Why Do People Abuse?

Abuse is a learned behavior. Sometimes people see it within their own families or communities growing up. Other times they learn it from friends, or see it on TV or in the movies.

However, abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make. Many people who experience or witness abuse as children make the decision not to use hurtful behaviors in their adult relationships.

There are some people who think alcohol or drugs are to blame for the high rates of domestic violence and dating violence in Indian Country. It is important to recognize that while drugs or alcohol can sometimes escalate abuse, they do not cause abuse.

Domestic violence and dating violence stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over a partner. Abusive people think they have the right to control and restrict their partners. They may also enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them.

No matter the reason a person chooses to abuse, domestic violence is not our tradition, and it is never okay.

How Do I Know If I’m Abusive?

At the StrongHearts Native Helpline, advocates are trained to speak with people who are concerned about their behavior or may identify as abusive. Every caller is treated with dignity and respect.

StrongHearts is available to all of our relatives, including those who are concerned about their behavior. We support anyone who wants to take responsibility for their actions. Every call from someone who is beginning to recognize their unhealthy behavior is an opportunity to begin healing.

If you’re looking for someone to speak with about your concerns, StrongHearts advocates are a great option. We will listen without judgment and can help you figure out what’s going on in your relationship. Acknowledging the abuse is the first step toward healing.

Speak with a StrongHearts advocate by calling 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST. Callers after hours will have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to call back the next business day.

Note: At StrongHearts, we do not recommend couples counseling or anger management for abusers to learn about and stop their abusive patterns. However, these can oftentimes helpfully supplement a batterer intervention program once the person who uses abuse has successfully completed a batterer intervention program and has demonstrated significant reduction in using abusive tactics.