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Old 02-11-2008, 11:04 AM   #1
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Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

Hi Folks,

Please don’t think that I feel upset by thinking about my abusive ‘friend’ on the following lines, because distancing myself from the situation in order to try to understand it actually makes me feel very calm and helps me to take control of the situation.

For fourteen years, in her twenties and thirties my ‘friend’ was trapped in a violent and abusive marriage. She would like me to think that it doesn’t bother her now, except that the sound of shouting makes her freak out – a favourite excuse for slamming the phone down if I become assertive, even though I never shout!

I have started to wonder if former victims of domestic violence ever cope with uncomfortable memories by re-enacting the abusive relationship with themselves in the role of abuser and some other hapless soul as the victim?

 
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

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Originally Posted by xanadu2 View Post
Hi Folks,

Please don’t think that I feel upset by thinking about my abusive ‘friend’ on the following lines, because distancing myself from the situation in order to try to understand it actually makes me feel very calm and helps me to take control of the situation.

For fourteen years, in her twenties and thirties my ‘friend’ was trapped in a violent and abusive marriage. She would like me to think that it doesn’t bother her now, except that the sound of shouting makes her freak out – a favourite excuse for slamming the phone down if I become assertive, even though I never shout!

I have started to wonder if former victims of domestic violence ever cope with uncomfortable memories by re-enacting the abusive relationship with themselves in the role of abuser and some other hapless soul as the victim?

Hi Xanadu - I know that children who are either abused or grow up in a home where abuse takes place learn to become abusers, so I don't think it's that far a stretch to say that if someone lived in an abusive relationship for 14 years, and sort of "learned" that behavior, and that became all they knew, then it's possible that person would then go out and treat who they perceive as "weaker" persons the same way they themselves were treated, even though they may know it's wrong, they just don't know any other way. That's how they learned to deal with people, and they just don't know a better way. You don't just suddenly become a loving, strong, assertive but not aggresive, warm and open person just because you turn 18 or because you suddenly make the choice to become one. Humans aren't born sharing, loving, giving, generous creatures. We are by nature self protecting, self preserving, self centered, greedy and aggressive animals. These more civilzed behaviors are all learned over years of careful training by a parent or guardian, and if no one ever teaches them to us, it takes us longer to learn them, if we ever do.

 
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Old 02-11-2008, 02:58 PM   #3
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

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Originally Posted by Larrylou'smom View Post
Hi Xanadu - I know that children who are either abused or grow up in a home where abuse takes place learn to become abusers, so I don't think it's that far a stretch to say that if someone lived in an abusive relationship for 14 years, and sort of "learned" that behavior, and that became all they knew, then it's possible that person would then go out and treat who they perceive as "weaker" persons the same way they themselves were treated, even though they may know it's wrong, they just don't know any other way.
Thanks a lot, LLM!

I was struck by the similarities. Person A and Person B feel drawn to each other by shared interests and an apparently similar outlook on life. They start the relationship on an equal footing, both doing things for each other without splitting hairs about who does what. However Person A has low self-esteem and discovering that Person B feels comfortable with themselves, and life generally, underlines their sense of inadequacy, Then (and I really don’t know how anyone can decide to become abusive) Person A wants to take control. Person B ceases to matter as an individual but is only there to gratify Person A. A pattern of rude controlling behaviour develops, with attempts to undermine Person B’s self-esteem and make them feel isolated and insecure. Then there are incidents of real abuse.

If Person B looks like backing off and leaving the relationship, Person A is conciliatory, because they needs to have a victim there for the gratification they get out of the situation, but the ‘peace’ doesn’t last long…

That’s as far as it’s gone so far.

Since there is no way I am going to buy into the nonsense she is feeding me about how ‘dreadful’ I am and how everyone dislikes me, so I need to know that they speak ill behind my back. I was wondering what on earth could have happened for an apparently good friend to start treating me so badly! I do clearly remember that I have not committed the ‘offences’ she accuses me of.

Maybe she is jealous because I have more freedom than her, but she doesn’t make spiteful remarks when I say anything about this freedom. If I am right about her acting out her memories of domestic violence, it helps me understand the situation, so I can see which of my possible responses is most likely to be effective, and what I may have to face afterwards.

Forewarned is forearmed! If she thinks I'm 'weaker' then she's made a mistake!

 
Old 02-12-2008, 09:40 AM   #4
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

No, you are most definitely not weak, that's for sure!! I'm not sure if anyone ever makes the conscious decision to be abusive. I think maybe after having known each other for a while and becoming more comfortable in the relationship, her real colors started to show themselves. She feels freer to be her true self. On some level she either feels confident that you won't abandon the relationship or she doesn't really care if you do, or just doesn't realize how damaging to your relationship her behavior is. Since she put up with being treated like that for more than a decade, she may not understand why everyone doesn't put up with being treated like that. I can see where that might make her think you're just not as "nice" as she is, since you're not willing to take the garbage she took.

Sorry you're having to deal with this. Hang in there.

Last edited by Larrylou'smom; 02-12-2008 at 09:43 AM.

 
Old 02-12-2008, 09:42 PM   #5
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larrylou'smom View Post

No, you are most definitely not weak, that's for sure!!
Thanks a lot!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Larrylou'smom View Post
I'm not sure if anyone ever makes the conscious decision to be abusive. I think maybe after having known each other for a while and becoming more comfortable in the relationship, her real colors started to show themselves. She feels freer to be her true self. On some level she either feels confident that you won't abandon the relationship or she doesn't really care if you do, or just doesn't realize how damaging to your relationship her behavior is. Since she put up with being treated like that for more than a decade, she may not understand why everyone doesn't put up with being treated like that. I can see where that might make her think you're just not as "nice" as she is, since you're not willing to take the garbage she took.

Sorry you're having to deal with this. Hang in there.
Thanks a lot! I know I must leave this relationship, but she and I go out with the same group of friends, and there is no way I am leaving that group! It would interfere with my enjoyment of life and give her satisfaction! So I cant avoid her altogether.

I also know from things we have discussed in the past, that she has a vindictive streak. However, telling people that I need to be wary makes me look paranoid, as most folks would much sooner believe there couldnt be a problem

It didnt take long after making peace for her to start trying to make me feel so uncomfortable about standing near the food that she thinks she will get me to put myself within range of some big hounds that could jump up and knock me over, since my knees are so weak. Whenever Ive mentioned this she says: I dont mind them jumping on me! as though Im not supposed to mind! I wonder if she would actually enjoy seeing me knocked to the ground? Vicarious violence without having to hit me herself?

Ive tried ignoring her at social gatherings, and walking away from her, and both were totally unsuccessful. She will go out of her way to get at me and leave me trying to fight off unwanted thoughts for the rest of an otherwise lovely day. I am absolutely certain I must do something stronger. If I am right about the nature of her problem, I have ideas about how I am going to handle this.

I can think of a way to show her up in front of a crowd of people she always tries to impress. I know in exactly what situation she will try to control me. Ill be waiting. Then I will say: Speak as you would be spoken to! Shell probably glare. Then Ill say, loudly, I just want peace and quiet. Will someone please rescue me from this bully? Im just trying to think through the consequences.

 
Old 02-12-2008, 11:01 PM   #6
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

my dad was physcially abused as a child, and i was growing up he abused me, we went to family counseling and he hasn't touched me since. but he said thats how he was raised and he was just so used to it i guess. (he was wrong of course) it's not okay.. but yes, sometimes it does happen.

 
Old 02-12-2008, 11:48 PM   #7
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

I was a victim of abuse in my marriage of ten years. I went to a womens shelter and they got me strong and independent. They encouraged me to go to college,My husband said I was to stupid to go to college. well I applied and was accepted. So I guess I wasn't so stupid after all. During my junior year I began working at the shelter, counseling residents and trying to build up self esteem. That is a hard thing to do because these women have been beaten down and told they are worthless for years. we insisted that they attend group therapy and also seek private therapy. Because statistically a victim and the victims children have 92.0 chance of becoming abusers themselves if they don't seek help.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:18 PM   #8
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

Thanks for the replies, folks,

Yesterday I received support messages from a mailing list urging me to get this woman out of my life! I knew they were right, but what to do? You can’t just *tell* a creature who slams the phone down every time the conversation doesn’t suit her, and sends you rude emails over and over again! She is dying for a fight if she doesn’t hear things that suit her, and I didn’t want to give her one.

She is so busy pretending to be a perfect kingpin of the society we belong to that I thought she had the grace to behave in public, and the presence of other people in the background would cramp her abusive style. Remember she’s been bad enough for me to involve the police!

First she thought she would have yet another go at me. I was determined to be really careful on the issue of food and drink…one of each, but I was offered more, so I said: ‘But I’ve had one already. Are you sure?’ and only took a second helping when I was assured it was all right. Actually I have been doing this for ages, but she was trying to make some kind of issue out of it, and I thought; ‘Oh, No! Not The Control Freak again!’ Of course I told her I always did this, but she didn’t want to believe it.

I’d already decided I should draw her to one side at a social gathering and speak in a low voice, saying a couple of things that were assertive but not aggressive, and the presence of the others would inhibit her. But she went into denial, as abusers usually do to the best of my knowledge and believe, then started to argue in spite of people being present. What I'd actually said was : 'Speak as you would be spoken to!' and then: 'Think about it!' ...and she was determined to be rude! Yuck!

I said, more loudly: ‘Someone please get this bully to leave me alone!’ I thought if I was seen to be needing help but not attacking, it would work. Well, she went away, thank goodness, with a rude parting shot, but she went to talk to a guy whom I’d previously believed to be very pleasant.

I was astonished when he was rude to me afterwards. He said something like: ‘There are a lot of things about you that I don’t like!’
I was too shocked to say much at all, but realised afterwards that he probably says this automatically if he feels like it, just as I am normally likely to say: ‘I leave rudeness to you because you do it so much better than me!’ - a remark I didn’t manage to get out.

Feeling bruised, I spoke to a couple of other friends, and realised that they don’t really want any bother. Good! I know exactly where they are coming from! But they talked briefly because they realised I felt rather shocked. Apparently they have also found this man difficult in the past, and I never realised! I can’t be doing with in-fighting spoiling a social scene I’ve always enjoyed so much, so in future I shall just say: Good Morning,’ and avoid him.

Soon afterwards, I met the guy in charge. He’s a great guy, but having to take care of of a lot of things is hard work for him and I hate adding to his problems. He sounded absolutely fed up! (Poor man! Oh, dear!): ‘What’s this between you and xxxx? It’s nearly the end of the season! Why can’t you just walk away from her, or stay away from her?’ And so on....

I assured him I couldn’t agree more with him about wanting peace and quiet to enjoy life and get on with people, and that I had tried walking away from her and being as far away from her as possible, but it hadn’t worked, and on one occasion I’d had to report her to the police. The wife of another guy in joint charge heard the conversation as well. However he wants a hundred yards between me and the dreaded woman in the future, and I agreed with him that would be wonderful! She can no longer cross a crowded gathering to spoil my day without him telling her off!

I suppose she is trying to bad-mouth me among people, and I hope to goodness she meets no-one else to listen to her like that man who was rude to me. Otherwise, let her get on with it, because backbiting only rebounds on the person who does it!

I couldn’t concentrate on the day. I just wanted to come home and type a letter of apology and explanation to the guy in charge, but I thought if I left early I might feel worse. It was a beautiful sunny day in my very favourite part of all this wonderful countryside, and I consoled myself that there would be more equally lovely days to come here in the future, without anyone giving me trouble. Finally, when I knew she must have gone home and I met friendly people who hadn’t been there at the beginning, I started to feel a bit better.

Now I wonder what happens on Thursday? There is a lovely event with most hospitable hosts, always pleased to see me, but they live not far from her and I hope she hasn’t spoiled things for me. A few days later we have our last event, but a couple of other groups continue until mid-March, so I could meet her out with another group where the boss hasn’t placed an injunction on her.

I have a feeling I need to write to her as the police suggested, to tell her to keep her distance at all times and not to attempt to contact me by any means. Please understand this letter is for legal reasons. I mentioned this to a friend I spoke to on the phone and she thought it was better to leave it until after the Thursday event.

I am wishing with hindsight I’d just given her the one sentence and then said: ‘I’m going!’ and immediately walked away, but would I have found I’d still got a problem? I don’t know. After all, she was pretty keen on trying to fight after the theft incident. (By the way, I walk with a stick. She doesn’t)

 
Old 02-17-2008, 12:38 PM   #9
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

Yes a letter might set her off and get her to cause more trouble for you on Thursday than she might have otherwise. I'd leave the letter till after Thursday.

Now you know why I don't have any friends. There always seems to be one jerk in the group who gets a bug up their butt about me for no good reason and then gets everyone else on their side and before you know it I'm out. I wish I had an answer as to why some people just need to have someone to hate, and why they settle their animosity on people like you and me. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, or anything we can really do about it. I think there are a lot of people out there who just feel better about things when they are hating someone. If this weren't the case, there wouldn't be racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I think maybe the best way to handle it is NOT to drag other people into it. Obviously the "someone pleas rescue me from this bully" thing didn't work out too well. It smacks of playing the victim, and when it comes to personality conflicts, people tend not to side with the person who plays the victim. People tend to blame the victim in these cases. Maybe you should try, if she starts any stuff, just observing her like she's a science project of some and let her rant like it's got absolutely nothing at all to do with you. Remain as detatched as you possibly can and d your best not to let her make it your problem. People have eyes and ears, and if she's being unreasonable, everyone else will surely see it. No need for you to point it out. Just hold your head up with as much dignity as you can and ignore her as best you can. Ugh, I don't envy you. People like this can make life such a nightmare. It's because of people like this that drive people to shoot up schools. It's crazymaking to pretend to be someone's friend one minute and then turn on them the next, or saying things like "oh, I like that" and then when you bring it up the next day "are you crazy, I never said I liked that? How stupid would that be?" etc. Hang tough and good luck dealing with this wreched woman.

 
Old 02-17-2008, 06:46 PM   #10
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

"I’d already decided I should draw her to one side at a social gathering and speak in a low voice, saying a couple of things that were assertive but not aggressive, and the presence of the others would inhibit her. "

This seems to be where things went awry. Why don't you just stay away from her and ignore her? I guarantee that if you stopped speaking to her, speaking to others about her, and writing letters, this problem would simply cease to exist.

 
Old 02-18-2008, 03:32 PM   #11
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

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"
This seems to be where things went awry. Why don't you just stay away from her and ignore her? I guarantee that if you stopped speaking to her, speaking to others about her, and writing letters, this problem would simply cease to exist.
Thanks, Bulletproof,

Yes, it was, but I thought I'd said I tried staying away and ignoring her, and all that happened is that she came out of her way to harass me! She's taken the edge off my day like that more than once and it had to stop, because I just want peace. But how to get it with a bully who harasses you like that?

I should have told her to leave me alone the first time she was rude. I should have let the police tell her what she needed to hear. I should have written a legal letter telling her to keep her distance first. I will be so glad when I can finally stop it going round in my head (how do you stop unwanted thoughts?)

But would anything keep a bully like that away without her trying to do me as much damage as possible? Oh, I am sure she learnt it all from her ex!

LLM, I owe you a reply too, but it is late. Thanks, Folks!

 
Old 02-23-2008, 02:55 PM   #12
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Re: Do some victims of domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves?

Hi Folks,

It’s come to me what I did ‘wrong’! The line I was being fed by this woman was that I was so greedy, gobbling up all the food in sight, and also so self-centred, talking about myself all the time.

Reality check! Re the food. Yes, I do enjoy tasty food, but she used to encourage me! My appetite never changed a jot, yet all of a sudden, I became ‘greedy!’ Also you should have heard her forever going on about her problems, and I really did think of saying: ‘I can’t talk about mine because you don’t want to know. Just stop talking about yourself!’ But, regrettably, I never did feel like saying it!

I’ve known these were false excuses. So what were the real ones? It came to me this evening. Last year, when I had an operation, she was my only regular visitor, and it was an eye-opener to me how few of my other friends bothered to come and see me.

The only boyfriend I ever had left me nearly two years ago for another woman, and subsequently had a stroke. However much compassion I feel, he made life very difficult for me, because he owes me money and it’s been torment trying to get it. (Nearly there but not quite!)

I have a very small family. My niece and her three monstrous kids are usually out of touch. Last summer, my sister-in-law found me in a vulnerable frame of mind and taunted me out of malice. I sent her a strong letter, as a result of which my brother hasn’t spoke to me since. I remember this ‘friend’ asking, not so long ago, if I had heard from my brother, as though she cared, and I said: ‘No, I didn’t expect to.’ I have no other relatives.

When she seemed to be my friend, I remember saying: ’Never mind! This part of the world is full of friendly people. The society we belong to is my family!’ I went round smiling at everyone – as I always have – and thinking to myself: ‘This person is my brother, or sister, or is he/she more like an uncle or aunt?’ And so on.

The dose of spite she emailed to me a while ago included malicious remarks about me being mistaken about the group being my ‘family’, because no-one liked me. (I knew it was false, of course, because their body language contadicted it!)

She also knows that I have been thinking I have no difficult people in my life these days, and took care it stayed that way.

So the idea is that since I have only my friends and scarcely anyone else in the world, that she would isolate me from my friends and make me as lonely as possible, to have power over me.

Cruel, malicious, vicious ….!!!

Well, I will take great pleasure in frustrating her by coming out on top with friends all round me, because she hasn’t reckoned with my strength of character, except perhaps in one way. Possibly, like my childish sister-in-law, she has low self-esteem, so feels uncomfortable in the presence of someone who has more than she has.

 
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