Why do hurt people hurt other people?

The death of Steve Jobs, the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc, last month brought so much grief around the world for he created a worldwide giant which took everyone by storm.

Jobs, who had transformed one industry after another, from computers and smart phones to music and movies, was an icon who changed the way people communicated globally. Jobs, however, led an unusually private life and was probably a very distressed and sad person.

He was adopted at a very young and tender age and was raised by Paul Reinhold Jobs and Clara Jobs, after his mother decided to marry another man.
When asked about his “adoptive parents”, Jobs replied emphatically that Paul and Clara Jobs “were my parents”. He later stated in his biography that “they were my parents 1 000%”.

But he sadly denied paternity of his first child Lisa Brennan Jobs who was born in 1978, the daughter of his long-time partner Chris Ann Brennan.

Chris Ann raised that child alone for two years on welfare as he literally made millions of dollars that could have made a great difference for both Lisa and her mother at that stage in her life.

Jobs claimed that he was sterile. He did, however, acknowledge paternity much later and embraced her as his biological daughter.

But how does Lisa feel knowing that her own father had actually “dumped” her at the very early stages of her life?

This scenario is not an unusual one especially for Zimbabweans. There are so many adults that were raised by people that were not their parents who are so bitter about their past. Every child deserves love from both parents’ but the number of children that are being brought up by single parents or taken into children’s homes is very disturbing.

Some children are dumped in rubbish bins and find their way to an institution.Although single parenthood is usually associated with mothers, fathers too are known to have raised children when their partners decided to abandon their matrimonial homes.

One Harare man is so bitter with the way he was brought up and instead of improving his life by being a good parent, he too has taken the path which his father started when he was young.

This man is an achiever, very intelligent and a hard worker. But he has made so many women angry and bitter for he has dumped them, leaving them with very small children. Although he owns several supermarkets, he does not want any money channelled to these children. He treats the women exactly the same way his own father did to his mother.


But why do hurt people hurt other people? According to Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International, it is well known that those who have been emotionally damaged tend to inflict their hurt and pain on other people.

“For example, a large percentage of those who have been sexually abused become abusers of others; those who suffered under an alcoholic parent often themselves cause their future family to suffer because of their drunken stupors.”

Wright says the following are common traits hurt people display in their interactions with others.
Hurt people often transfer their inner anger onto their family and close friends.

Often those around them become the recipients of harsh tones and fits of rage because they have unknowingly become the vicarious recipients of transferred rage.

Hurt people interpret every word spoken to them through the prism of their pain

Because of their pain, ordinary words are often misinterpreted to mean something negative towards them.

Because of this, they are extremely sensitive and act out of pain instead of reality.
Hurt people interpret every action through the prism of their pain.

Their emotional pain causes them to suspect wrong motives or evil intent behind other people’s actions towards them.

Hurt people have a hard time entering into a trusting relationship.

Hurt people often carry around a suspicious spirit.

Hurt people often alienate others and wonder why no one is there for them.

They often continually hurt the ones they love and need the most with their self-destructive behaviour.
Hurt people have the emotional maturity of the age they received their (un-dealt with) hurt.

For example, if a girl was raped by a man when she was 12 years old, unless she forgives that man to allow healing and allay her fears, in that particular area of her life (sexuality with a man) her emotional growth will stop; even when she reaches her later years she may still have the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.Hurt people are often frustrated and depressed because past pain continually spills over into their present consciousness.

In many instances, they may not even be aware of why they are continually frustrated or depressed because they have coped with pain by compartmentalising it or layering it over with other things over time.

Hurt people often erupt with inappropriate emotion because particular words, actions, or circumstances “touch” and “trigger” past woundedness.

“I have been in situations with people in which there was a gross overreaction to a word I spoke or an action that was taken.

Although I was shocked and thought this reaction came ‘out of left field’, it was really the person responding to an accumulation of years of hurt and pain that could not help but spill over in various situations,” Wright said.

Hurt people often occupy themselves with busyness, work, performance, and/or accomplishments as a way of compensating for low self-esteem. A famous movie star once said: “If the public really knew us, they wouldn’t like us.”

The abused often go on to abuse others. The abandoned go on to abandon. Until we deal with our past, we tend to do the same or even worse to the closest people in our lives.

Feedback: rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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