What is Abuse — Basics II

Upon what beliefs do an abuser’s fundamental feelings of superiority stand?  What belief structures are behind an abuser’s attitude?  An abuser usually has some presuppositions about people’s positions, whether this is social position, family position, spiritual position, political position, etc.  

 A man may believe that men are the absolute authority of the home and a wife and children are positionally under the husband.  He may believe that a wife is weaker than a husband or is supposed to be in a subjugated position to her husband.  He may believe that his wife was primarily created by God to serve his needs and “complete” him. 

He may believe that his children are his to mold and, therefore, their entire personhood is his to determine and control.  He may believe that since his wife and children are inherently sinful and he is the head of the home, it is his responsibility to discipline the sin out of them.  And since he is the head of the home, all things he values and requires are right, and all things he doesn’t value, dislikes, or doesn’t want his family to do for any reason are wrong, perhaps even sin, for them and, therefore, punishable. 

Control is a central belief to abusers.  An abuser believes he has the right or obligation to control those under his authority.  To “lead” means to “control.”  If an abuser feels that the behavior of those under him is a reflection of his ability to lead, any variation from his direction is an assault on his leadership and an indicator that he has failed.  This failure is intolerable since it is viewed as a personal affront.   

Abusive leaders within a religious framework often believe they have a mandate from God.  They see themselves as representatives of God, bearing God’s delegated authority.  If their authority is ordained by God, any variance from their directives is disobedience not just to them, but to God Himself.  They may use various Scriptures (or parallel religious texts in other religions) as justification for a twisted view of their own position and importance.

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