A perpetrator, someone who perpetrates wrongdoing, violates trust, communication and boundaries. A perpetrator of relationship violence or child abuse is more often someone close to the victim and often those in a power of authority. Perpetrators can include fathers, mothers, both males or females, siblings, teachers, principals, police officers, coaches, priests, etc. It can also include those who carry not only authority, but those who help and are kind to others, those who go to church, a good father, a good mother, a community volunteer, etc.  Movies and media, often characterize perpetrators as "bad" people (and while it is true that what perpetrators do is bad), this unfortunately gives a false sense of reality and makes it easier for both children and adults to become victimized. For example, a child who has trust in a father, but the father uses his position to groom and violate the child. It is common that victims have their boundaries and trust violated. This carries a lifetime of risk of being re-victimized. 
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When a victim needs help, if the perpetrator finds out, makes them feel even more at risk of being left alone making them even more angry. The video below demonstrates this, how finding a way to get help can mean life or death.

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A perpetrator however while they have been violated and exposed to abuse and neglect or family dysfunction earlier in their life, they are still accountable and responsible for their behavior. As an adult they should be able to understand right-from-wrong and often use controlling behaviors to get what they want. They usually have low self esteem, are quiet and shy and usually do not have close friends. Perpetrators do however know they are doing wrong and need to get some help. Especially for those who are around children and those having difficulty in relationship. Perpetrators often never validate children and adults, and have poor boundary control. 
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People need to understand that those who usually hurt people are those who they are related to, love them and know them. People need to understand that it is not your fault even though the perpetrators says, "I because threatening because you did not listen to me and I got angry because you did....." or "I did it because I love and care about you and you need to listen to me, I am your father and when you do not listen I get angry". Unfortunately for many it is difficult for them to distinguish  "I better behave the way they want or they will get upset at me" from love, trust and respect for one's own self. Many also have difficulty in knowing that their own needs, desires, thoughts and feelings are theirs and nobody has any right to violate them. No parent, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, teacher, police officer, priest, etc. has a right to violate you.  
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Not all forms of abuse are physical or sexual, but in all cases of abuse, it started with controlling behaviors. In most of these cases of abuse the perpetrator is a loving and caring person, and as long as the victim does as the the perpetrator wants, the perpetrator is happy and loving. Most abuse cases are forms of control without the physical violence. The victims often changes their life, needs and boundaries to please the perpetrator. This form of control results in major physical and emotional consequences among the victim. Overtime one can see the physical changes seen in photographs just within months. You can see it in their face and eyes. This unfortunately is excused by saying "I am old' or "they are a teen". However both acute illness and chronic illness are the result. The emotional changes are often seen through tiredness, isolation and depression through changes in activities they used to like. This is often excused by the adult of child saying "I just do not want to do that anymore" or "I used to do that when I was younger" or "I do not feel like being friends with them anymore". They have a loss of self and over time results in changes in their brain that affects learning and have future consequences from the controlled behavior. When brought to the victim's attention, they usually say they are strong and are in control. Unfortunately they are not and are in denial. Overtime physical and emotional health effects get worse. These are usually accepted by the victim as "well I am getting old" or "I am a teen and I don't feel like doing things like I used to do". Victims of control are usually isolated as much as possible by the perpetrator. Often observed by a teen not doing their usual activities and sleep overs that children and teens are common in doing, for example. It is difficult to approach a victim because they will immediately deny. Only they can become motivated to get the help they need. They have to also be prepared by getting help because once the victim tries to get out or leave the relationship is when the perpetrator becomes more physically violent. This is why they victims need appropriate help. When children and teens are exposed to this form of controlling behavior, they see this as the way relationships are and learn to allow this behavior. In most cases they will end up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and in a relationship with someone who is controlling and abusive. An unfortunate and continued cycle.

If you feel you are unable to express how you feel, violated, distrusted, threatened against, or that you no longer have a voice or your opinion is never heard, etc. it is time to get some help. Remembering that a therapist is only as good as the information you provide them. So always be honest when you get help. Remember a victim is usually re-victimized and a perpetrator is usually a caring and loving person. Both victims and perpetrators need help!

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National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233
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Teen Dating Violence Hotline
1-866-331-9474
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National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-4673
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National Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-422-4453


 


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