Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Why Do Abusers Abuse Others?

Woman pointing and bullying you after you asked her "Why do abusers abuse? You should know!"

What Makes Someone Abusive?

When abusers abuse, it’s a shock to our system. Everything leading up to the first abusive incident couldn’t prepare you for the emotional pain.

Remember in the beginning when your partner seemed to love every ounce of you? Remember how you could share everything? Your abuser wanted you – really. Your partner wanted to eat you up, every ounce of you because you had something they wanted for themselves. So what changed? Why do abusers abuse?

Abusers Abuse Because They Don’t Feel, They Mimic

Unlike feeling people, unlike you, your abuser is only an observer of human behavior. Unlike you, an authentic human being, your abuser must pretend to be authentic by mimicking the behaviors of others.

When your abuser ‘loved’ you, they loved you because you taught them something new, showed them something unfamiliar, and broadened their horizon. You enriched their dictionary on what it means to be human.


You have felt this infatuation before – kind of how you may absolutely adore a wonderful auntie or maybe a celebrity. You know that you can never “be” that person even though they have a gift you admire.

You may even choose to mimic the person you adore to an extent because they have a special something that you want to emulate. You may check in with them often or feel a need to let them know you appreciate their style, their gifts, and their effect on you. That person touched your heart and made you want to be a better person.

Your abuser felt a similar infatuation when they found you. They saw a light in you that they wanted for themselves. But your abuser, not knowing how to feel appreciation for another person, saw only a “thing” they wanted. They saw a zest for life, creativity, warmth, and kindness…the abuser wanted what you had. From the beginning, your abuser looked at you as an object from which they could extract life.

Confusion Makes Abusers Abuse

After studying you for some time and not finding a difference in themselves confused your abuser. You didn’t do what they wanted you to do for them. You did not fill their empty world, their empty heart. You did not give them what they expected. He saw other people “in love” and thought that those two people must give one another some thing because, only able to look at people in a Petri dish, this is a logical conclusion.

Unable to feel, your abuser did not understand what it means to be angry with themselves. They observed that people get angry at one another and act in mean and vicious ways. So they act out those behaviors on you because anger works well – it makes the target want to make the angry outburst stop.

Abusers cannot know that sometimes the source of vicious anger comes from being angry at themselves (because the abuser doesn’t feel like other people do). Chances are, they’ve seen inappropriate anger a thousand times at home, among friends or strangers, and in our media.

Just as they cannot know what it’s like to be angry at themselves, they cannot comprehend loving themselves either. Abusers are empty inside, and they do not have a moment of peace from trying to figure out how to fill the emptiness within.

Victims Want to Help Abusers Stop Abusing

Yes, being empty inside is very sad. Yes, we wish we could be the ones to turn on the feelings for our abusers. We want to see them happy! We think they can feel happy because, in the beginning, looking at them from our vantage point, they certainly acted happy. Don’t make the same mistake your abuser makes. Understand that behavior does not always reflect the truth. Acting and being are two different things.

An abuser’s mind cannot attach itself to their heart. Abusers are cunning and smart, masters at planning, persuasion, and execution. An abuser’s intelligence minus the ability to feel makes him or her dangerous.

How Can Someone Be So Cruel?

Amanda commented on Things Abusers Say and Do: 

I see a lot of my current partner’s abusive behavior on this page. What keeps me from leaving, or from even fully acknowledging the problem, is that I can’t actually imagine someone being so consciously manipulative and cruel. It is difficult for me to believe that such a person could exist.

In my more lucid moments, ironically, sometimes staring into his eyes when we’re in bed, I actually get a glimpse of the truth – that this person is trying to destroy me.

My father was the same way, but it’s still hard for me to see him as anything but a needy child. I mean, if these people don’t know how else to get their needs met, aren’t they innocent in a way?

I guess it doesn’t matter – I keep trying to teach him how to love himself, as I taught myself, but it isn’t sticking, so I need to move on.

Dear Amanda,

Reading a few books will help you get ready to leave. You already intuitively know the truth, but the books will confirm your feelings and mentally clarify exactly what you face if you stay. In other words, these books will help get your head out of your heart and make the hard decisions you need to make.

The Gift of Fear is not necessarily a book about sociopathic or disturbed people. However, it will help you get back in touch with any natural and real fear you need to recognize.

Abusers tend to numb us to fear, and we forget how dangerous they are. This book will help to re-awaken an emotion that is valuable. I suspect you will get a lot out of it because your abusers have “numbed” you practically your whole life.

You may never know if your partner abuses consciously or not. If he does, he will almost certainly never admit it, claiming he doesn’t know what he’s doing. And, if he claims he doesn’t know what he’s doing, you don’t know whether he’s telling the truth or not. The only way to know if your abuser wants to change is by watching his actions.

For you, Amanda, it sounds like you’ve observed him long enough. You know. Now just get your heart and head aligned with the help of the books I mentioned.

Featured photo by Artur Voznenko