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Why People Perpetrate Family Trauma (Part 3)

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Throughout this series, we’ve spoken a lot about what leads the perpetrators of family trauma to lash out against their families. While there are a lot of reasons why people abuse their intimate partner, none of them are ever right. Unfortunately, the reasons don’t end there either. Here are the rest of the reasons why people abuse their partner.

They don’t understand boundaries.

Instead, they see their partner as an extension of themselves – one who shouldn’t have any boundaries either.

They act out of fear.

When this happens, they start demanding that you do as they say. This is like a grown-up “temper tantrum.”

They don’t have any empathy.

This makes it much easier for them to abuse someone else because they don’t care how that person feels. Honestly, I feel that empathy is something that was lacking from both my parents and Chuck. However, for some reason, I’m the one who’s developed a great deal of intimacy.

They have a personality disorder that leads them to inflict family trauma.

Of course, not everyone with a personality disorder is abusive. This means that people who don’t accurately perceive reality are more likely to be abusive, especially if they can’t or don’t see their behavior as abusive. For instance, I tend to attract people who are narcissistic. This is a personality disorder in which a person thinks they’re more important than everyone else and thus their need to remain the center of attention can become one of the reasons why people abuse other people around them.

They’re exhausted.

Obviously, this doesn’t give them the right to lash out at people around them but it frequently happens. You can think of this as a “mental breakdown.” Everything that’s been kept pent up inside the person comes pouring out in a destructive way. My father is an example of this. He’s very passive-aggressive where he’ll hold everything inside until he’s tired of doing so and then he simply explodes in a rage, reigning down more family trauma.

They’re defensive.

Here different mechanisms (e.g., suppression, denial, regression, projection) are used in hopes of defending themselves once they’ve been backed into a corner. Once this happens the person will come out swinging and cause family trauma. There are many things that they could be defensive about. Honestly, I believe that my father is an example of this too. I feel like he had an unnatural need to protect my mother from something – possibly the fact that she was physically and mentally abusing me. Regardless, he’s either chosen to suppress the fact that it was happening or be in complete denial of the fact. In either case, he became defensive of his family. Obviously, this is going to become exhausting after a while which then led to his passive aggressiveness.

Regardless of the reason, you’re NOT responsible!

Clearly, there isn’t only one reason at work behind the scenes causing family trauma. There’s a mix of reasons why people abuse their partners and their children. These reasons are like a vicious cycle. Usually, once you have figured out one of the reasons why people abuse others, more reasons become apparent. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I think one of my previous therapists said it best, “It’s like an onion with many layers.”

The bottom line is that regardless of the reasons why people abuse their family and children they’re still perpetrators. As a victim you need help. You need support so that you can heal. For this, you can turn to Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh. We’re here to help you find wholeness and lead your best life. Reach out to us today.


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