Friday, October 5, 2018

Domestic Abuse Misconception #5

(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)

Domestic Abuse Misconception #5: It is easy to tell who is an abuser because he will act like one to everybody. There is no way anybody I know is an abuser.

Oh, how I wish this were true. Then it would be easy to stay away from one. Maybe even easier to get away. It would certainly make it so much easier for the victim to be believed. But that isn't how abuse works.

Abusers come in all shapes and sizes and nationalities and ethnic groups and religions and socio-economic classes with any level of education or none at all. You can't walk up to a crowd of people or sit down at a dinner party or fellowship with people at church and say, "Oh, THAT guy is an abuser." You just can't tell that easily.

One of the biggest obstacles for a victim is to disclose the abuse only to be told by others that there is no way that is happening because her abuser is so very nice.

This is what you need to know.

Abuse is about power and control. It isn't about a bad personality. Abusers can be warm, smart, funny, and completely and utterly charming. They are the ultimate wolves in sheep's clothing. Most abusers do so in private, behind closed doors. Those who physically abuse their victims often inflict damage on parts of the body that nobody else will ever see. Emotional abusers may act like Dr. Jekyll in front of others and turn into Mr. Hyde behind closed doors. It is possible for close family and friends not to know of the abuse, even when they see the victim struggling to cope with life.

I have known victims whose children didn't even understand the abuse was happening because it was so very clandestine and the abuser wielded his power and control out of sight of the children (though children witnessing the abuse is much more common and an issue to be addressed in another post).

The point of this post is that you cannot assume that just because a person doesn't seem like his is abuser, he isn't. Abusers are masters at manipulation and changing a narrative to their benefit. There are, however, red flags to look for. I will share those tomorrow.

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