Why do abusers abuse?
At the core of the abuser’s behavior lies a perception that the victim is not a person but a possession. He may truly imagine that he loves her, but it is in the same sense that he ‘loves’ his car or his CD collection.
A variety of influences may underlie the abuser’s need to turn a person he loves into a completely dependent and less than fully human object.
- Upbringing—A child raised in a home in which a parent engaged in abuse may grow up to believe that abuse is a normal part of relationships.
- Immaturity—A teenager who was overindulged, as a child may never have learned to see other people as equals, since his wishes and desires were granted special status.
- Role perceptions—Society teaches boys to be dominant, emotionally insensitive and “in control.” Excessive identification with this image, or inexperience and insecurity in dating relationships may cause the abuser to exaggerate those characteristics to the point of becoming abusive. This tendency will be especially strong if the boy suffers from feelings of powerlessness and low self esteem.
- A sociopathic or psychopathic personality—For reasons not fully understood, occasional individuals are born without the normal human capacity to empathize with the pain and needs of others. They are utterly self-centered, amoral and inclined to crime and violence. The risk they pose to society is heightened by the fact that they are often superficially charming and skilled at manipulating others. Fortunately, they are about as rare as they are dangerous.