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Andrea Anderson Polk’s Blog

Clinically Practiced, Biblically Informed

  • Writer's pictureAndrea Anderson Polk

Understanding People Who Abuse Others: Hurting People Hurt People

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Photo of a man and woman leaning on a tree and not looking at one another. Understanding people who abuse others: hurting people hurt people

Understanding that hurting people hurt people can help you accelerate your healing process. The insight gained from this truth will open doors of freedom and give you the ability to navigate relationships with success.

In my treatment of clients over the years, I've discovered that hurting people hurt people. All people carry their wounds, unresolved pain, and heartaches from their past. I have worked with numerous individuals who experience intense guilt and regret regarding their abusive behavior and desire to make amends.

I have such empathy and compassion for these men and women since there exists an underlying shame, which is primary to why they become defensive and angry and go on the attack quite easily due to their woundedness and delicate ego. I have found that beneath that external facade of self-confidence is a deeper layer of fragility, insecurity, and a fear of being seen as weak and a failure. These people are typically victims of abuse and trauma earlier in life. They can often appear to be arrogant and emotionally distant or cold. This can be a survival mode to compensate for the lack of self, believing at their core that they are unlovable and unworthy.

The good news is that you can heal regardless of whether or not the abusive person in your life is willing to do the necessary work to change their unhealthy behavior. They are not responsible for your healing—you are. And with God’s help and the help of others, you can be free.

Freedom is knowing this truth, which begins to shift how you operate within certain relationships.

It takes courage and deep commitment to do the healing work and not blame other people but still recognize your role in the relationship. Acknowledging this truth can be extremely difficult because when we face reality, face the lies we have been telling ourselves, and face painful emotions that we have buried. We become aware of just how much our false beliefs and toxic thoughts contribute to our suffering.

Healing consists of knowing the toxic relationships we have allowed in our lives and how we have nurtured them and neglected ourselves in the process.

Do you ever feel or experience the following things?

  • Leaving conversations with the person you are in a relationship with feeling confused, manipulated, deceived – even a bit crazy.

  • Your voice is rarely heard, your needs are left unmet, and you feel misunderstood.

  • You often feel ashamed and frustrated with yourself for not standing your ground and agreeing with them when you don’t.

  • You feel lonely within your relationship.

  • You say yes when you really mean no.

If you answered yes to any of those, I have designed a coaching program that can help you overcome and experience transformation, healing, and breakthrough if you are in a toxic relationship in your toxic relationship. Click HERE to learn more.

In the next post, I’ll be sharing what all toxic relationships have in common as well as ways to prevent yourself from being suspectable and vulnerable to attracting painful, confusing relationships.

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Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified, registered clinical supervisor, and certified professional coach. She has a private practice in Northern Virginia with nearly 20 years of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey.

She is driven by a deep calling to help ambitious women of faith experience healing and breakthrough so they can live each day with peace and purpose. 

Andrea believes healing happens through relationship. The wounds that occur in a relationship must be healed in a relationship. Andrea invites you into a life-altering relationship.

Work with Andrea one-one- by contacting her here.


Andrea has spent her career studying the human experience and has developed a fascinating analogy that compares cuckoo birds, nature’s master manipulator and imposter, to situations and relationships that leave us feeling drained, confused, lost, and empty. Her new book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, helps us fend off the cuckoos, the unhealthy relationships, toxic thinking, and self-sabotaging behaviors in our life that never truly satisfy the deep longings of our souls and the desires of our hearts. 

Andrea’s clinically proven, innovative method helps us recover the lost pieces of ourselves, discover meaning in suffering, and transform our pain into purpose by teaching us to uncover the truth of who we are and who God is so we can be healed and live free. 

Purchase the book Andrea’s clients call “a life-changing breakthrough” for yourself and the people you care about today.

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If you….

Feel internal pressure to do all things well. 

Tend to neglect your needs to please others and search for validation.

Continually attract toxic or one-sided relationships leaving you drained. 

Want to build a life that is unashamedly true to who you are and what you want.


Then…this is the time to reclaim your JOY, ENERGY, AND TIME so you can live each day with peace and purpose!


Curious to know how?

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