self-esteem and inability to notice that the person they love will continue to abuse them, and that love will not change an aggressor.
I personally believe that even though, domestic violence is gaining coverage, there is still too much violence amongst relationships today. There are laws against domestic violence, yet it hasn’t decreased. Why do you think it hasn’t?
Domestic Shelter. (2014). Profile of an abuser. Retrieved from: https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/faq/profile-of-an-abuser
Hidden Hurt. (2015). Abuse Victim Characteristics. Retrieved from: http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/abuse_victim_characteristics.html
Laura Petherbridge. (2016). 12 Traits of an Abuser. Retrieved from: http://www1.cbn.com/marriage/12-traits-of-an-abuser
MCEDV. (2014). Inside Domestic Violence: Power and Control (full). Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WnZCLqL8TA
Psychological Taboo. (2009). A profile of the victims of domestic abuse. Retrieved from: https://rika01izumi.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/a-profile-of-the-victims-of-domestic-abuse/