Why do abusers do what they do?

I can’t sleep tonight for some reason. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that it’s because I started reading a book called “Combating Cult Mind Control” by Steven Hassan. I’m triggered and due to ADHD my mind is also going at 100 miles per hour at 12:30 at night. When my PTSD flares, so do my ADHD symptoms, and sometimes this can make for sleepless nights.

The question that I am pondering now is the age old question of why abusers do what they do. In my research on the subject, I have read that they abuse in order to gain power and control, and also to act upon or relieve a compulsion. Even with this information, my question tonight is: why go after someone like me?

I’m aware that when I was younger that I was vulnerable due to a number of reasons. I was suggestible, I had a trauma history, I have developmental disabilities, and I have a tendency to dissociate and forget/repress traumatic events. Abusers do scope out victims based off of these characteristics. At the same time though, I also have always been extremely outspoken, even during my time in AA. I have never been afraid either to stand up for other people and take risks for the good of others or society, even if my own safety is in danger in some way. I was a lifeguard for 6 years in high school and college, would stand up for others to bullies while growing up, was an activist in college, and even provided trained peer support to other college students on a number of issues as an undergraduate. In addition, I conducted controversial scientific research on implicit prejudice towards Muslims as an undergraduate and graduate student and won national awards for it. I realize that the abusers knew that I forgot most of the trauma that they put me through, but did they really think that I would not be strong enough to remember it later on? Of course I’m speaking out about it now that I have. That’s just how I am!

I know also that sometimes abusive people will target those based not just off of vulnerability but they will also go after people who they are intimidated by as well. It’s like a competition for them as to who is the strongest. I know that I’ve come across abusive people like this in my life as well, and again, life is all about power and control to them.

With that said, I still do not yet comprehend abuse or fully understand the people who do it, even with my Master’s in Psychology, and all of the healing and research that I’ve done into the subject. I guess that’s a good thing, right? There are just some things in life that I am not meant to fully understand.

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