Psychologist unpacks an abuser’s mind

2017-12-29 06:00

AS the official campaign for 16 Days of Activism Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse came to a fold recently, Margate psychologist Dr Babongile Luthuli discusses the mind of an abuser and ways of healing.

“There’s no specific environment or family structure abusers come from, but what seems to be consistent in their make up is a lack of regard of other people’s feelings.

“If you don’t care how other people feel, you’re more likely to treat them anyhow. This could be due to a lot of factors, including previous abuse in their early lives.

“Even though it’s bad, but it doesn’t justify treating other people in an unjust manner,” said Dr Luthuli.

She said abusers often display narcissistic characteristics of self-entitlement, low self-esteem and misplaced power.

“They feel the things they are entitled to are threatened and they are likely to retaliate to that threat, hence the abuse.

“There’s also issues of power and control that they battle with, when that is threatened as well, they retaliate.

“Self-esteem issues are sometimes present when people don’t feel good enough to the people in their lives. They feel inadequate in their abilities as men, and an attempt to prove themselves as adequate they sometimes end up abusing the people in their lives.

“Help is available,” said Dr Luthuli.

“Some of these issues can be resolved in long-term psychotherapy
in dealing specifically with the in-
dividual, independent of influencing factors.

“This will help in eventually getting to understanding how people cope with these influencing factors and general stressers,” said Dr Luthuli.

According to the Statistics SA’s 2016 Demographic and Health Survey released this year one in five South African women older than 18 have experienced domestic violence.

These statistics varied with status and wealth and the poorest households had one in three women abused.

Dr Luthuli emphasises the importance of “psycho-social” support for those battling with abuse on both sides of the spectrum adding that paramount to the healing process was treating the individual.

“It is important to help the individual during this process, psychosocial support is priceless,” she said.

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