Statistics show that intimate partner abuse, including domestic
violence, has declined by one half in the last decade in the United
States. Jay Silverman and Gail Williamson demonstrated in "Social
Ecology and Entitlements Involved in Battering by Heterosexual
College Males" (published in Violence and Victims, Volume 12,
Number 2 (Spring 1997) that abuse is best predicted by two factors:
the belief that mistreatment is justified and the succor of
These two facts elucidate the cultural and social roots of
abusive behavior. Abuse is bound to be found in patriarchal,
narcissistic, or misogynistic collectives. Many societies exhibit
cross sections of these three traits. Thus, most patriarchal groups
are also misogynistic, either overtly and ideologically so - or
covertly and in denial.
Paradoxically, women's lib initially makes things worse. The
first period of social dislocation - when gender roles are
redefined - often witnesses a male backlash in the form of last
ditch patriarchy and last resort violence, trying to restore the
"ancien regime". But as awareness and acceptance of women's equal
rights grow, abuse is frowned upon and, consequently, declines.
Alas, four fifths of humanity are far from this utopian state of
things. Even in the most prosperous, well-educated, and egalitarian
societies of the West there are sizable pockets of ill-treatment
that cut across all demographic and social-economic categories.
Women are physically weaker and, despite recent strides,
economically deprived or restricted. This makes them ideal victims
- dependent, helpless, devalued. Even in the most advanced
societies, women are still expected to serve their husbands,
maintain the family, surrender their autonomy, and abrogate their
choices and preferences if incompatible with the ostensible
Women are also widely feared. The more primitive, poorer, or
less educated the community - the more women are decried as evil
temptresses, whores, witches, possessors of mysterious powers,
defilers, contaminants, inferior, corporeal (as opposed to
spiritual), subversive, disruptive, dangerous, cunning, or
Violence is considered by members of such collectives a
legitimate means of communicating wishes, enforcing discipline,
coercing into action, punishing, and gaining the approval of kin,
kith, and peers. To the abuser, the family is an instrument of
gratification - economic, narcissistic, and sexual. It is a mere
extension of the offender's inner world, and, thus, devoid of
autonomy and independent views, opinions, preferences, needs,
choices, emotions, fears, and hopes.
The abuser feels that he is entirely within his rights to impose
his species of order in his own impregnable "castle". The other
members of the household are objects. He reacts with violent rage
to any proof or reminder to the contrary. Moreover, his view of the
family is embedded in many legal systems, supported by norms and
conventions, and reflected in social arrangements.
But abusive behavior is frequently the outcome of objective
societal and cultural factors.
Abuse and violence are "intergenerationally transmitted".
Children who grow up in dysfunctional and violent families - and
believe that the aggression was justified - are vastly more likely
to become abusive parents and spouses.
Social stresses and anomy and their psychological manifestations
foster intimate partner violence and child abuse. War or civil
strife, unemployment, social isolation, single parenthood,
prolonged or chronic sickness, unsustainably large family, poverty,
persistent hunger, marital discord, a new baby, a dying parent, an
invalid to be cared for, death of one's nearest and dearest,
incarceration, infidelity, substance abuse - have all proven to be
I can only answer from experience. I found the reason that I am now
self labled as an abuser is because of my past. I had no control as
a child and as an adult I joined the military where I had even less
control. Now being out of the military I am married with two kids
and I want to control everything. That is not the way to go. This
has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. Trying to
heal and change almost everything you know is very difficult but it
should not ever be the responsiblity of others. They did not make
you who you are. Everyone has a choice of how they want to act.
In more simple words. The only way to be able to behave like an
abuser is having not enough respect for another being. A lack of
respect can be caused by many factors. Most often it is learned
behaviour. Like children who are spoiled rotten. Spoiling a child
is not learning a child to have respect for others.
"What causes someone to become an abuser?"
I agree. Learned behaviour and reinforced environments
Although, I agree with many of the statements made in the answer
it is flawed due to not taking into account that both sexes batter,
in both heterosexual and homosexual relations. I will freely admit
that majority is male (batterer) and female (survivor).