When a little boy is neglected, belittled, and abused by his father and he remains wounded as an adult, it is not unusual for him to transfer his shame and pain to women and children.
A man-child abuses women and children -and most of all he abuses himself- when he does not choose a healthy way to let go of his pain. Instead, he holds on to his pain; wears it like a badge. Consequently, he causes pain to others, whether he means to or not. With his actions, he demonstrates that his trauma is central to who he is.
By carrying the trauma within, front and center, he is asking everyone else to acknowledge or interact with his trauma experience, yet his pain will not go away just because it is visible to others . He must address it for himself.
Sometimes he abuses women to prove to his abusive, absent father (and other abusive men) that he is a man, becoming just like his father, or worse. The abuse that he inflicts upon others justifies his own abuse. It is scary to imagine how he might interact with his own grandchildren, especially the ones that remind him of his little self.
To explain the problems in his life, he may say, “I have bad luck,” which is self-loathing. On the other hand, there are times that placing the blame on “luck” becomes a way for him to avoid culpability when his problems are of his own doing, or the consequences to the poor choices that he has made.
In some cases – perhaps even in many cases – abuse is passed down, generation to generation and on to good people who do not deserve to be abused by wounded adults who are still hurting and casting their trauma on to those who had absolutely nothing to do with their original pain. This comes down to awareness; it is not a “curse.” No one has to remain in a place of woundedness.
We spend a lot of time talking about people with mama issues, but tend to forget that daddy issues matter too.
© 2023 annalise fonza, Ph.D.