What makes a Person Abusive? (Part 15)
What makes a person abusive?
Last time we brought up the idea that abusers are able to tap into multiple personalities and act certain ways depending on the people they are with. In addition to this, Dr. Berry and other researchers suggest that abusers have some type of "radar" that enables them to distinguish women that they will be more likely to be able to abuse (Berry 45). Although researchers are unable to scientifically qualify why this might be, some speculate that since many abusers hold traditional values of the man's dominate position within the family, they are able to spot a woman who exhibits the reverse traits, like vulnerability. Dr. Berry also attempts to bust the myth that stress brought on by financial strain, family problems, or other trials the average human faces, is what makes the person abuse (Berry 46). Although any of these factors could foster an environment where an abuser is more likely to abuse, none of these factors would make an otherwise peaceful person abuse their spouse. The explosive combination of the need to control, domination, and dependency are much higher risk factors when determining why a person abuses (Berry 46). She explains how an "otherwise stable, non-violent person does not just become an abuser because of difficult circumstances" (Berry 46). There are many partners who face daily struggles and tribulations, but still go home and live a normative, non-violent life. It is dangerous to scapegoat an important and dangerous lifestyle like abusive behavior on a normative aspect of human life-- facing adversity. Instead of working to understand why people abuse, using one's situation as a way to justify their behavior would foster an environment for more abuse. It is not the environment that creates a warped reality for the abuser, but their own actions instead. They create a reality were their happiness can only be influenced by the victim, and by controlling them they are able to dictate their own happiness through their victim (Berry 46). As weird as it sounds, beaters attempt to control their own happiness by controlling their victims first.
Next Dr. Berry notes that as we devote more time and energy into understanding domestic violence, the little we actually know about the complexity is revealed. In her book, Stiffed:They betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi dives into a six-year investigation of what it means to be a male in America. In her research she came to some puzzling conclusions. She found that the men she studied had "lost their compass in the world", things like jobs, families, homes, etc, and the moment of abuse was the only time the abuser felt in control of anything in their life (Berry 47). She described this as an insurmountable amount of pressure which is placed on men in America to be in control of their life, families, and finances at all times, and when that pressure reaches a boiling point the abuser lashes out (Berry 47). This is a point referenced by multiple researchers, the idea that men are trained to obtain their value based on their public achievements. This is especially true of men who have tasted outward success and then had it stripped away from them. Faludi explains that as the future generations of men are being raised, it is important to showcase to them multiple avenues of "success" and not the formulaic and financially based notion of success which dominates today's society (Berry 47). The less pressure placed on the individual by society based on outdated values the better, and as more children are brought up being taught multiple examples of success, the world may become less violent.
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Berry, Dawn Bradley. The Domestic Violence Sourcebook. Contemporary, 200