Is abuse a cycle where the abused today is the abuser tomorrow?

Expert Answers
annekld eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While it is known that victims and survivors of abuse as children are more likely to abuse in adulthood than those who have never been abused, it is not set in stone. The effects of abuse are far reaching and can influence later behavior towards others.

Some of the effects of abuse include high risk of drug use, alcohol use and mental health problems. While not directly indicative of abusive behavior, these can contribute to abusive behaviors later on in life. Also, people who have been in abusive situations can come to view that behavior as normal. They continue the line of abuse because that is how they believe that relationships function and they have never learned healthy relationship skills.

However, it has also been show that the cycle can be broken. Therapy of various modalities including psychotherapy, psychiatric therapy, art therapy and music therapy have proven to be effective in helping to overcome the negative effects of abuse. Also, developing a strong, positive support system has also proven beneficial.

There are many known factors in the perpetuation of the cycle of abuse and many more yet to be discovered. Knowing and understanding the effects of abuse can aid in reducing the likelihood of the abused becoming the abuser. Sometimes abuse can turn into a cycle, but it does not have to continue indefinitely.

arusticat | Student

It is counter-intuitive as you would expect a child who was abused in their own childhood, and understands the pain inflicted, would chose any other way to interact with their own children (years down the road) rather than inflict upon them the same kind of abuse they experienced as a child - but, in fact, the abused are much more like to abuse their offspring than those who never experienced it. 

It maybe that while the now adult parent knows that abuse was not right in their own childhood, they did not learn an alternate way to discipline their children when they misbehave.

It is also possible that an adult who experienced much abuse in their own childhood harbors anger that stays with them and they, in order to become a healthy parent, needs to emotionally deal with their own history of abuse before they can be an effective, a non-abusing, parent.