Is it truly possible for a person to change? Is our behavior learned, or do certain predilections pass down to us from our parents and other forebears? Are we born to be angry, mean, and violent, or do we evolve to become abusive because of the circumstances of our childhood and trauma we've experienced?
Most behavioral experts—and laypeople, too, for that matter—hedge their bets and attribute patterns of abusive actions to a combination of nature and nurture. While it may be difficult, even extraordinarily so, to rewrite the fundamental qualities that define our personality, it is possible. Read on to learn more about how to recognize the signs of abusive behavior in yourself. We'll also suggest some practical techniques to help you truly transform your past poor behavior and become your best self.
A Predisposition to Intimate Partner Violence?
As the old cliché goes, “hurt people hurt people.” One relatively strong indicator for abusive tendencies that fall under the umbrella of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is whether the abuser was mistreated or abused as a child. While having suffered a difficult or traumatic childhood is not a guarantee that someone will end up violent, controlling, and manipulative, looking at the individual's history is nevertheless a useful exercise. Those who were raised in an unhealthy environment often internalize dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes.
You likely know if your parents' relationship was marked by physical violence, but it's also possible that verbal or emotional abuse took place behind closed doors, without the child(ren) knowing. It's worth examining your memories of childhood, talking to siblings about your parents' relationship or their treatment of you, and maybe even confronting a parent to look for insight or closure.
Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions—and Answer Honestly
Of course, not all abusive people exhibit the exact same behaviors, and there are degrees of abusiveness, as well. That said, a few demonstrative behaviors do tend to crop up in the majority of people who abuse others—whether physically or emotionally. Ask yourself these questions, and be honest:
- Do I get jealous when my partner is spending time with others?
- Am I afraid that my partner will leave me?
- Do I put my partner down or belittle them?
- When my partner flubs up in some way, do I punish them by withholding affection or sex?
- Is it difficult for me to make apologies, even when I know I should?
- When things go wrong, do I accept my share of the blame, or do I try to point fingers at my partner?
- After an argument, do I give my partner “the silent treatment,” waiting for them to apologize first?
- Do I hold grudges or dredge up complaints or issues from the past rather than focusing on the relationship as it currently stands?
- Do I feel consumed or overwhelmed by anger?
- When I'm angry, do I tend to lash out by throwing objects, punching the wall, or hurling insults and epithets at my partner?
- Have I ever threatened to leave my partner or kick them out if they don't change their behavior?
- Have my previous relationships been healthy ones, or have I left a legacy of partners who want nothing more to do with me?
It's not easy to put your own behavior under the microscope and take a good look at what you see. However, if you want to change your ways—or nip a potential problem in the bud—and pursue a healthy, strong relationship, it's necessary to be honest, starting with yourself.
Have your overwhelming emotions and angry impulses gotten the better of you and caused a partner to take out a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against you? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help with the legal ramifications of abusive and/or violent behavior while you turn to therapists and other professionals to effect positive changes in your behavior. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3868 or filling out this form.
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