What Makes a Person Abusive? (Part 14)
What makes a person abusive?
In addition to the study done by the two researchers which identified two main groups of abusers, cobras and pit bulls, other scholars have stepped forward with similar findings. According to Dr. Berry, the National Centers for Disease Control have studied what methods are most successful in helping abusers not longer abuse. They noticed that similar to the cobra analogy, about 20% of people they studied were hostile to therapy and were seen as having unpredictable violent behavior (Bradley 44). Interestingly enough, researchers also noted how the abuse decreased in violent relationships when the abuse was unsuccessful in controlling the victim. This might be seen as a last attempt at maintaining the relationship by the abuser, as we have talked about the abuser being dependent on the victim and doing desperate things to ensure the victim stays. But one thing seems to be constant in the multiple variations of studies done on abusive people, and that is that 20% or so of abusers are violently unpredictable and hostile to any form of help (Bradley 44). The fact that this small group of violent people seem to be present in multiple forms of study, makes it all the more important to be able to identify such beaters. Although some people may try to stay in a relationship with the intention of "fixing" the abuser, it is not worth the risk to ones own health, especially if they are dealing with the cobra like individual.
Another common point that different researchers have arrived to is the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" complex found within most abusers (Bradley 45). This is where the abuser is seen as all put together on the outside, portraying a life of happiness and normality, while the home life is a different story. It is easy for abusers to put on a mask for the outside world and then violently lash out at their partner for even the most minuscule disagreement behind closed doors (Bradley 45). This is one way that an abusers' violent behavior is tolerated or even fostered, because friends and family of the abuser may not believe the victims' accusations since they have only known the abuser as his/her outside personality (Bradley 45). If the victim finds the strength to seek outside help, it is likely that he/she will be seen as a liar and ostracized for it. In addition to the possible lack of help from friends and family, the victim sometimes falls prey to that loving side of the abuser, and tell themselves the good side is worth the bad (Bradley 45). Since the abuser is able to manipulate these personalities seemingly seamlessly, it makes it easier to know when to flip back to the loving side in order to keep the victim from leaving. Being able to put on a farce for the public is a strong asset to an abuser and as more research and awareness is brought to that fact, victims will be able to see through that lie.
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Berry, Dawn Bradley. The Domestic Violence Sourcebook. Contemporary, 2001