I define an abuser as one who uses the power of words or physical prowess as a means of manipulating and controlling others. Generally, the perpetrator chooses to forego any interventions such as counseling or psychiatric assistance. However, he/she may grudgingly consent to couples counseling when a partner provides an ultimatum. The abuser may be mandated by the court to seek anger management treatment and will attend reluctantly. The abuser generally has minimal insight into the significance of his problem. Raging and physical intimidation emerge naturally out of a sense of entitlement. The core assumption of those who are perpetrators of violence is, “People must act the way I want them to respond or they will pay the price for their actions.” Typically, the abuser’s worldview emerges out of internalizing childhood conflict involving abusive behavior of a parent.

The victimizer has never processed childhood conflict. He may have been abused or witnessed abuse at the hands or words of a parent. The aggressor experiences psychic numbing that is derived out of his own victimization. He never gets closure on his own troublesome history by grieving and releasing his resentment appropriately. Instead, the abuser repeats the intergenerational cycle of trauma, projecting anger and rage on those he supposedly values.

Often, the victim is confounded by the behavior of the abuser. Those who control, rage and intimidate can often be kind and gentle. They can put their “best foot forward” and gain the admiration and respect of the significant people in their lives. Their dark side is hidden from most – with the exception of their closest relationships.

The perpetrator’s fluctuation of moods makes the problem perplexing. One moment, he may be cordial and communicative, and abruptly shift to monumental moodiness filled with venom toward his partner. The unpredictable nature of the abuser makes those around him scramble for cover. One aspect that makes abuse mystifying is that the perpetrator never seeks to acknowledge that he has committed any wrong-doing. He can victimize loved ones through the trauma of painful assaults or words and then justify his actions as necessary. This pattern usually creates confusion and self-doubt in the victim. At times, the abuser may repeatedly apologize for his misbehavior and expect others to promptly forgive and forget. The abuser may flare if loved ones don’t promptly respond by acting as if no infraction was committed.

Perpetrators of violent behavior tend to be character disordered in nature. This means that they have a need to blame others for their actions rather than take responsibility for being aggressive. Their emotional and behavioral difficulties tend to be more pervasive pattern, in the sense that their pathological behavior goes to the core of their personality. Often, perpetrators of abuse may suffer from psychological disorders. Without therapeutic treatment and/or psychotropic medication management, abusers tend to chronically re-offend.

Some of the personality characteristics of abusers are:

• The use of power and control as a means of altering one’s social environment.
• Being highly manipulative in words and actions.
• A tendency to believe that they are always right.
• Viewing life dichotomously – (black and white thinking).
• Typically having been abused or pampered as children.
• Having minimal insight into how their behavior affects others.
• Believing that they are entitled to a life that is always without injustice.
• Exhibiting poor impulse control and displaying an aggressive style of communicating.
• Being self-centered, rigid, and lacking the capacity to view things from other people’s perspective.
• Being extremely insecure, feeling incompetent, and manifesting defensiveness.

Abusers lack the insight and sensitivity necessary to understand the damage that they inflict on others. They feel justified in projecting anger and rage on those closest to them. They rarely seek help because they feel that their actions are warranted based upon their egocentric view of the world. They “pull reversals” or manipulate their loved ones into believing that their behavior is an appropriate reaction to being “wronged.” The prognosis for healing among those who abuse is negative unless intense therapeutic intervention in willingly sought.

Author's Bio: 

James P. Krehbiel, Ed.S., LPC is an author, freelance writer and nationally certified cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. James is the featured Shrink Rap columnist for TheImproper.com, an upscale arts, entertainment and lifestyle web magazine. He has contracted with New Horizon Press to publish his latest work entitled, The Search for Adulthood: Saying Goodbye to the Magical Illusions of Childhood. James can be reached at www.krehbielcounseling.com.