Abusive Behavior Part 3
By Wayne L. Misner

18. Were you abusive with your children?
The breakdown of the 94.71% who answered:
Male Female
Abuser Abused Abuser Abused

I was abusive with them 14.11% 3.07% 0.62% 6.85%
I was not 19.63% 28.22% 1.62% 53.92%
There are no children 12.88% 22.09% 2.99% 34.00%
5.29% did not answer this question.
I found a big problem with the answers to this question. When I separated the abused and abuser the figures are:
The abused:
I was abusive with them 3.07% men and 6.85% women.
My Question = See Denial (3) 10 % of those abused answered, “I was abusive with them” are abusers also! Why would you state that you abused the children and feel your not an abuser unless you are in some type of “Denial”. Yes, someone may be abusing you but that doesn’t give you an excuse to do the same thing to someone else!
I believe this mother may be telling us one reason:

• I realized I was re-creating a cycle with my children. I would be so angry and stressed trying to keep my partner happy and not setting him off that sometimes I would become very angry with my children and then I would yell at them or take a hold of them. One day when my daughter said that she was upset that I did what daddy had done to her I realized that I needed to calm down and walk away if I were angry. Also that I needed to be there for my children if their father became abusive towards them.

• My child witness how my Husband talk and treats me on a daily basis. This has affected how my son (3 yrs) talks and treats me

The abusers: (Thank you for being honest)
I was abusive with them 14.11% men and 0.62%women.

The abusers who answered:
I was not 12.88% men and 1.62% women.

My Question = See Denial (3) The abusers who answered, “I was not” may think they were not abusive to the children even if they did admit being abusive to the partner but, experience shows that children watching abuse feel they are part of the abuse and many feel they are the cause of the abuse. In situations of exposure of abuse or in early childhood abuse, the trauma and shock of witnessing the abuse has been shown to interfere with an individual's ability to regulate emotions, which leads to frequent episodes of extreme or out of control emotions, including anger and rage. Thus, I believe, the potential beginning to the next generation of abusers tomorrow is the children involved one way or another in the abuse they are watching or taking in childhood today. Family Shelter Service (4) states, “Teens living in abusive homes not only witness abusive behavior but they also learn it, carrying the terrible lesson with them into adulthood. They do not need to be abused themselves in order to take on delinquent behavior; witnessing it is enough.
• Boys who witness their fathers' violence are 10 times more likely to engage in abusive behavior to a partner than boys from nonviolent homes.
• More than 50% of youth who witness their parents being abusive to each other become involved in an abusive relationship.
Without intervention, teens from abusive homes are:
• 6 times more likely to attempt suicide;
• 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.”

My Question = There are no children. 41.55% men and 50% women. Do you want to bring children into this relationship right now?

19. Do you have a good relationship with your children?
The breakdown of the 96.96% who answered:
Male Female
Abuser Abused Abuser Abused

Yes 26.35% 26.95% 1.82% 58.88%
No 7.78% 4.79% 0.36% 2.68%
There are no children 12.57% 21.56% 2.92% 33.33%
3.04% did not answer this question.

20. Do your children forgive you for abusing them or their other parent?
The breakdown of the 74.31% who answered:

Male Female
Abuser Abused Abuser Abused

Yes 13.38% 9.86% 1.46% 27.44%
No 6.34% 4.23% 0.32% 5.19%
Half and half 17.61% 7.04% 0.65% 14.94%
There are no children 14.79% 26.76% 4.06% 45.94%

25.69% did not answer this question.

My Question = For both the abused and the abuser who answer either “Yes” or “Half and Half” Do you really believe the percentages above reflect the true feelings of the children. Or are they living in fear of one partner or the other. So they say all is ok to keep the peace. They say they love you for fearing not to. Or one parent is protecting them from the other so they gravitate to the one who protects. But when they grow older and more mature they will feel you let them down? You are the adult. You are supposed to know the answers and how to fix things. Community Action Stops Abuse (5) states, “Children are the silent victims of domestic violence. Their voices may not be heard and their pain often goes unnoticed. Every child from a violent home is abused. Witnessing the two most important people in their life hurting and being hurt damages the core of the child's emotional being.” Many of you wrote me with a story like this one = “I am not the abuser, but my 25 year old son is mad/questioned me for not protecting him from his verbally abusive father when he was growing up. I thought I was "keeping the family together" for the good of the children, but my son said that it would have been better for him if he was free from the verbal abuse of his father.” Some of these children were physically abused as well as verbally. The mother or father who put up with the abuse is going to pay another penalty. That is the disrespect and mistrust of the children for not protecting them when they were young and they could not protect themselves. You may be a coward in their eyes tomorrow.
If you have children whom you have abused, apologize to them for your bad behavior and tell them from this day forward you will show them love and respect. Read Polly Joan the Preventing Teenage Suicide NY: Human Sciences Press (1986) and Judith Wallerstien’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce Hyperion (2000)

21. If your children do not talk with you, how are you going to go about re-establishing a relationship with them?
Please write in as much detail as possible.

Some of what you wrote:
• My kids r 6yrs 5yrs and 2yrs they only hear the yelling sometimes and have never seen me hit him or him hit me we try not to do any rowing in front of them my oldest daughter has asked me if me and daddy love one another and I do reassure her but I’m lying to myself cause I don’t want him and he wont leave for the kids I will tolerate him .

• I don’t know. They hold things against us from the past.

• No matter how it turns out my kids are all I have and I would never want them to feel bad about how me and their dad can behave

• My children are from a previous marriage not the relationship that just ended. The girl scared the children; they said she was mean and bossy. I am taking the children and me to counseling.

• Don't see them. I do write letters but, they have not written any letters to me.

• She talks only when she wants to talk to me about people, life, animals, kids, friends or anything else that is on her mind. I have tried over the years to talk to her about how young I was when I had her, how difficult it was during those years. How I didn't know very much and hadn't been taught very much but in saying this, I always make sure I tell her that this does NOT make it right, it is just some of the reasons things happened at that period of our lives. She isn't very interested to hear about it or what I have learnt, how I have changed or anything else to do with that subject. I feel that she needs to hold on to that resentment for her own reasons and when it is her time to do some critical thinking of her own, she will do it at that time and not in my time frame.

• My children care and love their father. They are very much aware of "the way he is". Although they have experienced some of his bad behaviors, I would redirect it at myself when the emotional abuse was turning to them.

• My children are still very young and live in the home with their father and I. I used to think I would tell them to stand up for themselves. Now that I find myself in that position, with very young children, I realize that it is not easy and I don't want to leave. I just want to be able to have a loving family without all of the anger.

• Treat them how I want to be treated. By showing them love and reassuring them that they are wonderful human beings and that I will always love them regardless of what they do.

• I can already see my young, 5 year old daughter having to walk on eggshells around her father during visitation. She only tells him what he wants to hear because she doesn't want him to get mad. He is molding her into an extension of himself, just as he tried to do to me when we were married. I just do the best I can while my daughter is in my household, to show her what a healthy and calm environment is like.

• Get help! I’ve been verbally and mentally abused since I was young I can remember being 3 yrs old and hearing it. I can hear it all very clearly, and I hate it. Its torture. Now I’m 25 yrs old and have got no help and have been in nothing but abusive relationships, and now I do the same thing to my boyfriend, he retaliates back, and the whole fucked up cycle started over. I love him so much and want nothing more than to have a normal, non-argumentative relationship. He’s amazing and I don’t want to lose him because of the way my cards were dealt to me as a child! It’s a vicious repetitive, nasty cycle. Actually this is the first time ive ever wrote any of this or admitted to my horrible behavior, and I can honestly say I make myself sick! I live every day self-conscious, down about how I look, suffer from anorexia, depression, anxiety, and many other health concerns. Will it ever stop!

22. What advice would you give someone who may have an abuse problem today?

Some of what you wrote:
• Do not be in denial.

• If your strong enough leave and if your not keep taking the beating cause it ain’t gone to stop

• That verbal abuse hurts just as deeply as physical, and that even if you never "touch" your partner, they still remember all the nasty things you said years later.

• For the abused...stop the cycle for your own sake, especially if you have children. Do not continue to make excuses for them, do not try to "love" them out of it, and do not allow the fear of leaving keep you in a life-threatening situation. Run away and get help.

• Start with yourself. Get counseling and look real hard at yourself. Regardless if you are the abuser or the abused it all begins with you. If you can't look in the mirror and love what you see - inside and outside, then you still have work to do. The road is long and tedious so build a strong support system of family and friends to help you on your journey.

• Once you realize the abuse, take positive action immediately. Don't delay.

• An abusive relationship you can not change, only the other can make that decision. You also need counselor yourself because it's a cycle and just continues until there is harm to you or your children

• Please seek help. Their is a partner on the other end that believes

• Get Help! If you really think you care about or love the person you are abusing, you are destroying them.

• Try counseling if other is willing. If not or doesn’t work GET OUT., MAKE PLANS-The hardest part is seeing it...I stuck together for 6 years and now I see it clear as day....If someone is saying that they love you and then hurting you Its not love. If they lie to you and play head games to keep the lie going ITS ABUSE no matter what they say it’s not okay and it’s not your fault DONT take responsibility for it. Sometimes it’s like drug addiction cunning, baffling and powerful. You are the only one who can take the power out of it.........LEAVE I take full responsibility for my part Not Leaving the abuse is his..

• Abusers and the abused can change, if they truly want to be different. Life is so much better.

• I was the abused wife; I left him and think I still love him. I feared that I would be really hurt one day, and I love my family enough to finally hear them and leave my husband.

• My advice would be to look at your own issues and try to resolve them. A mentally "healthy" person in charge of her/his well-being would recognize abuse and immediately put an end to a potential abusive relationship. Initially, I wanted to help my abuser heal from his past family relationships, all the while see the good in him and ignore all the bad stuff that was going on between him, me, and our kids. My advice is that you cannot change anyone. Change is up to the individual. That means the victim can also change. Realize your self-worth and integrity, gain the smarts to recognize suttle and not-so-suttle verbal abuse, and absolutely do not put up with verbal abuse. Make a plan to positively change your life.
23. Why did you allow yourself to be abused? (choose as many as apply)
The breakdown of the 93.63% who answered:

Male Female
Abuser Abused Abuser Abused

Fear of being physically hurt 0.00% 1.68% 0.38% 7.33%
Fear of being left without money 0.00% 5.46% 0.56% 13.58%
Fear of leaving my children without a parent 1.26% 6.30% 0.09% 8.88%
To keep the relationship going 3.36% 26.89% 0.66% 23.12%
I believed I could help him/her change 1.26% 13.87% 0.70% 23.36%
I was afraid of being alone 3.78% 16.81% 0.70% 18.37%
Non applicable 17.65% 1.68% 0.66% 1.60%

6.37% did not answer this question. Multiple answers were requested.
Symptoms of abuse: The psychological damage caused by abuse can get so complicated that it will likely lead to lots of confusion and delusions that can stay with you for a long while and cause a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for years after the abuse has stopped. PTSD is severe anxiety that people can develop after serious emotional or physical harm or threat. Counseling, psychologist, etc. are just as important for you as it is for the abuser. You must heal. The looking inside will help you understand why you put up with the abuse or even became a codependent. Read M. Beattie’s Co-Dependent Library of Congress: Hazelden Foundation (1987) or Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself: Hazelden Publishing & Educational Services; Second edition (July 1, 1996)
Maybe you lacked boundaries, or were abused when you were younger and just fell back into a pattern or your self esteem was so low that the abuser had you convinced that you couldn’t do better or deserve better. I believe when the violence occurs, the abused partner still wants it to get better. They want to continue to have a loving relationship and do everything right so it will all go away, and like all make believe fantasies, they all lived happily ever after. It doesn’t happen in real life stories of abuse.
24. Do you think you were the problem?
The breakdown of the 96.67% who answered:
Male Female
Abuser Abused Abuser Abused

I was mostly the problem 27.22% 6.96% 2.66% 10.99%
I was a small part of the problem 12.03% 36.08% 1.93% 57.73%
I wasn't the problem 5.70% 12.03% 0.24% 26.45%
3.33% did not answer this question.

My Question = See Denial (3) The percentage of abusers that answered:

I was a small part of the problem 12.03% men and 1.93% women
I wasn't the problem 5.70% men and 0.24% women
17.73% men and 2.17% women 19.90% Total

That’s right almost 20% of the abusers felt they were a small part of the problem or wasn’t the problem! Many people really believe they're not abusing and are not even aware that what they've been doing is (or was) considered abuse. Some abusive people are not aware that they are abusing others. These abusers are re-living their past (most likely, childhood) with their present partner. The abuser can’t seem to understand their actions. It’s replaying subconscious bad childhood memories as they act unconsciously without reason.

My Question = See Denial (3) The percentage of abused that answered:

I was mostly the problem 6.96% men and 10.99% women.

18% of those abused felt they were mostly the problem. Did you really believe as the abused partner you were the problem? No one deserves to be abused! Even if you did do something wrong. If you did not do anything wrong maybe you have been brain washed to believe you have which reinforces your need to get some form of “Counseling”. However, some people join the abuse with or without knowing as this writer said,

• Don't get sucked into the abuse, because once you get sucked in by an abuser it is easy to become just as bad if not worse than them. It gets to a point where it is difficult to see a difference in your own behavior and that of the abuser. At first it is self defense and then pretty soon it is survival.

(3) Denial (From the Encyclopedia) an unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings. In psychology, an ego defense mechanism that operates unconsciously to resolve emotional conflict, and to allay anxiety by refusing to perceive the more unpleasant aspects of external reality. In the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud, denial is described as a primitive defense mechanism. Anna Freud studied the widespread occurrence of denial among small children and explained that the mature ego does not continue to make extensive use of denial, because it conflicts with the capacity to recognize and critically test reality. Most people employ denial at some time in their lives when coping with stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. Denial as a defense mechanism, in psychoanalysis, any of a variety of unconscious personality reactions which the ego uses to protect the conscious mind from threatening feelings and perceptions. Sigmund Freud first used defense as a psychoanalytic term (1894), but he did not break the notion into categories, viewing it as a singular phenomenon of repression. His daughter, Anna Freud, expanded on his theories in the 1930s, distinguishing some of the major defense mechanisms recognized today. Primary defense mechanisms include repression and denial, which serve to prevent unacceptable ideas or impulses from entering the conscience. Secondary defense mechanisms—generally appearing as an outgrowth of the primary defense mechanisms—includes projection, reaction formation, displacement, sublimation, and isolation.
So what is it? Denial is where the person refuses to admit or recognize they have a problem. The denial of the abuser and those being abused are very much like the denial experienced by those addicted by drugs, alcohol, eating to obesity, sexual addictions and etc. All abusers and abused are facing life threatening ends. Yet continue because they feel they don’t have a problem or the problem is not that bad. Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss critic (1821-1881) may have said it best, “We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves.” However, I might have changed one word in the above statement for those in denial to “We are never more disconnected with others than when we are disconnected with ourselves.”

Continue to Part 4

Author's Bio: 


Wayne L. Misner is owner of Healthcare CIO, a consultant company in New Jersey. He has been in the healthcare field for forty years. In addition, he became the Vice President of Programs and Education for a NJ chapter of Parents Without Partners, where he moderated men and women’s groups across the state. For ten years, he had the opportunity to facilitate many groups of men and women who were struggling with not being able to listen. (The basis of his book – Men Don’t Listen, as well as many articles printed all over the world.) While at the Rehabilitation Hospital he also was a facilitator of the women’s group for both inpatients and outpatients.
Over all these years he has installed systems in Jersey Shore Medical Center (Meridian Health System), St. Elizabeth Hospital (Trinitas), and Morristown Medical Center (Atlantic Health System). In addition, he has directed the Information Systems Centers at Carrier Rehabilitation Hospital and Shore Memorial Hospital. As Vice President of the Princeton based NJ Hospital Association, Mr. Misner represented all the hospital members directing, “The Hospital Information System.”

He is the father of two sons and one daughter.


Disabled Korean Veteran with Bronze Service Star
New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal
Follmer Bronze Award
Reeves Silver Award
Muncie Gold Award
HFMA Medal of Honor Award