Why People Abuse Abuse is never okay. Learn why people abuse.

two people sitting together on the couch
two people sitting together on the couch

Domestic violence stems from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partner’s lives. This is often because they believe their own feelings and needs should be prioritized in the relationship or because they enjoy exerting the power that such abuse gives them.

Tactics of abuse (in any form) are aimed at dismantling equality in the relationship in order to make their partners feel less valuable and undeserving of respect.

Remember that everyone deserves to have a healthy, loving, and respectful relationship—no matter what.

Why people abuse

Abuse is a learned behavior. Some people witness it in their own families growing up. Others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or structural inequities throughout our society. No matter where they develop such behaviors, those who commit abusive acts choose to do so — they also could choose not to.

Many people experience or witness abuse and use their experiences to end the cycle of violence. They also take steps to heal themselves without harming others. While outside factors (including drug or alcohol addiction) can escalate abuse, it’s important to recognize that these issues do not cause domestic violence.

Who does abuse affect?

Anyone can be abusive, and anyone can be the victim of abuse. Abuse happens regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, economic status, ability, citizenship status, or any other factor or identity. Feelings of confusion, fear, or anger are normal responses to abuse. Additionally, abuse may make you feel isolated or like no one will understand. Remember that expert advocates from The Hotline are available 24/7. They can talk through your situation and help you build a safety plan tailored to your circumstances.

Being abusive is a decision: it’s a strategic behavior by your partner to create their desired power dynamic.

Regardless of the circumstances of your relationship or past, no one ever deserves to be abused and you’re never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.

Domestic violence can also strain the people who witness, intervene, or recognize the tragic realities of relationship abuse. It can be painful and draining — physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially — to watch the people in our lives abuse or be abused. In that regard, we are all impacted by any and all forms of abuse. This means it’s on each of us to take steps in our daily interactions to end and prevent future abusive behavior.

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Beyond the physical risks of leaving an abusive relationship, there are countless other reasons why people stay in their relationships. Survivors deserve to be supported in their decision-making and empowered to reclaim control over their own lives—no matter the circumstances.