An Introduction to Abusive Behavior

DenaFebruary 4, 2022

Bullying does not just happen to children. Adults can be bullies too. Adult bullying behavior is also called abusive, violent, unstable, narcissistic and psychopathic, to name a few. Whatever word you use to describe it, abusive behavior is at the center of it.

First let’s address the why. People become abusers for a whole host of reasons, too many to list. They were abused themselves. They have intense insecurity issues. They developed abusive behavior as a coping mechanism to some other trauma. The list goes on. In any case, it happens.

It’s also important to remember that it takes two in order for abuse to occur. There is an abuser and there is the abused. Likewise, the abused became susceptible to abuse for a reason. This is not victim-blaming, it is a fact. Some are prone to abuse and are even attracted to abusive personalities because of how “love” was modeled to them at some point in their lives.

Abuse occurs for a variety of reasons often related to a power-structure dynamic. The abuser has control over the abused in some way. Perhaps the abuser is a boss, a landlord, a teacher, a parent, or some other individual that has natural authority and abuses it. The pair can also be peers, friends, lovers, siblings. Abusive behavior can crop up in almost any dynamic.

So what do we do about it? I’m not going to speak about domestic violence today because it cannot be addressed simply. It is so complicated that nothing could address it in a few short paragraphs. I’m going to talk about bullying behavior where there is no imminent danger.

In these cases, two things must be done. First, the abused needs to make an active decision to change the situation. Next, they must pursue all means necessary to put an end to the abuse. (I say that the abused should do this because it is very rare that an abuser will make a decision to change such a circumstance of their own accord.) This can be incredibly difficult and unnatural, especially if the person is a people-pleaser of any sort. The abused will need to utilize any resources at their disposal, including family, friends, and even legal action.

The abused will struggle to pursue such means. It is in their nature to “give in,” to resolve things peacefully, to avoid conflict at all costs. This is why an abuser chooses a person like this as a target. They know that they can get away with it. But once their victim has had enough, sometimes they will finally do the work to put an end to the situation. At this point, the abuser may ramp up their abusive behaviors to try and intimidate their victim into not taking action. But the victim must not be deterred.

Abuse is never okay. It is never acceptable and it should not be tolerated. It is a hugely unfortunate part of life, but it does happen. Gratefully we live in a society that is beginning to wake up to the reality of abuse that occurs in so many areas of life. There are resources available to help victims of abuse. Here are some that may help.

If you are a victim of abuse at work, you should be able to reach out to your human resources staff for assistance. If there is no HR staff, reach out to a trusted colleague or another person in a position to help. If there is no one that can help you, you may be forced to leave your job because being in a position where there is no one who can help you is simply not safe. Your mental health (and eventually physical health) can be severely damaged. No job is worth it.

If you are a victim of abuse in any other circumstance, it may be best to remove yourself from it. You may want to “keep trying,” but truly allowing abuse to continue is never worth it.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not addressing the issue of domestic violence today, I may address this here one day, but it is far too much to address in this post. However, if this is an issue for you, the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US is: 800-799-7233 and the website is:

I write this piece today as victim of abuse myself. I have experienced abuse in many forms. I truly was the definition of the abused and would go to any length to keep peace and avoid conflict. At this point in my life, I have finally implemented many changes that protect me from being abused. I am no longer afraid to set boundaries, to defend myself or to do whatever it takes to protect my peace. It isn’t easy, in fact it’s incredibly difficult–painful even–for me to put myself first and refuse to accept abusive behaviors that are directed toward me. But I am committed to this practice. I know that I deserve it and so does everyone else in this world. We are all entitled to peace and fair treatment.

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