Category Archives: Anger And Violence

How To Control Emotions

 

Emotional Dysregulation

We have seen that significant, protracted childhood trauma, particularly if it leads us to develop borderline personality disorder or complex post traumatic stress disorder, can result in us having extreme difficulty knowing how to control emotions, such as anger and anxiety, as adults : in psychological terms, we are at risk of developing emotional dysregulation.

Sometimes, intense emotions become so painful that, as a defense mechanism, we shut our these feelings down (we may do this deliberately by using alcohol and drugs, or it might happen automatically – in the latter case we are said to be dissociating).

REASONS SOME INDIVIDUALS KEEP THEIR EMOTIONS ‘BURIED.’

Some people try to keep their emotions ‘buried’ (suppressed). There can be a number of reasons for this, including:

– growing up in a household in which any display of emotions and feelings was considered a sign of weakness or ‘not the done thing’

– being in an occupation in which displays of emotions are not encouraged e.g.police, military

– fear of losing respect

– fear of losing control

THE PROBLEM OF SUPPRESSED FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS:

However, keeping feelings and emotions buried takes up large amounts of mental energy and means they tend to be kept simmering beneath the surface, building up pressure and ready to explode.

And, very often, the emotion of anger is the one that is nearest to the surface, and therefore the one that is most frequently experienced and expressed.

HOWEVER, anger very often conceals, and has its primary roots in, the fundamental emotions of FEAR and HURT.

So, in fact, very often, when we express anger, what we are really expressing is this fear and hurt; to put it concisely:


OUR FEAR AND HURT IS MASQUERADING AS ANGER.


 

Acknowledging Our True, Authentic Feelings And Having The Courage To Express Them:

It is therefore necessary to become aware of the real feelings behind our anger, feelings that are likely to be intensely painful and that we have preferred not to acknowledge (or even not allowed ourselves to become consciously aware of) and to start the process of expressing them, understanding their origins, working through them and resolving them (ideally with a highly trained, professional therapist).

By getting in touch with our feelings beneath our anger, and working through them therapeutically, we can reduce or overcome outbursts of rage, self-destructive behavior and bodily complaints such as fatigue.

If we do not get in touch with feelings such as hurt and fear (completely normal emotions that everyone experiences to one degree or another), but instead keep them ‘locked out’ and ‘buried’ , we pay the very high price of not being able to get in touch with, experience or express positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, too. Our aim is to feel comfortable with all our emotions and to channel them constructively.

How To Control Emotions :

In order to control our emotions we can apply certain skills, such as:

– learning to identify what we are feeling and linguistically label our emotions e.g. ‘anger’, ‘fear’ etc – when we verbally name our emotions and describe them in spoken (or, indeed, written) language we are more likely to be able to control them and are less likely to act them out.

– acknowledge and accept emotions nonjudgmentally (as taught through mindfulness).

– change our thinking. Our feelings are connected to our thinking processes – consider trying cognitive therapy which can help retrain our thinking style and which, in turn, can lead to much improved emotional experiences.


Links to resources relating to how to control emotions shown below:

Control Anger Pack (Download or CD). Click here.

How To Control Emotions(Download or CD). Click here.


 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

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Effects Of Authoritarian Parents

 childhood_trauma

What Are Authoritarian Parents?

Authoritarian parents are strict, endeavour to exercise strong control over their children, may use corporal punishment such as smacking, often raise their voices and shout at their offspring, and oppressively restrict their lives.

Whilst the way in which they punish their children is often unusually severe, they tend to compound the resulting ill effects by failing to explain to the child why s/he is being punished.

Furthermore, they often pay little regard to their children’s feelings and emotions.

Such parental behaviour may be relatively ‘well-meaning’ when they believe they are acting in their children’s ‘best interests’ – preparing them, as they see it, for an adult life in which they will need to be tough enough to cope with a ‘cruel, unforgiving, dog-eat-dog world’, rather like a sargent major preparing his troops for battle by enforcing a harsh training regime. In other words, the authoritarian parent’s rule of thumb may often be ‘it’s for your own good…’

However, such parental behaviour, even when well intentioned, can cause the child to develop numerous problems later on in adolescence and adulthood; I provide examples of these below:

1) The child may develop poor social skills.

This problem may arise as the child has grown up following his parents’ instructions in social situations rather than having been given the opportunity to learn through trial-and-error and on his/her own intiative. For example, as a child s/he may have been instructed only to speak to adults when spoken to, or to be ‘seen but not heard.’

authoritarian_parents

2a) Because of the way in which authoritarian parents may condition or ‘program’ their children, they (the children) may grow up to be :

  • highly conformist (i.e. acting in line with the prevailing views and attitudes of others, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong to do so)
  • unthinkingly obedient (making them vulnerable to exploitation)
  • excessively self-blaming (consciously or unconsciously inferring, erroneously, that they must be ‘intrinsically bad’ for having so frequently incurred such severe parental wrath).
  • more than averagely susceptible to depression

2b) However, the reverse may also occur (depending, in part, upon the child’s particular temperament), namely : the child may develop into an adolescent/young adult who is highly rebellious due to the anger and resentment s/he harbours against his/her parents for their excessively controlling behaviour. 

These individuals, too, may be highly self-blaming and self-critical and turn to drink/drugs in an attempt to reduce such painful emotions.

 

Effects On Conscience:

Research suggests that children who are harshly punished but are given no proper explanation as to why they are being punished (e.g. it is not explained to them that their behaviour has had a harmful effect on others) tend merely to learn not to get caught rather than to change their behaviour because it preys on their conscience.

In other words, they are less likely to develop a strong conscience and, if they choose to avoid doing wrong, this may be more due to reasons of expedience rather than of morality.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Freeing Ourselves From Anger About Our Past.

let_go_of_anger

It is far from uncommon for those of us who have experienced a traumatic childhood to remain angry and resentful about the past, specifically, perhaps, about how our parents badly treated us. This can result in us bearing grudges and feeling bitter for years, decades, or even for a whole lifetime.

We have all heard the expression, ‘forgive and forget’, but how applicable is it to the kind of situation that I have just described?

Well, first of all, it is not possible to forget (unless, that is, we have unconsciously repressed the memories of what happened to us as a means of psychological defense).

But what about forgiveness? As we are all different, and as our past experiences are also all different, this boils down to a matter of personal choice. Notwithstanding this, many psychologists advocate forgiveness, not least because the act of forgiving is very likely to benefit us, and, of course, the flip side of this is that a decision NOT to forgive is liable to damage us.

let_go_of_past

How Does Remaining Angry Harm Us?

If we constantly brood about how we were wronged in the past this can be mentally exhausting and cause us to feel perpetually anguished, unhappy and unable to enjoy the present or look forward to the future.

It also gives more power to those who wronged us : not only have they hurt us in the past, but, by refusing to let go of what they did to us, we allow them to keep us unhappy, both now and in the future. To put it colloquially, we permit them to score a double whammy against us.

By staying angry, bitter and resentful we may perpetuate a self-destructive feeling of unresolved anger (which we may displace onto others, ruining our relationships); emotionally exhaust ourselves with constant feelings of animosity and, in some cases, hatred; get caught up in a futile mental cycle of revenge fantasies and of waiting for those who hurt us to make amends (which, sadly, often never happens).

Moving On:

Instead of inflicting this pointless mental suffering on ourselves, we have the option to take what lessons we can from our adverse experiences and move forward with our lives, perhaps even turning these adverse experiences to our own advantage, in as far as this may be possible.

The Bottom Line :

The bottom line is straight-forward :

Does holding on to anger, bitterness and resentment make our present lives, and future prospects, better or worse?

It is, of course, up to each individual to decide.

Resources:

LET IT GO : self-hypnosis downloadable MP3. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Alice Miller: ‘Hitler’s Childhood Helped To Cause WW2’

 

Hitler's childhood

The Significance Of Hitler’s Childhood According To Alice Miller :

The Swiss psychoanalyst, Alice Miller, was of the view that most people repress their memories of childhood trauma and may be in such extreme denial about the way their parents mistreated them that they may actually, on a conscious level, idealize them rather than castigate them. This acts as a psychological defense mechanism : protecting the individual from the painful truth.

Nevertheless, Miller suggests, the unconscious rage they feel against their parents constantly fizzes beneath the surface looking for an outlet. This outlet takes the form of displacement (the redirecting of one’s rage onto innocent victims).

An exceptionally rare and extreme example of individuals who may act out this process of repression, denial and displacement is that of some serial killers. However, Miller provides an even more extreme example, that of the tyrant and fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s childhood was abusive ; indeed, Adolf Hitler, as a child, was severely physically abused by his father (Alois) who would regularly fly into uncontrollable rages and beat his son. Sometimes, Adolf Hitler’s mother would intervene in order to try to physically protect her son, only to be beaten by her husband herself as a consequence.

Hitler_as_child

  • Above: Adolf Hitler’s childhood was abusive

One effect of this on Adolf Hitler is that he began to bully his sister which took the form of hitting her, just as he was hit by his father.


‘The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.’

– Florian Beierl


In modern day terms, then, Adolf Hitler’s family was highly dysfunctional, and this had a damaging psychological effect on him as evidenced not only by his bullying of his sister, but also by the fact that in his teens he became increasingly reclusive, resentful and emotionally unstable (particularly when interacting with his father).

According to Miller, Hitler’s terrible and horrific actions can be traced back to this dysfunctional childhood; according to Miller, his heinous actions as an adult were driven by a psychotic and deranged lust for ‘revenge on the world’ for his childhood suffering.

Miller also argues that many high ranking SS officers had also suffered abusive childhoods, as had other tyrants such as Mao and Stalin.

Miller’s ideas have been criticized for being overly simplistic, so she is something of a controversial figure.

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Early Signs Of Psychosis

 

early signs of psychosis

We have seen through other articles that I have published on this site that, all else being equal, those who experienced a chronically stressful and traumatic childhood are more likely to develop a psychotic condition during their adulthood than are their more fortunate contemporaries who experienced relatively stable childhoods.

However, usually a person does not suddenly become psychotic. Instead, the onset of psychosis is often a gradual process and sometimes individuals may start to show possible signs of incipient psychosis in their teens.

So what are the early warning signs? I provide a list based on the most current research in this area below. However, it is important to realize these symptoms are NOT specific to psychosis, they may also be due to numerous other conditions or set of personal psychosis. Anyone worried they or someone else may be psychotic or may be developing psychosis should seek an expert opinion and NOT attempt an amateur diagnosis based on the symptoms that follow.

early_signs_of_psychosis

Possible Early Signs That A Person May Be Becoming Psychotic:

These signs may be split into six categories as follows:

1) Cognitive symptoms

2) Neurotic symptoms

3) Changes in mood

4) Changes in volition

5) Behavioral symptoms

6) Physical symptoms

Let’s look at each of these six categories below:

Cognitive Symptoms:

– problems with concentration/attention/mental focus

– frequent daydreaming/ retreating into fantasy worlds

– thought blocking (a sudden lapse into silence during conversation due to the mind ‘going blank’. This most frequently occurs when the individual is asked about something that is, consciously or unconsciously, psychologically disturbing to him/her. It is a psychological defense mechanism and form of repression.)

– reduced ability to think in abstract terms

Neurotic Symptoms:

– restlessness/agitation

– anger

– irritability

Changes in Mood:

– guilt

– suicidal ideation

– depression

– mood swings

– anhedonia (an inability to derive pleasure from people, events or circumstances – a feeling of emptiness, flatness and numbness)

Change in Volition:

– loss of drive

– loss of interest in events, activities and people that used to interest one

– feelings of apathy and fatigue and a general lack of energy

Behavioural Symptoms:

– social withdrawal

– drop in standard of school/college work

– increase in impulsivity

– increasingly odd/strange behaviour

– aggression

– destructiveness

Physical Symptoms:

– weight loss

– poor appetite

– sleep problems

For more information on psychosis, including treatment options, I provide the following very informative and helpful link:

NHS: Information About Psychosis

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Why We May Severely Over-react To Minor Stressors.

Over react stress

We have seen from previous articles that I have posted on this site that, if we suffered chronic stress during our childhood, our ability to deal with stress as adults can be drastically diminished, making it difficult to cope with the daily stressors that others may easily be able to take in their stride.

We may, for example, become disproportionately enraged if we temporarily misplace our keys, inadvertently snap a shoe-lace, or are thwarted in our vehicular progress down the street by a succession of obstinately and infuriatingly red traffic lights.

The reason for such overreactions can lie in the fact that our chronically stressful childhoods have disrupted the process in the brain associated with the production of stress hormones.

In particular, levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol may have become chronically too high.

It follows that, when we experience a minor stressor, too much adrenaline and cortisol are released. Let’s look at the effect that these two stress hormones have upon the body:

1) The Effect Of Adrenaline On The Body:

– causes heart rate to increase

– causes blood pressure to go up

– causes breathing rate to become more rapid (sometimes leading hyperventilation, a distressing reaction associated with panic).

2) The Effect Of Cortisol On The Body:

– transports energy to muscles by diverting it from areas of the body where it is not immediately needed (such as the stomach).

So, the effects of adrenaline and cortisol combined are to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’, as if we were being threatened by a ravenously hungry tiger (when, in fact, we are just stuck in traffic or have mislaid our keys etc). In such a case, energy builds up in the body which is not dissipated, causing great tension.

 

Why do people overreact?

Above: Over-reacting to minor stressors can be caused by chemical/hormonal inbalances resulting from a chronically stressful childhood.

In order to attempt to free ourselves from this unpleasant feeling of tension, we may try to partly dissipate it by shouting obscenities or pounding our fists against some wholly innocent inanimate object (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as a displacement activity).

In other words:

We are responding to minor stressors as if they posed severe, even life-threatening, danger. Our brain is preparing us for fight or flight because it has grossly overestimated the risk the minor stressor poses to us. It is ‘fooled’ into making this error due to the disruption of the body’s system that produces adrenalin and cortisol caused by our chronically stressful childhood.

And, following the same logic, when we’re unfortunate enough to experience major stressful events in our adult lives, we may find ourselves going into nuclear meltdown, utterly overwhelmed and unable to cope.

eBook:

brain damage caused by childhood trauma.  depression and anxiety

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Reduce everyday stress.      Reduce Everyday Stress. Click here for further information.

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Holding On To Chronic Anger Can Harm Us.

chronic_anger

I remained angry at my parents for a very long time indeed. I would repress it for lengthy periods, but it was always lying dormant, waiting for a trigger that would cause it to erupt. My outbursts of rage,therefore, were intermittent, and would tend to occur at times and of exceptionally intense stress or when they behaved in a rejecting way that resonated too painfully with my memories of how they rejected and discarded me in my youth.

Being chronically angry, apart from anything else, is a very destructive and emotionally distressing frame of mind to endure – it is also highly mentally enervating  and exhausting, sapping one’s energy and, often, too, spoiling one’s quality of sleep. These effects can combine to lead to a state of constant exhaustion.

Many people who were mistreated by their parents as children harbour anger, hostility and resentment towards them for years or decades. Some hold on to these destructive feelings even after their parents are dead; indeed, not only may these feelings not abate once their parents are dead, they may even intensify. This may give rise to feelings of guilt and shame, too, about not being able to free themselves from their anger.

Anger

As I’ve already suggested above, such deep rooted and pervasive anger often impacts on many areas of the angry person’s life in very harmful ways. I provide examples of how this may happen below:

– displacement of anger onto innocent victims when anger is not being directed at the parents. This may lead, frequently, to getting into conflict with other relatives, friends, work colleagues, service providers etc. and always seeing the worst in people. Often, the angry person will not be consciously aware that the anger s/he is expressing is displaced anger.

– quick to condemn those one perceives as having done something wrong/immoral and to then dismiss them as a ‘terrible person’

– gain a reputation for being an angry, judgmental, censorious and unforgiving person, even when this isn’t the ‘real you’

– loss of capacity to experience joy or pleasure in life

– a proneness to express moral outrage

– a marked tendency to be critical about everyone and everything

– strong need to feel morally superior in relation to others

– development of a ‘me against the world’ approach to life

– feelings of hatred for others easily triggered

– general misanthropic attitude towards world

– fantasies of revenge

– regard self us utterly innocent victim, persecuted relentlessly by moral inferiors and idiots

– perpetual demeanor of resentment and bitterness which alienates others

– regard self as ‘judge and jury’ when it comes to assessing moral character of others and as omniscient and infallible in one’s ‘god-like’ judgments

Resources:

Useful link about dealing with anger. Click here.

MP3

hypnotherapy_anger

Advanced self- Hypnosis audio MP3 – click here for more details

 

eBook:

anger management

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Cliçk here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Jailed Parents: Effects On The Child

childhood_trauma

Whilst neither of my parents were ever imprisoned, when I was about ten or eleven years old, after my parents had got divorced, my mother’s mentally ill, alcoholic, live – in – lover was frequently in and out of jail (primarily Brixton and Pentonville in London, if memory serves).

Despite his criminal inclinations, he always treated me well – except, that is, for driving me about in his (stolen) cars whilst very drunk indeed ( him, not me). Why my mother allowed this to happen is unclear as she surely must have known, or, at the very least, have suspected, what was going on, would she not?

Because of the emotional bond I developed with this less than entirely responsible man (he seemed to like me a lot more than my parents or brother did), I found the unpredictability of his presence somewhat distressing. Sometimes, too, a police car would station itself outside our house, waiting for his return so they could arrest him, I presume; I never asked – but the presence of these police vehicles was,to a child, unsettling, disconcerting and vaguely menacing.

 

Because of such experiences, I was intrigued to find out what the current research had to say about the possible effects upon child of having an incarcerated parent or primary caregiver.

effects_of_jailed_parent_on_child

Whilst more research needs to be undertaken in connection with the question of the effects of parental imprisonment on the child (because, for example, some of the studies so far undertaken have been on a relatively low scale), evidence so far collected suggests the following effects may be experienced by children as a result of having a parent jailed:

Possible Effects On The Child Of Having A Parent Jailed:

– disruption in the development of the child-parent relationship

– poverty (due to loss of the parental income)

– social stigmatization

– reduced care

– reduced supervision

– development of mental health / behavioural problems, including anxiety, depression, regressive behaviour, aggression, running away, withdrawal, ‘clingy’ behaviour, eating disorders, poor school performance, sleep problems, hyperactivity and delinquency (Murray).

There also exists some evidence that girls may be more adversely affected by parental incarceration than boys and that having a mother jailed is more damaging than having a father jailed.

Finally, it should be pointed out, that, if the jailed parent was abusive, his/her imprisonment could actually benefit the child.

However, as I stated at the beginning of this article, more research in this area needs to be conducted.

Resources :

Children Of Incarcerated Parents (Youth.gov) : Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Effects Of Repressed Anger Towards Parents

repressed anger

What Are The Effects Of Repressed Anger Towards Parents?

If our parent/s caused us significant psychological suffering when we were growing up, we may have built up a great deal of anger towards them, but we may, too, have repressed that anger and its cause (ie. buried it deep inside our unconscious).

This repression of anger can occur because consciously facing up to the fact our parents emotionally damaged us so much and that this has made us so angry would be too psychologically painful. Hence, we do not allow ourselves to be consciously aware of this; this is what’s known as a psychological defense mechanism.

However, this repression of the real cause of our anger creates problems. One main problem is that we tend displace (re-direct) this anger onto targets who are not responsible for having created it. The result is we might often become inappropriately and disproportionately angry with people who don’t deserve it (eg. getting into bar – room fights, ‘road rage’ etc).

Alice Miller, the internationally famous expert on how our childhood experiences affect our adult behaviour went so far as to suggest it was Hitler’s own repressed anger which led to World War Two!

repressed_anger

The diagram above shows feelings which often drive and lie beneath the surface of anger.

There are many other signs which may indicate that we are suffering from repressed anger which I list below:

Possible Symptoms Of Repressed Anger:

1) Depression (Freud was of the view that depression is caused by anger being redirected against the self. He also believed that by bringing the real reason for our repressed anger into our conscious minds could very substantially relieve us of our psychological misery and pain. We need to accept this anger, realize its complete validity and not feel guilty about it)

2) Sarcasm (redirecting our hostility towards our parents through being sarcastic to others)

3) Extreme sensitivity to being rejected (if our anger was caused by our parents rejecting us, this is very likely to make it a extremely hard for us to deal with rejection in our adult life)

4) Becoming disproportionately angry due to trivial causes (such as spilling some coffee)

5) Constant tiredness (repressing anger depletes mental energy)

6) Tension in our muscles

7) Addictions (to numb our emotional pain, eg. alcohol, drugs, exercise, shopping, work, food)

8) Nervous habits (such as nail-biting, skin picking)

9) Passive aggression (expressing anger indirectly)

10) Occasional explosive outbursts of rage when the pressure

repressed anger becomes overwhelming).

How Can Repressed Anger Be Treated?:

Repressed anger and its causes need to be gently uncovered in a safe environment with a suitably qualified therapist. The anger then needs to be diffused in a healthy way (ie not in a way which harms the self or others). On no account should the anger be expressed through violence, as this clearly does hurt others and, one way or another, the self as well, compounding the problem substantially.

Resource:

 

anger-management-hypnotheray Anger Management Self-Hypnosis Audio Pack. Click here for further details

 

eBook:

anger_management

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here for more information.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Characteristics Of Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence.

domestic violence perpetrators

 

Domestic Violence And Children :

We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that children who grow up in households in which domestic violence is prevalent (e.g. growing up in a household in which the father regularly beats the mother) are put at high risk of developing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Indeed, without therapy, it is possible for the adverse effects on the child of having witnessed domestic violence to last well into adulthood and to significantly diminish his/her quality of life (click here to read one of my articles about the effects of domestic violence on children).

domestic_violence

According to the Minnonite Domestic Violence Task Force (Lehman,1996), perpetrators of domestic violence frequently exhibit the following characteristics:

Characteristics Of Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence:

– the man has a very possessive attitude towards the woman, as if he ‘owns’ her and she is his ‘property’; also, he is prone to exhibit extreme jealousy

– he blames others for his faults, deflecting blame from himself

– he attributes his problems to his circumstances (as above, this strategy serves to deflect blame from himself)

– he is very prone to unpredictable behavior

– he verbally derides and belittles his partner; he is also prone to telling her she’s ‘crazy’ in order to discredit her and to undermine her confidence in the truth of her a own views (this is sometimes referred to as ‘gaslighting’ which you can read about in one of my articles by clicking here)

– perpetually pleads for ‘another/final chance’

– perpetually promises ‘to change’

– may have been abused as a child or witnessed domestic abuse in his own childhood home (eg. his mother being beaten by his father)

– plays on his partner’s guilt (eg. by blaming his behaviour on her/ claiming provocation)

– liable to abusing alcohol and drugs that cause his behaviour to become worse still

– can only see things from his own perspective / closed minded

– may appear charming and gentle to outsiders

– misogynistic

– he may abuse his own children

– refuses treatment, or, if he agrees to it, may ‘play games’ with the therapist.

Resource:

HopeLine – support for those experiencing domestic violence.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery