We ask ourselves, "Why in the world would anyone want to abuse someone?" Two simple answers: Control & Sin. When someone does not feel good about themselves they take it out on other people to do and say hurtful things. When they put down other people, that makes them feel better about themselves. It is just like that "bully" you went to school with. Notice it is always someone who portrays themselves confident and popular. But the truth is, they would not have to be a bully and put people down if they already felt confident about themselves. Knowing they have control over a person's feelings, actions and responses is what feeds their growing problem.
Control is what distinguishes abuse from generic sin and selfishness. Abuse is essentially a power play - an attempt to dominate or coerce another person. This is very important to understand because it is so often misunderstood. Abuse isn't an anger issue, although abusers often use rage as a weapon or an excuse. It's not a relationship issue, though it is a relationship destroyer. It's not a sexual issue, though abuse often plays out in sexual ways. And it's not a drug, alcohol or mental-health issue, although addictions and mental illnesses are often involved. While any of these factors may be involved in an abuse situation or contribute to it, the underlying motive will always be control. Simply put, abusers act out of a desire or need to control their environment by controlling the people around them.
Behind this urge to control, of course, is fear, insecurity, need - a need to feel less vulnerable, to be on top, to not feel pain or loss. People who feel weak or out of control tend to tighten their grip wherever they can and take out their frustrations on those who are weaker. Those who have been hurt or wounded attempt to make themselves feel less vulnerable by lashing out against those who can't fight back. And some people just want to get their own way, no matter what!
Another contributing factor to abuse is past experience - because abuse is learned behavior. Abusers typically resort to violence and control of others because that is what they are use to and have experienced in their lives. If you've experienced abuse as a child - either as a victim or onlooker - your chances of being involved with an abusive situation as an adult greatly increases. Even if you hated the abuse and vowed to never do that as an adult, you may find yourself lashing out in times of frustrations and stress. You may end up being an abuser or being in an abusive relationship because it feels familiar.
Abuse hurts the abusers as well as the victims. Although the abuse usually "works" - it achieves it purpose by gaining control and releases pent-up tension - it can never satisfy the underlying need that drives it. So the underlying anxiety continues, heightened by the guilt and shame of having harmed a loved one, the fear of being found out, and the fear of losing the very relationship the abuser tried so hard to control.
Sadly, its human nature for those who fear weakness to prey on those who are even weaker, just as those who have been sinned against will almost always be tempted to sin.
The next blog I will dig deeper into the "sin" part of abuse and gain a deeper understanding of the sinful part of this hurtful behavior too many of us have unfortunately experienced. Until next time.....