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01 November 2013

Who Is An Abuser?

The next time you are on the train, or in a mall, or just walking down the street, look around at all the people. Can you spot the abuser? Probably not. There is no typical look to an abuser. He might be the man holding his wife's hand or that woman pushing a baby stroller. Most abusers appear to be loving and caring to their spouse or partner and their children -- to the outside world. The abuse most often takes place behind closed doors where no one other than the abuser and the victim are witnesses.

Abuse is not a result of stress or alcohol. Abuse is a method of control. It is intentional. It is designed to instill fear and dread in the victim so that the abuser gets what he wants -- control. Many abusers have low self-esteem. Controlling an intimate relationship through violence and intimidation is how abusers feel better about themselves. 

An abuser will not take responsibility for what he has done. He will often blame the victim or simply deny any abuse occurred, calling the victim a liar. Abusers can also paint themselves as a victim, accusing the abused partner of being the abuser. It's a pathological game played by sociopaths that you cannot win. Even when faced with irrefutable proof such as photos and video of their abusive acts, they will still deny what they did.

If you are in an abusive relationship, take steps to keep yourself safe. You have probably already learned to recognize the warning signs. He may start pacing the floor and clenching his fists. He may glare at  you, puff out his chest and raise his voice. If you feel like you have to constantly step lightly to keep him from getting angry or annoyed, avoid expressing your opinion because you fear his reaction, and you find yourself making excuses for his behavior, you are in an abusive relationship. If he has hit you, threatened to hit you or you felt in danger of being hit, you are in an abusive relationship.

Because most abuse is committed in secret, his friends and co-workers often will not believe you if you tell them. They do not know the man you know. They only see him at work or at social gatherings. They have never seen the man who wraps his hands around your throat and chokes you until you are unconscious. They have never seen him slam your head into the wall or pull your hair until your scalp bleeds. They do not know him. They only know the facade, the mask of normality and congeniality. They will continue to support him after you leave, so be prepared for it. You will feel victimized again, but this time by his friends when they call you a liar and support him. It is best if you do not communicate with your abuser and his circle of supporters again, except through the courts if necessary, after you leave. 

You cannot change the abuser. You cannot reform him. If you do a little research, you will probably discover that you are not the first woman he has abused. After you manage to escape him, he will find a replacement victim because he cannot function without a victim. He needs a victim to feel like a "man." He is incomplete unless he is in control of woman. You must also accept that you cannot help his next victim. Often, she will be one of his supporters before and after you left. She might even claim that you are a liar and he is a gentle, loving man. Unfortunately she will have to learn for herself. You cannot help her. 

If you are involved with a man who has been accused of domestic violence, had a domestic violence protection order issued against him, or been convicted of domestic violence, take steps to protect yourself. Learn the warning signs of abuse and potential violence. Make a safety plan. Have a way out. Above all, if you experience violence or threats of violence, get out and get help. 


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