Who are the victims, and who are the abusers?
Victim identity is focus on damages suffered at the hands of other people. The desire to be identified as a victim creates a sense of entitlement and a motive to devalue anyone who does not offer special recognition and validation of victim status or compensation for it.
In our Age of Entitlement, it is often difficult for friends and therapists to detect abuse in intimate relationships and to discern who the primary abuser is. This is especially hard in cases of emotional abuse, with no objective evidence like police reports or medical records.
The following characteristics of primary abusers and victims are not foolproof, but I have found them to be highly reliable, based on the dramatic change of attitudes by the end of treatment.
Research and clinical experience clearly indicates that abusers are likely to:
- Underreport, hide, minimize, or justify their abusive behavior
- Describe themselves as victims
- Feel abused when their partners disagree with them or don’t do what they want
- Label their partners’ behavior as abusive
- Attribute malevolent intent to their partners’ positive behavior (manipulative, deceptive)
- Pathologize their partners (emotional or personality disorder, incompetence)
- Use negative labels (nag, irrational, hysterical, lazy, unreliable)
- Have great difficulty describing their partners’ perspectives
- Show little or no compassion
- Exhibit self-righteousness