It can be difficult to describe what abuse is and this is because the word 'Abuse' can mean different things to different people. For one person it might relate to emotional pain, for another it might involve physical pain. With there being different degrees of pain and hurt within these two forms of violence.
As a general guideline: this could be behaviour that occurs here and there, without it happening often enough to cause too many problems. Or it could be experienced to such an extreme that one's life becomes unbearable.
In this analysis I am going to be looking at what I currently believe causes abusive behaviour and the type of individual that commits abusive behaviour on a regular basis.
The Dictionary.com Definition
Here, it is described as the following:
• To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one's authority.
• To treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse.
• To abuse one's eyesight; to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
• To commit sexual assault upon: Obsolete - to deceive or mislead.
What comes to mind when I think of abusive, is compromise. When one is abused they are not being respected or treated in a humane way, they are being treated as objects. The abused person's feelings do not register to the abuser and if they are recognised, it is not enough to end the behaviour.
Empathy And Compassion
If one can't feel their own feelings, it is then a lot easier to do destructive things to another. The question is: why wouldn't the abuser have the ability to empathise or to be compassionate with another person?
It is said that the ability to empathise and to be compassionate is developed through caregivers that display the same behaviours to their children. This is also known as healthy mirroring and validation. What also happens through this process is that the child feels noticed and acknowledged, which are of paramount importance for the development of a healthy sense of self.
The child can then internalises these behaviours and as a consequence will show compassion towards themselves and they will also have the ability to empathise with others.
The Real World
This is of course what happens to a child that has caregivers who received the same or similar behaviour from their caregivers or who made up for what they didn't receive through their own development.
When this behaviour doesn't happen and the child is not mirrored and instead experiences: neglect, abandonment, rejection and invalidation from their caregivers. What is then internalised is a far cry from what the above child internalises.
The Childs basic psychological needs are then deprived and neglected. Although the child might receive food and shelter, these are not enough to create a functional human being. To be accepted, validated and loved are just as important.
And when these needs are deprived and neglected, it can lead to feelings of abandonment, rejection, suicidal tendencies and depression. This can cause one to grow up to feel powerless and invisible. And common emotions that can result from this are: anger, frustration and resentment.
And if one feels invisible they will do whatever they can to gain attention or whatever they can to not be seen. With the first being an example of an abuser and the second being an example of an abused person.
One Generation To Another
So unless one makes a conscious effort to fulfill these needs before they have children of their own, this will be behaviour that can easily be passed on to the next generation.
To digress slightly, this is where DNA is often misunderstood. What also causes illness to be passed from one generation to another is the fact that the children usually take on the same behaviours and attitudes of the caregivers who have the illnesses. This behaviour and the perception that this creates is rarely observed or changed and this leads to the same problems being created.
Our ancestor's pain and trauma are passed on from generation to generation. And it will continue this way until it has be processed in some way and put to an end.
The Abused Become The Abusers.
In an ideal world people that have been abused would have the opportunity to process their past. However in the society we live in, repression is more likely to occur.
The odd person might see a therapist or work on their past themselves, but on the whole these traumas don't get dealt with. What usually happens is that the pain gets acted out and the same roles end up being played all over again. And these become the dramas we hear about in our conversations with others and in the conversations in the media. What happens is then labelled and added to the statistics.
When this pain is repressed it then causes one to react in life, to lose conscious awareness and to commit the same behaviour that was displayed by their abusive caregivers. The abuse has not been acknowledged and processed and is still going on inside the individual.
When this pain is still going on inside of the individual and the ability to observe has not been developed; the same abusive behaviour is likely to be performed. This is because the ego still perceives the present moment through the eyes of the past. It does this because it only feels safe when it experiences what is familiar.
This has created a blockage in the mind and the body; it has remained frozen in the past.
So with these feelings, emotions and sensation still existing in the body, the ego mind and the body will continue to interpret and experience the present in the same way as it did as a child. And if this is the case, it is not a surprise to see the same dysfunctional behaviour.
External And Internal Abuse
It could be that the individual carries out external abuse in the relationships in their life; however they could just as easily be attracted to others that are abusive.
Here the same roles are being played out, with them taking on the victim or perpetrator roles. It doesn't have to only be experienced externally either.
It could be said that because of their past, the person that displays abusive behaviour is abusing themselves just as much, if not more than they are abusing others. This is because the original abuser has been internalised. And even if the original abuser is not longer alive or around; they still have the potential to exist in the mind of the abuser or abused.
Here the voice exists like a parasite in the mind, merging with the mind and this makes it hard to notice and eliminate.
This shows that it is typically a two way relationship. With people who have been abused being more likely to be attracted to an abuser. If one has been abused in their younger years and it has not been looked at processed, the mind will then continue to associate this as what familiar and safe.
It will also mean that the abused will put up with this behaviour later in life. If this is what they have experienced as a child, one will then think that it is normal and all they deserve.
If one was abused by their own caregivers, it is only normal for them to assume that this is how people are that that the world is therefore unsafe and dangerous. And also that people can't be trusted.
To experience abuse can be extremely traumatising; with the consequences of abuse having the potential to last a life time. Time is said to be one of the greatest healers. Being around supportive people that one can feel safe around and who can listen without judgement is equally important.
This could be in the form of friends, family or a therapist. Here they will listen and acknowledge what is being said without judgement or blame. This is a process that cannot be rushed, and will happen in its own time and when one is ready to face what has happened. There is not a right or wrong time, only the time when one feels ready to undertake such an important step.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.