Dismantling systems of abuse

My mentoring this week has brought on a barrage of insights about the ways a system of abuse collapses. While these insights are obviously applicable to family systems and interpersonal dynamics, there are many connections to the abuses of students, employees, citizenry and the natural environment.

Ordinarily systems of abuse self replicate and cross generational lines. The child of an abusive parent identifies with the mistreatment, internalizes the negative feelings and acts out the behavior in other contexts. For this to occur, the abuse must force a "loss of soul" in the victim so the identification with the abuser becomes possible. The feeling of a "hole in the soul", insatiable neediness or terrifying abandonment -- sets up the self-replicating dynamics. The victim feels powerless to intervene and takes the abuse lying down, only to dish it out later in life.

Systems of abuse break down when there is no "loss of soul". The victim does not feel victimized or abused. Rather the system is disrupted by his/her persistent presence of love and indifference to disrespect. There is no identification with the abuser or subsequent acting the same way.

When this occurs, the "unvictimized victim" infuriates the abuser. The abuse escalates as the abuser's worst nightmare becomes real. The appearance of "powerlessness being more powerful than tyranny" torments anyone taking pride in their abuse of power. The presence of love amidst the flood of hatred, envy and fear is extremely disruptive. The system of abuse has no way to self-replicate, jump to the next generation and maintain a culture of fear. Justice is served effortlessly. The system of abuse gets what it deserves and ends it's reign of terror.


  1. This is an incredibly insightful post. You've articulated in a few paragraphs precisely why the non-violent protest methods of Gandhi and King have proven so effective.

    The Christian Bible talks about "generational sin," and I believe your notions about how abuse is passed on between generations is supported by this concept. Interesting, indeed.

  2. Andy
    Thanks for making all the insightful connections to other contexts.

    Also in the context of the Christian Bible, this could be a glimpse at "God's Plan" for removing "sins of the fathers" from the earth that "the meek inherit" by following the guidelines of "love your enemies", "resist not evil", "turn the other cheek" and "forgive seventy times seven times".

    There are many current signs of our "sense to take the right approach" is gaining momentum. Your comment here is added proof of that trend.