First, and foremost, abusers are actors. It makes no difference what gender the abusive personality is, their primary skill is to emulate normal behaviour in order to disguise their own condition.
I have spoken to many victims of abuse who say that the person they met and fell in love with “gradually changed” into a monster. This is often one of the most confusing and distressing aspects of abuse from the victim’s point of view. It is also a situation that the abuser will exploit with varying degrees of vicious skill. While it is impossible to be specific on these subjects in every case — as there are always exceptions to every rule — careful observation and research have uncovered certain general consistencies I want to discuss here. The question is; what is going on in the abusers mind that causes them to suddenly, or gradually, become abusive to their new partner?
<--more--!>It appears that the abusive personality has learned, by observation and by mimicry of those around them, how to give every appearance of normality and stability for often quite extended periods of time. This means that they are able to convince new partners that they are really charming, wonderful people who should be trusted and are worthy of love and care. This act is easy to maintain in certain social situations and where the abuser has minimal contact with others in an average day. For example, in a work situation where he/she will be in contact with others for a maximum of eight hours per day. Another social situation may be one of casual friendships made in pubs and clubs. Under these conditions the actor (abuser) need only be convincing as a normal person for a minimum amount of time. This is why many friends of the abuser find it hard to believe that the person they think they know could be capable of such barbarity within a long-term relationship. In the case of female abusers, this difficulty is compounded by social and political myths that see females only as victims and not as perpetrators.
For the abusive actor, maintaining the act of normality within a long term relationship is almost impossible. The intensity of the time spent in the company of the victim means the emotional strain placed on the pretender, by their need to hide their true selves, becomes too difficult to maintain. The act breaks down and the real personality disguised beneath it rushes to the surface. To the victim, the sudden outbursts of aggression from the previously “loving” and “charming” personality they fell in love with is both mystifying and deeply confusing. The victim, often still in love with the abuser, begins to make excuses for the abuser’s behaviour, mentally sweeping it under the carpet and falsely believing that things will get better in time.
This is not difficult to understand. Anyone who has fallen in love knows the huge investment of trust, emotional/mental commitment and selflessness it takes make the relationship work. It is natural for the victim to assume that the other person has made the same efforts as they have and this primes them to accept the abuser’s excuses and rationalizations of their behaviour.