Why do people abuse ones they love? What motivates someone to control another person? Verbal abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse all come from a need to control. The more research you do on abusive relationships, the more you realize that abuse has a close relationship with desires for control.
It is human nature to feel a need to control our surroundings and, to some degree the people we have relationships with. It is that need to control that is at times the main factor in the destruction of our relationships.
Some instances of control are not destructive or abusive. Mothers tend to worry about their children and the family unit, which may turn into tendencies to control situations. Though usually this is not considered outright abuse, there are factors that may slip into controlling behavior patterns which may cross the line. It is what a person does with the stress and emotional discomfort they feel when out of control that determines whether or not they become verbal, physical, or emotional abusers.
The Difference Between Concern and a Control Freak
There are those who have feelings of fear, worthlessness, inadequacy, and shame that turn into control freaks. Feelings of their own self-worth are tied to how well they can get others to bend to their whims and to follow their orders. They have a driving need to get control of their lives, which means controlling circumstances, and people—especially the people from whom they need love and affirmation. Once you start trying to force that kind of control over people, conflict will follow.
Control freaks have a low tolerance for any kind of emotional pain. Especially feelings of shame, fear and rejection of what they believe to be right and wrong. When something happens in their life to bring forth these intolerable emotions they find ways to cope and normally their coping skills mean abuse for those in relationships with the control freak.
Below is a list of five coping skills a control freak might resort to, in order to get their way:
- Yelling, screaming, using degrading and demeaning language.
- Shutting down and not talking or responding to your need to discuss the problems.
- Withholding affection, financial help or anything else they think you need from them.
- Hitting, shoving, punching, kicking.
- Drinking, doing drugs and other addictive behaviors.
Each of the above behaviors is an attempt by the abuser to tranquilize the intolerable emotional pain they feel when feeling out of control. Instead of looking internally and trying to figure out why they have such negative emotions they bury the pain, live in denial of it and distort the reality of their behaviors. How often have you heard an abuser blame the person they abuse for their actions? It is easier to blame someone else for bad behavior than to admit they need help and to face those painful emotions head-on.
If you are living in an abusive relationship you should leave and leave immediately. Control what you have control over and that is your own physical and mental well-being.
When we love someone, it is easy to make excuses, to hang on and hope someone will change. This article is not meant to encourage anyone to excuse abusive behavior. It will, however, help you see what is behind the abusive behavior. Once you understand that, it is less likely that you blame yourself and buy into what you are being told by your abuser.