Abuse Reactive Page
What do we therapists mean when we say that someone is abuse reactive? What we are talking about is someone who has been abused doing what was done to them, or what they have seen done to others. They learned to identify with the person who hurt them and then hurts others, the way they were hurt. The following are examples of this:
A man slaps his wife the way he was slapped by his father, or the same way he saw his father hit his mother - and for similar reasons. He strikes her when she "talks back" to him.
A 9 year old boy tells his friend to pull down his pants so he can "suck his dick" - he does what was being done to him.
A 12 year old boy becomes a bully because his older brother bullies him.
A 13 year old girl molests her 5 year old sister, like her uncle molested her.
Most people who were abused do not abuse others because the know it felt bad so they don't want others to feel that way. But some people who were abused learned that their abuser was powerful - more powerful than other people. At least that is how it seemed. Abusers don't usually feel very powerful. So, in order to feel powerful, the abused becomes an abuser. But, the abuser cycles from victim to abuser and back to victim again. Abuse happens when the person who is abusing feels like a victim. This is important to understanding an abusing dynamic. Feeling like a victim takes away your options and leaves room for you to become a hurter.
For example, studies show that in teens who sexually offend, the sexual offense happens because the youth is feeling bad. Something happened that caused the youth to feel angry or hurt. They use sexually acting out as a way to release the bad feelings. Acting out happens because you feel bad in the first place and don't know how else to cope. You are doing what you learned, what was done to you or what you saw. From there it can get worse, or you can do things to get better.
Another way of looking at this is that what was done to you was so traumatic at the time that you act it out over and over and over again. You want to master the abuse. Acting it out over and over again gives you a way to try to change it, to make it come out different. Its like being haunted by old ghosts. But it never does. This is a bit of a twist to what survivors do when they put themselves in abusive situations if they were previously abused. It is an attempt of recreating what had happened and hoping it will turn out differently. It is really crazy-making because it will never turn out different. It will always be the same. Mastery comes from actually facing what happened and changing your response to it, not playing it out over and over again.
One of the hardest things to do is admit that there is a problem in the first place. You know what you did wasn't right. You hope it won't happen again and you really just want to push it out of your mind. Besides, you think to yourself, it really wasn't THAT BAD. All I did was ___________. Fill in the blank. Others are over-reacting.... This is what you tell yourself. But pushing it away, trying to minimize it, or denying it all together only means it is going to come back up again. Owning up is the first step in actually not allowing your abusiveness to happening again. And no one really likes to think about when they hurt others, unless you are one of those people who enjoys hurting others. This is a different story. But then again, if you enjoy hurting others, you may not care about changing it and probably are not even reading this.
If you are abuse reactive, I can help you if you are ready for the help. The first step is being honest with yourself and admitting that you need the help. Remember, pride is the number one killer of all relationships! If you are so proud that you can't be honest about needing help, you probably really need it! Don't be that person. Make the move, take the risk and contact me. If you don't call me, call someone. It is better than paying the price later. And hurting others actually hurts you more. It scars your soul.