Before you read any further, I must stress that I am no expert on this subject and do not hold a psychology qualification beyond ‘A’ level. The conclusions drawn in this blog are based on how I saw the problems within my own relationship and is not scientific in any way.
Food for Thought
I visited my counsellor today and we talked about a whole range of things. The main thrust of the conversation was how well I am starting to feel and how things have developed positively over the last few weeks. However, there was one thing that stuck in my mind once I had left. My counsellor raised the question as to whether abusers are born that way or not?
Nature verses Nurture
This whole question has been considerated for generations. The whole ‘nature and nurture’ debate (see Nature, Nurture Debate) has never really been concluded in my eyes. Furthermore, it is too big and wide to really discuss in this blog.
I believe that we are a product of our upbringing. But there comes a point in our lives that we have to make a conscious decision. Do we follow the path based on our experiences? Or do we attempt to break away from some of the negatives that we may have witnessed? Are we able shape our own destinies and characteristics?
Did school bullies have a common factor?
When I think about some of the school bullies there was no common social characteristic. Some had come from good back grounds and some from broken homes. They were either male or female but there was some evidence of low self-esteem in pretty much all of them. As an adult these people usually have some kind of professional insecurities (see blog on Adults as Bullies) that they aim to deflect by focusing on other work colleagues. This is to make themselves look better than they are and so can secure their employment for longer than it is worth. What is agreed on, is that people who abuse are weak and feel powerless so they have to bolster themselves by making others feel weaker and even more powerless. Whether this is something they are born with or not, it is almost always the case.
My background – my choices
Having been brought up in a strict, old-fashioned household, I intended that I wanted to be less likely to bring my own children in the same fashion. My father was a stiff upper lipped, middle class Englishman who never showed much in the way of emotions. This was typical of his generation and certainly his own background. Whereas, my mother was a harsh physical disciplinarian. She had also been brought up in a strict regime by her own parents. I knew just how horrible it felt and how much of a negative impression it had left on me. I decided to take a new path away from my own experiences and made conscious decisions to act in certain ways. Perhaps this was why my self-esteem was already low as I had not really fully formed my true characteristics by the time I ventured out into the world as an adult (see blog on why good people)
She could deflect like a pro
When my ex was confronted with problems or difficult circumstances, she would become uncompromising and verbally offensive. I think that she had become so focused on her own frustrations and inabilities that she was able to deflect them very well. After all, she had had years of practice and experience and a whole host of failed previous relationships to draw experience from. She had turned this into an art.
My ex had a very poor relationship with her father (her mother had died many years before). I can now see the pattern emerging that her first male role model shaped her view on all men (she often stated that all men were ‘Bastards’). Neither was good. I could almost feel sorry for her. But as an adult, she had made grown up choices and so she was responsible for those actions.
I find it difficult to consider that she was ‘born’ to abuse but developed the ability from her own experiences. It’s just that in her case she chose not to break away from it. She was weaker than she had considered herself to be which, as you know, is a key characteristic of abusers.
Knowing right from wrong
I’m sure genetics do play a factor in some abusers. I also believe that some are created. If we are good people, we have a conscience and care about other people’s feelings and views. But if you consider psychopaths for example, they have no conscience, and certainly no empathy.
Abusers do know right from wrong, and this is perhaps why much of the abuse is held behind doors whereby nobody else can witness it going on. By doing this they can also maintain a public persona of which everyone adores.
Brian Masters, who has written biographies of several mass murderers including Rosemary West and Dennis Nilsen, identified that humans have the ability to commit evil acts. The purpose of society is to restrain these evil tendencies by laws and social constructions. I also feel that we have some form of inner barometer of what we consider to be right or wrong. It’s just that our abusers have them set wrongly.
I can now see that my ex felt that her desires were more important than the people she hurt and that she was doing nothing wrong. This characteristic is dangerous and destroying not only to other people but to herself. As stated in an other blog (children in a relationship) her actions will become embedded in her daughters view of the world and so the suffering will continue. This can only evoke pity, but I refuse to be an apologist for her.
Let’s get greater clarification here. Not all criminals, for example, produce children who commit crimes (although they are perhaps more susceptible to do so). There is a point when we learn right from wrong. But it is down to the individual to decide how far our moral boundaries are set and no one is responsible for an adults actions when they finally decide to take a certain path. Generally, I believe that abusers learn their skills and maintain them for their own profits.