As a child, I was the unfortunate childhood witness to domestic violence. Those events shaped who I have become today, and as a mental health practitioner and a student of anger, conflict and domestic violence I see the world through different lenses. One set of lenses is that of the child who heard my mothers’ cries, and the second set of lenses as the professional who assist others in dealing life’s pain. Having the knowledge, experience and battle scars of watching domestic violence occur, I can share with you, in my opinion, the voice of the abuser and what he feels and experiences as he takes the victim through the treacherous cycle of abuse. My position is that in the mind of the abuser, there is unresolved insecurity, anxiety and vulnerability which drive the need for constant power and control in an effort to give the appearance and façade of superiority. As the cycle begins, so does the inner-secrets that dictate the behavior. The inner feelings of the abuser think like this:
1. Fear & Weakness: Those close to me say and do things that make me feel naked emotionally. The truth is that because they are close to me, they present the greatest threat to exposing my weaknesses. I must keep them close enough to get my emotional and physical needs met, but far enough to avoid my feelings of vulnerability. I use aggression to feel less vulnerable. I display strength to hide my weakness.
2: My Success/Your Success: I fear that my partner can be more successful or even more powerful than I am. In order to avoid the germination of this success, I will do all I can to block or even terminate any attempt at his/her success. I do this because my fragile self cannot handle the fact that he/she can have greater or equal success.. I will do what I can to keep him/her down so that I can never be exposed.
3. Isolation: I isolate you because I fear that someone will clue you in to my weakness, and will expose me. To maintain my façade of power, you must be controlled..
4. The ultimate reject is too much: The reason why I tell you “If I can’t have you no one can”, is because I am too weak emotionally to deal with the idea that someone I gave myself to, could reject me. The very idea of this rejection is too much to take; therefore, I will protect my feelings at all cost, even if it means hurting you
5. Giving Conditionally: I give to you emotionally with conditions. I give to you under the condition that you cannot reject anything that I give. To reject ANYTHING that I give is to reject me entirely. I will give to you what I think you need, but I will not let you take ANYTHING from me.
6. Overwhelming force: I respond with violence because I must use overwhelming force to hide the fact that I am really hurting and afraid. The extreme aggression is the only way I know how to feel safe. I must silence any emotional opposition in order to keep my world safe for me. I will do this without thought or care of your emotions as it is paramount that I protect mine.
7. The world is Black and white: I see the world in black and white: the strong and the weak. There is no grey. For there to be grey in my world, then I must deal with uncertainty and unpredictability especially as it relates to dealing with those close to me. Uncertainty creates too much anxiety which I do my best to control through intimidation, emotional and physical control and manipulation. If you try to place grey in my world, I will reset the tone back to my comfort zone and do whatever I can to keep it there.
8. My World (It must be all about me): Despite the fact that I am very weak and vulnerable, I am also quite dangerous because the world revolves around me. Any attempt to shape MY WORLD into something other than I have created, is a perceived threat to my existence., and the only way I know to eliminate those threats, is to either take away the individuality of my partner by making him/her extensions of me, or worse, by eliminating his/her life.
This is the voice of the abuser; the abuser has past wounds and hurts that need time, intensity, and effort to address these issues. Out of the pain of a wounded child became the existence of a professional healer who was given both a gift and a curse of the experience of domestic violence. I have chosen to take my experience, knowledge and passion to help other heal from this heinous crime. The next time you encounter a situation where domestic violence is present, know that both victim and the accuser have internal conflict, issues and situations that must be addressed. The abuser must meet his demons in an effort to overcome them.
Dr. Carlos Todd
Anger & Conflict Expert
Childhood Survivor of DV