In my experience, abuse takes place everywhere. Sometimes, it is minute and at other times it is dominant. Even the roles get interchanged constantly. While a person might be an abuser at one point, the very same person might become a victim at another point in time. However, here we are concerned with the typical perpetrator who deliberately abuses others on a large scale.
Let's think about conditioning, social learning and coping strategies. A person who has been severely abused in a physical way, will have learned how to cope with this violence, and this includes knowing that counter-violence is un-productive (not working). Thus, a person who has been severely physically abused will not turn into a physical abuser.
Now, a person who has been severely emotionally abused, will have attempted to deal with this form of abuse and this is by trying to reason with the perpetrator because this is the only strategy which works at least sometimes. It is unlikely that a victim will become physical violent, because there is great danger that the perpetrator will react with even greater violence.
A person who has been sexually abused will be shy and will have problems enjoying sexual acts. It is very unlikely that a sexual victim will sexually abuse others. It is likely that a sexual victim becomes manipulative because this is the only way of fending off the perpetrator at least from time to time. The victim might additionally turn to self-harming.
The perpetrator on the other hand is a spoilt child who never grew up. It is a person who still believes that she is mummy's or daddy's little princess or the commander of a space ship. The perpetrator is out of touch with reality and views others as pawns within a game which the perpetrator controls. The perpetrator thinks her/himself above any law and believes that others fail to understand her or his superiority which is based on childhood fantasies.
Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl
Chameleon Group of Composers © 2007