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Why People Perpetrate Family Trauma (Part 1)

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

One of the first questions someone will ask when leaving a domestic violence situation is “Why’d they do this?” I know this was the first question I wanted an answer to and yet I hadn’t even realized the full scope of the abuse that I’d been through. While I knew that I’d been verbally and mentally abused, I didn’t know that I’d also been emotionally, sexually, financially, and spiritually abused. Thank God I wasn’t physically abused too.


Today I realize that there are many reasons why people abuse their partner, I also realize that none of them are meant to give him empathy or sympathy. Abuse is always wrong. However, by shedding some light on the question of why this family trauma occurs, it’s easier to move on to the business of healing.


With this in mind, here are some reasons why people abuse their partners.


They were abused.


Some abusers act out the abuse they’ve undergone on others. This may or may not be the same thing that was done to them.


I know that this is what happened in my case. Charles admitted that he’d seen family trauma occur between his mother and birth father. He told me about one instance where he was hiding under the table while it was occurring.


Initially, I thought that my abuse with Charles wasn’t the same as what he’d witnessed with his mother. While his mother underwent physical abuse at the hands of his father, I underwent sexual abuse. Later I realized that I was also receiving the same verbal, mental, and emotional abuse that his mother had received. Of course, this is just one of the many reasons why people abuse their partners.


They have anger issues.


Remember, not all family trauma happens between two adults. It can also happen between a parent and their child. In this case, one of the reasons why people abuse their child is because they’re angry. While the source of that anger may vary, typically it’s caused by an unresolved traumatic event. All it takes is a person, circumstance, or place to trigger that uncontrolled and unmanaged anger.


For some reason, I was the one that my mother used to take her anger out on. As I look back on it now, I understand that she had some unresolved family trauma of her own. I’m never going to be certain what that trauma was but throughout my life, she claimed she didn’t have any family. I never knew anyone on her family’s side. All I have is a very faint memory of going to someone’s house when I was really little and meeting my Aunt once when I was older. Unfortunately, this type of family trauma left my mom to lash out at me and now as an adult, I’m repeating the cycle of saying I have no family since my boundaries were violated numerous times by both my father and my mother.


These are only a few of the reasons why people abuse their partners. Since it’s vital to understand the many reasons why family trauma occurs, this series will continue until we’ve spoken about all 12 of the reasons psychologists have notated for this abuse. If at any time throughout this series, you need to reach out to someone, we’re here for you at Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh.


Don't forget to check out part 2!

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