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Home > What is Abuse? > About the Abusers

About the Abusers:

Although both men and women can become abusive, we work mainly with women abused by men. So here, we will refer to male abusers.

Abusers abuse because they want to and they can. They think that they have the right to do it. They abuse because they may lack control over their own life, and to feel better, to ease this insecurity, they attempt to control their partners. Abuse is a choice not an accident.

Victims usually try to please the abuser thinking they can stop the abuse. Unfortunately, they can’t because in order to stop the abuse, it is the abuser’s responsibility to change his behavior. First of all, the abuser has to recognize that he is an abuser and he must be willing to work on changing the abusive behavior. The reality is that most abusers do not acknowledge that they are abusers; therefore, the abuse continues.

Abusers have different backgrounds; they come from different races, religions, socioeconomic classes, countries, educational levels, and occupations. They often appear charming to outsiders, and even to their partners at the beginning. Once in a relationship they change and only outsiders continue seeing them as charming.

Why abusers abuse:

Abuse is a learned behavior; therefore, it can be learned by experience and observation but it also can be unlearned. Abusers may have learned the behavior by:

  • Being exposed to family violence: When children are witnesses of violence in the family they learn to respond to their anger or frustration with violence. They also learn how to manipulate people to obtain what they want. If they do not have any positive role models they may copy the negative behaviors they see and, later on, act it out in their adult relationships. For example: if the abuser is the father the boys learn to be abusers and girls to be victims.

  • Rigid gender roles: When children see rigidity in gender roles, (i.e. women clean the house, raise the children and men make all the important decisions, set rules), they will probably use controlling behaviors with their partners when they grow up. Boys will learn to control and girls to obey.

In addition they may:

  • Fear abandonment: Due to negative experiences during childhood abusers may fear abandonment and may have the need to control their partners in their adult relationships. They may believe that if their partners are dependent on them, they will not leave them.

  • Fear authority: If they fear authority, they will not be able to confront others. For example: they may fear their boss and may feel out of control at work but they know that they can get the control back at home controlling their partner and/or children.

Characteristics of Abusers:

Abusers look and act like “normal” people in public, and if they want, they can be very charming. In public they may appear to be caring to their partner but they act very different in private! Below is a list of some behaviors that abusers display:

  • Jealousy.
  • Controlling behavior.
  • Quick involvement.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • Blaming others.
  • Hypersensitivity.
  • Close-mindedness.
  • Manipulation.
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