Is abuse always intentional?

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Alice97

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Is abuse always intentional?
« on: May 06, 2016, 10:53:13 AM »
Hey all, I have a question that's been bothering me for a long time now. I believe my dad is a covert narc, and emotionally abusive. He grew up with a PD parent, so I'm sure he picked up a lot of his abusive characteristics from growing up in that environment. My question is this: Even though my dad is very hurtful and difficult to work with and be around, I don't believe he is intentionally setting out to be the worst dad possible or to hurt us in any way. I'm not sure how to explain it... it's like he is so intellectual and logical, and has such low emotional intelligence, and has such a big ego that he just can't have relationships. Do abusers typically know they are being abusive? Is it possible for a covert narc to not intentionally be abusive? I read somewhere that one of the signs someone is a narc is when it seems like something is missing, but you just can't put your finger on it. That's how it is with my dad. Some days he almost seems normal and I hate myself for ever thinking he is a narc. But then very quickly that changes when he goes back into angry mode. I'd really appreciate any light you can shed on this.   :Idunno:

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VividImagination

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 11:43:11 AM »
My NM was like a toddler in an adult body at times. She would often lose control of her emotions and take them out on certain children in the family. However, when the abuse was obviously over the top (like slamming me repeatedly into a mirrored wall until I was scratched badly by broken shards of glass) she would seem to have a moment of fear/clarity that she'd gone too far and she wouldn't touch me for months.

Sorry this doesn't answer your question, but it raised more for me. There was some sort of intention involved...only I was physically abused, with my younger brother receiving intermittent abuse. If another sibling angered NM, I was abused.

I was obviously used as an outlet for her rage and negative emotion, but she could delay that "need" if I wasn't available (at school, for instance) and manufacture a reason to hurt me later.

I think in the end I have to concentrate on making sure I pretty much live my life completely opposite to hers. I spent years trying to understand her, because if something was wrong with her maybe it meant that I wasn't just a worthless human being not worthy of basic parental love.

Now I understand she was incapable of love...that doesn't mean I'm unlovable. She was broken...not me.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

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gaslightedbug

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 12:09:48 PM »
It's hard to distinguish intentional versus unintentional but you do have to ask yourself this as most PD parents are like children.... Do you decide to grow up? Do you decide to become responsible and mature? If you feel that is a decision, then I would say that most of their actions are intentional. I mean I personally and you (as you are here) decided to stop the dysfunction therefore it is intentional that we don't allow certain behavior. I think that unless someone has a diagnosis neurologically that doesn't allow them to grow past a certain maturity, actions that are immature or in most of our cases down right mean and cynic are intentional or a choice.

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Shockwave

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 12:21:46 PM »
Ask yourself this: would they pull this crap in front of cps or a cop or a judge? If the answer is no, then yes not only is it intentional, it's deliberate and indicative of how little they view you.
"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."
-- James Gordon, The Dark Knight

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gaslightedbug

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2016, 12:24:25 PM »
Ask yourself this: would they pull this crap in front of cps or a cop or a judge? If the answer is no, then yes not only is it intentional, it's deliberate and indicative of how little they view you.

If you have had experiences like me, I'm sure you can even think of instances where PDs behavior completely changes in front of certain people.

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Sidney37

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2016, 12:30:47 PM »
I just had this conversation with my best friend the other day.  Her mom is certainly bi-polar and has other possible diagnoses including schizotypal PD.  My mom is NPD.  We were asking ourselves if the neglect and verbal abuse was intentional.  Neither of us had physical or sexual abuse in our homes.  We had neglect, verbal and emotional abuse.  To this day neither of our mothers feel like they have done or said anything wrong.  They are both around 70.  Like many families, our extended families insist that our mothers did "the best they could".  We've both limited contact with our mothers, but after years of struggling to get OOTF we often still wonder if what they did and still do is intentional or if they have any clue the damage that they have done. 

Thinking that it is unintentional, though, seems to cause us to continue to subject ourselves to the abuse.  If my mom had a heart disease issue or asthma, would I be more sympathetic to her illness.  Certainly, unless she was doing things to intentionally make those conditions worse.  Should I be more sympathetic because she has a mental heath issue?  This is what keeps dragging my best friend and myself back into the FOG. 

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gaslightedbug

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2016, 12:47:25 PM »
Having diagnosed BP and SPD siblings I did research them both when one ran out of friends to attack and started directing them at me. The one thing that stood out was never excuse behavior based on a PD they know what they are doing and that it's wrong. This was validated by my therapist. And also by my SPD sibling when it was said PD knows the voices aren't real and wrong and PD just needs to ignore them. So the PD is always a struggle but they still know. I mean you can google blogs from actual narcissists and they will point blankly say they do everything on purpose and usually it is premeditated and well calculated. It's a game to them.

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JG65

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2016, 01:00:20 PM »
Alice97,

I used to wonder about this question a lot.  My dad had diagnosed NPD, but he also has some ASPD behaviors as well.

I believe that they know it is abusive on one level, but they also use the same tactics they use on us to justify it to themselves.  So they know what they are doing but they convince themselves that it is okay.  With low to no empathy, they don't see the impact on others anyway. 

Saying and doing things that hurt you isn't okay whether it is intentional or not.  When they do hurt you, they will generally throw it back and tell you it is your fault. 

Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences - Robert Louis Stevenson

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practical

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2016, 01:04:15 PM »
I'm not sure it matters whether it is intentional or not, for me the key is that I have to protect myself. My PDparents behavior has had a severe effect on me, and therefore I have to look out for myself, it isn't about them, it is about me and my own life.

Yes, uNPDm had an inert sense when she could be which way, the public only saw her from her nicest side, and F has some of this too, but it was in the end at the level of a child, a child who might hit another child while nobody is looking and hope to get away with it, while knowing he cannot do the same when somebody pays attention. Or if caught, might for a millisecond realize something is wrong, but then immediately argue with "But he started it, … but he took my X, … but she is my sister." in short shifting blame etc. So there seems to be some competence there to distinguish between social situations, but not enough to realize the behavior is unacceptable whatever the situation. At least this seems to be true for my parents.

I think that unless someone has a diagnosis neurologically that doesn't allow them to grow past a certain maturity, actions that are immature or in most of our cases down right mean and cynic are intentional or a choice.
I think for me it is the lack of insight into their behavior when I have brought it up to them, of not apologizing. My PDparents not seeking out help, actually refusing help. As I said, I have given up on figuring out whether they can or cannot, I just know this behavior is toxic for me, so I try to detach from it.

Thinking that it is unintentional, though, seems to cause us to continue to subject ourselves to the abuse.  If my mom had a heart disease issue or asthma, would I be more sympathetic to her illness.  Certainly, unless she was doing things to intentionally make those conditions worse.  Should I be more sympathetic because she has a mental heath issue?  This is what keeps dragging my best friend and myself back into the FOG. 
I actually was sympathetic to M and am to F, and I have thought about these alternate scenarios, and what I was left with is the knowledge that they did seek help for physical ailments, but not for their mental problems, rather forsaking their relationship to their children and continuing the abuse. Again I don't know whether they ever understood what they have done, and again I decided not to care anymore, but rather to make myself a priority, to give myself at least 51% in my life and to adhere to the 3C's rule: I didn't cause it, I cannot cure it, I cannot control it. This way, my life has become much better.

Alice97, I don't think there is a clear answer, other than that you have to do what is healthy for you, take care of yourself, put yourself first. Your changing views of your F are real, my uNPDm's behavior was in flux. In the end I could not tolerate her abuse any more, hoping for better times to return.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 01:26:17 PM by practical »
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Bloomie

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2016, 01:20:24 PM »
Alice97 - This is a question we all wrestle with and come to in our healing journey and as part of how we determine how to go forward. I struggle giving over so much weight to something that we cannot truly know about another person. Part of my healing journey has been to redirect the energy and need to "know" if someone who has been abusive to me is intentional in it or not, is to evaluate another's behavior over time.

Is the abusive behavior consistent over time? Is it consistent over every area of another's life? Is it in all of their relationships, or just a few, or just with me? And, the most important factor for me to have information on to formulate how to go forward in a relationship is, how does this person respond to honest feedback that their behavior is hurting me?

Do they hear me, take responsibility for themselves, and adjust their behavior? Or, do they deny responsibility, refuse to change, blame, bully, and continue to behave in hurtful ways toward me? That is really all that I can "know". We can act from a place of wisdom, discernment, and realistic understanding and acceptance, that the best predictor for future behavior is past behavior.

Self awareness is hard for all of us and examining our intentions and being honest with ourselves and others about them takes a level of painful hard inner work that requires somewhat of an organized mind and thinking. Along with a well working conscience that has not been blunted by years and years of denial, justification, rage, addictions, self abuse, dishonesty and the like.

For me, the real question is... does the person hurting us take responsibility for themselves when confronted with their behavior and can they respect the personhood and boundaries of another? If the answer to those two questions is no, then I have to consider that as I go forward and determine what level of relationship, if any, I can safely have with this person.

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daughter

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2016, 08:58:33 PM »
That abusive behavior can be overt and deliberate, but it also can be result of extreme self-absorbed "me, me, me" narcissism, where the dynamic is "I can say and do whatever I want, because I am who I am, and I'm your parent".  I think my npd-enmeshed NBM and NF were so self-absorbed, so resolutely self-entitled "to be themselves", that they never even considered (or realized?) that much of their behavior was genuinely invasive, meddling, offensive and/or inappropriate.   

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xredshoesx

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2016, 12:34:11 PM »
all i know is that i will never treat someone the way i was treated as a child.  at the end of the day, that is the only element i have control over.

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Inurdreams

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2016, 12:45:26 PM »
Ask yourself this: would they pull this crap in front of cps or a cop or a judge? If the answer is no, then yes not only is it intentional, it's deliberate and indicative of how little they view you.

 :yeahthat:

I agree wholeheartedly!  They know when and who they can get away with the abuse.  To me this is key.  They know how to behave themselves around certain people and under certain circumstances so they do know they are being abusive.
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xredshoesx

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2016, 07:51:42 PM »
a lot of the 'they' statements i'm seeing and reading can be overgenerallizing and dehumanizing- can we try to use statements from our perspective more vs using such broad generalizations?  i can't describe all PDs, but only speak from the perspective of what i've witnessed from the behaviors i've seen exhibited by my biological mother, her mother, my ex and possibly a couple of former administrators/ coworkers.

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Shockwave

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2016, 11:30:50 PM »
This is true, Redshoes. Apologies for the possible misinterpretation.
"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."
-- James Gordon, The Dark Knight

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betta fish

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2016, 11:30:30 AM »
For me it depends on your definition of intentional and what behaviour you consider intentional.  Confused yet?  Let me explain.  My mom is an uBDP, so I can only speak for myself and what I experienced.  My mom has needs that she wants met.  To get them met she will go the distance she has to go to, to get those needs met.  I think she intentionally sets out to get what she needs, but her inability for insight and empathy makes her unable to see how her antics are hurting those around her.  I don't believe her intentions are to hurt me, they are to get what she needs. 

This however, does not mean that we shouldn't protect ourselves.  Boundaries and limits are a must.  Like child a PD person will react when we put up boundaries, so it will get worst before it gets better.  That's my take on it from my experience.
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
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wisingup

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2016, 02:44:00 PM »
I'm coming around to agree with practical and Bloomie that it really doesn't matter what the intention is.

Every interaction with her is detrimental to my emotional state & takes some amount of time to bounce back from.  I need to remove myself from that cycle for my own sake, regardless of what effect it has on her. 

I've absorbed 50 years of emotional chaos at her hands - it's OK if I create a little of my own at this point, in order to free myself.

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Ghost Ashes

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Re: Is abuse always intentional?
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2016, 03:25:15 PM »
I agree with betta fish answer

I would rather use the word unconscious/ conscious. I believe most of the behaviours are tragical unconscious expressions of wounds, unfilled needs, fears. They might say/ act intentionnally by times. But unconscious. The aim is always to meet needs. But in complete inadequate ways.

IMO however when you see the pain inflicted on others, you could start seeking out help whether medical, selfdevelopment, etc, as these ways are destructive not only to relatives, partner, children, etc but also to oneself.
IMO both my parents are damaged. My brothers and me are too. The difference is that I wondered about my emotions actions etc afterwards and work on them, because they may be painful to others and for sure they are painful to me.
No one can help really if one is not truly willing to move out of that pain and be helped.

I believe it's unconscious whether their words, actions etc are 'intentional' or 'unintentional'

But then I agree, in the end , it doesn't matter, fact is they've been pointed out they act unconsciously (intentionally or not) and what I can do is break the cycle and heal myself