I often ask myself the question: Do abusers equal monsters?
I strongly believe that, except for possibly the psychopaths (which, according to livescience, are 1% of the general population and 25% of incarcerated males within the prison system), violent behaviors can be unlearned. They are able to stop their practice of abuse. However, they have to want to change.
No one can make an abuser change. Not you, therapists, friends, acquaintances… It has to come from within their internal being. You can guide, but if they’re not ready, they’re not ready. They might promise to change, but if they don’t change, they’re choosing not to change.
I look at individuals and systems who have created abusive mayhem in my life.
I’ve experienced – and witnessed the effects of – abusers in many different scenarios and locations. The most memorable experiences in my life are abusers in the workplace, at home, and in a church I was affiliated with.
I only know of one individual who intentionally and blatantly caused and created harm. It was horrific, a new exposure to violence in all its glory. Fascinatingly, I imploded as the response to this individual’s behavior – to the point of complete incapacitation. I was so incredibly frustrated with myself that I had reacted so significantly.
Attached to the same timeframe, there was another individual who knowingly caused and created harm but strongly appeared to be acting out of her own personal demons and fears.
We all have our limits. Some things are more profound to you than they are to me. We all have different triggers and tolerance levels. What is incomprehensible and horrific to you might be something I can blow off. The same goes for me.
The crazy-making stuff I experienced at home has been another mind-boggling thing for me to process. It’s taken me many years to try to figure it all out.
For many years, I thought my dad didn’t give a shit about me. However, I have since learned that he likely had no clue, was acting in his own self interest, and followed through on what he thought to be “right” and “true” and “needed to be done.”
I always knew my ex- was just drowning in his own shit and didn’t know how to properly respond. I never took his craziness personally. That does not mean his actions did not wreak havoc to my wellbeing.
I still haven’t wrapped my brain around the church system I was raised. It is an incredibly sick system where people figuratively – and literally – get sick and die from all the mayhem associated with what goes on there. However, I can’t figure it out.
Is it intentional? Is it crazy-making on purpose? It seems to be related more to the system than it being intentionally tied. There seems to be a lot of power and control issues. However, it still seems to be system-related and not intentional vindictiveness. However, the pain of the behaviors of individuals within the system are acute, real, horrific to experience, crazy-making, and definitely feels intentional.
There are so many layers – visible and invisible – to that system. There are way more unknowns than knowns. Not all the experiences are the same for everyone. There are different “clicks,” “groups,” and “ideals” within the same system.
It is fascinating to think about, reflect on, and overcome all it’s crazy mayhem. There is a lot of love, a huge sense of community, with a whole lot of darkness that makes it so much more difficult to grasp and understand.
In all of these situations, it has been my intentional and purposeful goal to learn and grow as a person, family member, former church member, and employee. I have always wanted to use these opportunities to help others, understand myself, and to make a significantly positive difference in the world because of these crazy-awful experiences of sheer hell and torture – both when I was in the midst of the mayhem and now while I’m out.
Through these experiences, my wish has been granted. I have been able to help someone leave an incredibly abusive situation and have been incredibly good at my jobs as an RN.
I always want to know: Is the all this mayhem because of me? Is the abuse something that I caused? Is all the craziness related to something I have done or not done? Thanks to many calls to 1-800 numbers, I learned that abuse and “domestic violence is not caused by or provoked by the actions or inactions of the victim.”
In a recent class I took, a therapy treatment was referred to as being found to be highly effective in reversing violent behaviors made by abusers – particularly related to intimate partner violence. This helped me learn what I had been wondering and hoping to be true: that violence can be reversed.
Although abusers act and look like monsters at times (and cuddly and docile at others), they can learn to be non-abusive. However, as with everything in life, they have to want to.
And that’s the key. Without a want-to, an internal drive, a follow-through toward change by the abuser, it’s a lost cause. No change will happen – ever.
If you’re living with a monster, or experiencing behaviors by someone acting like a monster – randomly or consistently, never expect them to change. Only you can choose to change. You can’t choose for them.
Not all abusers are truly monsters. Hence the dichotomy of why we put up with them for way too long. We see their humanity. Their goodness. Their value. They need to see beauty and healing for themselves before they can ever consistently show their goodness to you in a consistent manner.
Abusers do not always equate to be monsters. However, stay away until they no longer behave and think like monsters – and until you can have the know-how and skills to be around them – for your health and safety – and theirs.
May you go in peace, love, security, safety, and positive change.