There have been many studies published on the effectiveness of domestic violence programs used to treat men who abuse their partners. Various researchers have performed meta-analyses on those studies to aggregate our knowledge on what we know about reforming abusive people. Unfortunately, the research so far has been rather depressing.
Steve Jobs was widely celebrated after he had died. But he left behind a very questionable legacy in terms of how he treated other human beings. His abusive behaviours have been documented in his biography by Walter Isaacson, by his friends, by his daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and by Chrisann Brennan (Lisa’s mother and Steve Jobs’ ex-girlfriend). Jobs had famously denied paternity of his daughter and absurdly claimed in court papers that he was “sterile and infertile”. His daughter and ex-girlfriend have detailed his emotional abuse in their books. Lisa discusses how her father continued to put her down shortly before his death and that she had given up on “the possibility of a grand reconciliation, the kind in the movies”.
As a society, we need to stop enabling abuse. Emotional violence occasionally has a cost to shareholders. More importantly, it has devastating effects on its victims. We need to stop whitewashing “successful” people simply because we admire their achievements and accomplishments.
Toxic people have disturbing emotional needs that cause them to intentionally hurt others. There are two main reasons why toxic people hurt others:
Narcissism. Narcissists are people who are desperate for others to see them in a good light. They need others to constantly validate them with adoration, adulation, and admiration. If they do not get it, they will devalue others. If they can’t be seen as a giant, they will try to turn everybody else into midgets.
Control. Sociopaths and psychopaths desperately need to hurt and control others to feel safe. They sabotage others and try to make them miserable so that they don’t feel powerless.
(Note that some abusers are both narcissistic and controlling.)
If you stop supplying your abuser with validation, they will stop seeing you as their go-to source of emotional supply. You can take away their reasons for abusing you.
We all form illogical connections in our brains. For example, most of us have a problem with procrastination. When we think about homework (or other unpleasant tasks), we feel a sense of dread. However, procrastination is an illogical behavior because putting something off makes the problem even worse. Our feelings can lead us down the wrong path. When we finally do the task that we’ve been putting off, it’s never quite as bad as we imagined it. Our brains make a highly illogical connection between putting something off and the immediate relief of avoiding an unpleasant task. The erroneous connection can cause us to do things that don’t benefit us.
In most cases, abuse is complicated rather than simple. You may be confused and disturbed as to why the abuse victim didn’t simply leave as soon as the abuse started. While the victim does NOT like being abused, their actions may seem to be highly inconsistent with not wanting abuse. Unfortunately, it is quite common for abuse victims to stay in the abusive situation (or want to return to the abuse) because they want validation from their abuser. This article will look at what you can do to help them get out of their predicament.
If you are on the receiving end of toxicity and find it incredibly difficult to leave, that’s normal. Abuse victims regularly stay in the hope that their abuser will change and finally validate them. Or if they leave, they still feel compelled to go back or find closure.
But here’s another way of looking at the situation: there is an ‘abuser’ inside the victim’s brain that is holding them back. That abusive part of the brain is telling them that it is a “good” idea to seek validation from their abuser. The brain illogically tells the victim that they did something wrong to “cause” the abuse or that they were abused because they are worthless. Even after the victim leaves or the abusive person dies, the abusive brain can still live on and disrupt the victim’s life.
Restraining orders can help you end harassment and stalking. If the restraining order is violated and there is proof that the violation happened, the courts will punish the offender harder and harder until they finally stop.
To be brutally honest, abuse victims are disadvantaged in legal proceedings because everyday people will have great difficulty understanding the victim’s counterintuitive behavior. Many judges will wrongly assume that abuse victims will immediately flee when they are in danger. Most people are deeply disturbed and confused when abuse victims go back to their abuser. Fans of the pop star Rihanna were quite unhappy and perplexed when she went back to the man who brutally beat her.
Most abuse victims erroneously believe that they are somehow responsible for their abuse. This is because our brains constantly draw connections between our actions and the consequences of those actions, sometimes coming to conclusions where none should be made. When we procrastinate, it’s because our unconscious brain thinks that procrastination is a “good” idea because it creates immediate relief from an unpleasant task. Obviously, procrastination is a terrible idea as it often makes the unpleasant task even more unpleasant. In abusive situations, it is normal for the victim’s brain to wrongly conclude that the abuse is happening because the victim is not ‘good enough’. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When abusers start cutting down their victims, they do not hand them a guide on what they should and shouldn’t do. Here are some pointers on how to avoid common mistakes made by those trapped in an abusive situation.