Violence has always been part of the landscape, but recent events have brought it more to the forefront. We will probably fuss about it, blame minorities for it and then once again, turn our backs to the people in society who really need our help.
Like prejudice, we view violence as an external thing – someone hurting someone else. And that is, of course true, but that’s only the result, a symptom, of a much deeper problem. At its core, violence is about the fear and pain held by the abuser. It is an expression of weakness, not strength. The violent one says in effect, “I am so threatened by what is happening that I cannot allow you to continue. I must try and silence you.”
Violent behavior is learned and violence begets violence. The pattern will have been established in childhood. Violent people grow up in an environment where they are subjected to violence and often the only way to survive was to become violent themselves. Minority kids live in cultures dominated by violence. Violence at home, violence in the street, violence at school, drug violence, violence by police. . . Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of inmates convicted of violent crimes had violent upbringings.
Some people point to high crime rates amongst Blacks as a reason to justify racial bigotry, but research has clearly established that the issue is poverty, not race. Violence isn’t just a ghetto thing either, it occurs in the suburbs too. It may look like an average suburban home, but behind those Damask curtains can sometimes be some really ugly behavior. Violence toward animals by youngsters is a sure predictor of a violent, often extremely violent, adult.
Aggressors have a very low tolerance for challenges to their manhood or authority, and the triggering event actually has little to do with their response, other that to push the abuser over the edge. And it is a very narrow ledge they live on. There is such a wellspring of hate in them that they are like coiled springs, just waiting to go off.
The other notable quality amongst violent people is that they have terrible interpersonal skills. Attitudes in school were decidedly anti-social and they didn’t learn to socialize. These people react through action because they do not have language skills and they get themselves easily painted into corners. Most of them did their learning in the street where the language was violence.
It has been my experience that pushed to the extreme, virtually anyone can become violent. Either that or they totally collapse. Most people have an effective regulator that keeps their violent urges in check. People who “snap” have, for various reasons, lost the influence of that regulator. That’s why the same challenging statement made to a number of people can produce dramatically different results.
We make a mistake when we treat the population of violent people as homogeneous or look to the ghettos as the only source of crime in society. One group that cuts across all social distinctions are psychopaths. Psychopaths exhibit a cluster of distinctive personality traits, the most significant of which is an utter lack of conscience.
They also have huge egos, short tempers, and an appetite for excitement – a potentially explosive mixture. In prison, about twenty percent of the inmates are psychopaths, but they are responsible for over half of all violent crime.
Everything about psychopaths seems to be paradoxical. They do things that other people cannot do – lie, steal, rape, murder – and seem perfectly oblivious to the pain they create. It’s not that they ignore it, for them, the pain of other people simply doesn’t exist. And that can be very difficult for people with a sense of conscience to comprehend.
These are the charming predators who, unable to form real emotional bonds, find and use vulnerable women for sex and vulnerable men for money. They are the con men of Wall Street, making New York the scam capital of the world. One leading expert in the field has said that if he couldn’t study psychopaths in prison, the New York Stock Exchange would be his second choice.
The great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be, but that does not discount the significant emotional violence they can wreak. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Psychopaths can be found in legislatures, the police and used-car lots.
Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be a “subclinical” psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain behind them without a pang of real remorse. They often have learned to fake a conscience, but it’s not real. It is said that psychopaths make ideal corporate CEO’s. Sexual predators are frequently also psychopaths.
Violence isn’t the sole province of psychopaths, people can be violent for a host of reasons, all having to do with a low threshold of personal threat. Violence begins with the seething pain of the perpetrator that then gets dumped all over the landscape.
They may get angry with you, but their rage is ancient, not that that makes any difference if you are the victim. But, when it comes to today’s lone wolf shooters, domestic abusers or Wall Street crooks, it might be useful for us to have a better understanding of the pain that drives these guys.
A Huff Post Article:
“It’s Time To Recognize What Many Mass Murderers Share In Common. Yet again, a deranged mass killer abused the women in his life before striking the public.” Melissa Jeltsen, Senior Reporter, The Huffington Post
People throw garbage at the site where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was killed by the police.
In the years before Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel made the reprehensible decision to commit mass murder by ramming his truck into a crowd gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in Nice, France, he terrorized his own family.
He beat his wife, Hajer Khalfallah, and his mother-in-law, his wife’s lawyer told the French newspaper Le Parisien. He was prone to verbal tirades and violent outbursts. His father described him as periodically erupting and breaking everything in sight. One neighbor who visited his apartment said it was “very tense,” with clothes tossed around and overturned chairs. Another neighbor recalled having to physically restrain Lahouaiej Bouhlel from hitting his wife.
In one particularly disturbing incident, he allegedly defecated on his daughter’s bed. He had also thrust a knife into one of his children’s stuffed animals, neighbors said, twisting out its insides.
Four days after Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 84 people, a portrait has begun to emerge of the mass murderer ― not as a religious extremist but as an angry, volatile man who physically and verbally abused those closest to him on a regular basis.
As The Huffington Post has previously reported, this story is tragically familiar. In the past few years, many of the men who have committed heinous, unthinkable acts of violence against the public have had a history of abusing the women in their lives. Prior to unleashing their deranged violence onto the world, it appears they practiced it against the most vulnerable and accessible targets ― those living inside their homes.
Before Micah Johnson gunned down five Dallas police officers, in the deadliest attack against law enforcement officers in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, he was accused of sexually harassing a female soldier, who asked that Johnson receive mental help and for a protective order against him.
Before Omar Mateen opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, he beat his wife.
Before Robert Dear shot to death three strangers at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs last fall, he allegedly abused his wives, was charged with rape and arrested under a “Peeping Tom” law.
Before Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted bombs at the Boston Marathon with his brother in 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others, he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.
Before Cedric Ford went on a shooting rampage in Kansas, killing three and injuring 14, he was served with a restraining order stemming from a domestic violence complaint filed by his ex-girlfriend. In her request for the order, his ex-girlfriend wrote that it was her belief that he was “in desperate need of medical and psychological help.”
Before gunman Man Haron Monis seized hostages in a cafe in Sydney, he was released on bail after being charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.
And so on.
And so on.
And so on.
Tragically, there are scores of other examples like these. To be sure, not all abusive men turn into killers; they are a minuscule percentage of the whole. But domestic violence is far too common, with 1 in 4 women expected to be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
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