Typical Characteristics of Victims and Abusers

Victims (Targets of Abuse)

  • Baffling health issues that puzzle doctors and have no explanation
  • Want to believe in their abusers even after they have been betrayed
  • Not attracted to those who are safe
  • You deserve what happened, undeserving of better
  • Settle for less than is deserved
  • Poor self-image
  • No mind of your own
  • Depressed, anxious
  • Easily taken advantage of
  • Give Power to others
  • Believe the abuse will stop if they do better
  • Blame self for being abused
  • Settle for less than is deserved
  • Poor self-image
  • No mind of their own
  • Depressed, anxious
  • Easily taken advantage of
  • Give power to others
  • Disconnected from your body
  • Wear masks or play different roles to hide who you really are
  • No or scant memories from childhood
  • Maturity is frozen at the age of the original abuse
  • No (or little) sense of your own reality
  • Out of touch with feelings
  • React as a victim or offender
  • Feel out of control inside
  • Rigid—Inflexible
  • Overextend themselves, exhausted, feel taken advantage of, depleted
  • No mind of their own, allow others to think for them
  • Easily manipulated
  • Believe they deserve bad things that happened, undeserving of better
  • Try to help and fix others but ignore their own needs
  • Doubt your judgement and wondered whether or not you are ‘crazy’ as a result of things that were said to you
  • Lost confidence in your abilities, become increasingly depressed or felt trapped and powerless.
  • Developed fears of other people, tended to see others less often.
  • Felt afraid of your partner, parents or others. Found yourself expressing your opinions less and less freely
  • Have to ask your partner’s permission to spend money, take classes or socialize with friends.
  • Afraid that no matter what you do it will be the wrong thing.
  • …and more

The victim bonds to the abuser by thinking s/he can control the abuse by being perfect, pleasing or emulating the abuser. Examples: Always agree, chronically apologize, do whatever is demanded, be an accomplice in abusing others, become indispensable to the abuser and at their beckoning call.

Regarding Abuse: “The will becomes disabled; the person becomes blind to options.” ~Author Unknown

Abusers (The Offenders) The goal of the offender is to reduce the self-worth of others to gain control.

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance but internally insecure
  • Craves admiration and attention
  • The world reflected in their image
  • React to criticism (even if it is warranted) with anger, shame, humiliation or blame
  • Take advantage of others to reach own goals
  • Exaggerate their own importance, achievements and talents
  • Imagine unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence or romance
  • Require constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
  • Becomes jealous easily
  • Lacks empathy and disregards the feeling of others
  • Is obsessed with self
  • Pursues selfish goals
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Becomes easily hurt and rejected
  • Sets goals that are unrealistic
  • Wants the best of everything
  • Appears unemotional
  • Needs much validation from the opposite sex
  • Compensatory – offsetting feelings of inferiority
  • Elitist – thinks they are better than everyone
  • Fanatic – can be very religiously preoccupied or rigid in their thinking
  • Paranoid
  • Expert liars and master manipulators
  • Superficially Charming
  • Inability to feel remorse, guilt or love
  • Learn to mimic emotions at an early age, but in reality, feel nothing
  • Never wrong
  • Threatened by confident and competent people
  • Give to get back
  • Attempt to think for and control others
  • …and more

Sometimes an abusive pattern will show up opposite of its origins, but it is still abuse. Example: Jack grew up in an ultra-clean, rigid environment. He swung to the opposite dysfunction, living in chaos and filth.

Or others may marry their opposite dysfunction. Example: Over-responsible marries irresponsible.

“ I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.”~Shay Mitchell

“When people don’t like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first.” ~Tom Hiddleston

“If you hit and humiliate a child, the only lesson he will learn is to hit and humiliate.” ~Little Women

What can happen to a person after serious abuse starting at an early age and lasting for years:

Turn to drugs, alcohol or other addictions for relief  

Multiple personalities



Suicidal tendencies

Disabling depression and anxiety

OCD, Eating disorders

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) 

High-risk behaviors  

Psychosomatic Health Issues and Body Pain

Trouble forming and maintaining relationships

Repeating the same abusive patterns in their own families

…and more