Why Do People Abuse Other People?

Part 2: Why Do People Abuse Others—Caged Animals

May is Mental Health Awareness month. Mental health is one of our more precious aspects of health. Last week I shared with you the aspects, characteristics of “hunters.” This week in regards to mental health I am sharing the flip side of this that I call Caged Animal.

What happens when the mental health of another, a loved one, starters to fall into question? For my purposes, what about the mental health scenario when talking about abuse? This usually stirs the question by many victims of “Why does he do that?” This is also the title of Dr. Lundy Bancroft’s book.

It was through reading, researching, and rereading this book that I formed the understanding of who Hunters are and who Caged Animals are. I was a victim then survivor of this type of abuse for nine years. As someone who is deep in the thriving process thanks to the healing journey of forgiveness, the question of why I stayed will not be answered here. That answer is found in my book Pinpoint of Light.

What are the characteristics of a Caged Animal?

Abusers who are caged animals hide a lot of pain. They have feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and shame. They might have suffered from trauma or abuse or loss as a child. Decades of research have shown that “childhood experiences interact with our genetics to change the structure and function of the brain. Within the range of normal experiences, this system enables the brain to be modified during development to adapt to various environments and cultures.”1

They might have suffered from trauma or abuse or loss as a child. “Traumatic experiences interact with genetics to change the structure and function of the brain, compromising emotional and cognitive development and initiating a pathway to pathology.” 2

Caged Animals will display and share a bit of the story with their partners and spouses. Sharing this pain with others is enough that we start to feel empathy and sorry for them. Women, we are nurturers by nature and so this starts to form a connection. (WARNING! Be careful--hunters can use the same tactic to lure you in).

  • Feel trapped

  • No control of own Life

  • Paranoia

  • Hidden Rage

  • Addiction

  • Abuse

  • Mental Illness

  • Strikeout unpredictably

The end result of all of this is Abuse.

What do Caged Animals Look like?

The abuser who is acting like a caged animal does not know how to deal with their fear and pain, and many of their spouses/partners (who eventually become their victims) see the abuser, the caged animal, in a very pitiful place. We have empathy for them and their story. Victims feel like they can help them, rescue them, free them to rehabilitate them.

The woman... sees that her partner is a human being who can be caring and affectionate at times, and she loves him. She wants to figure out why he gets so upset so that she can help him break his pattern of ups and downs. She gets drawn into the complexities of his inner world, trying to uncover clues, moving pieces around in an attempt to solve an elaborate puzzle. —Lundy Bancroft