Marge: You didn't want to have Bart.
Homer: I know, but you're not supposed to tell the child.
Marge: You tell Bart all the time! You told him this morning!
Homer: [flustered] But when I do it, it's cute!
The ways of dealing with an abusive situation in fiction vary, to say the least, depending on the author's opinions, the type of abuse portrayed, and even the genders of abuser and victim. Sometimes, it may be played for laughs, shown as not being a big deal, or portrayed as part of a loving relationship, despite the fact that the perpetrator's actions are clearly abusive, at least to the (aware) viewers. Other times, great care will be taken to detail the living hell the protagonist's life has been made by the Abusive Parent, Sadist Teacher, Domestic Abuse, or The Bully.
But sometimes, you'll find out that the character who is notable for behaving abusively toward one or more others has a Dark and Troubled Past themselves. Maybe they were abused at one point in their life, or are presently in an abusive situation. Or else, instead of or in addition to having been the target of an abuser, they saw something as a child they were not meant to see, were bullied and/or raped, Did Not Get the Girl, have a Cynicism Catalyst, or did something that they'll never get past and may even be trying desperately to make up for. The Troubled Abuser is different from other abusers in that they have had (or currently has) a hard life themself in addition to making one of these for at least one other person. It may be a result of an Inferiority Superiority Complex or else a form of Being Tortured Makes You Evil.
Compare this phenomenon to Kick the Dog, except that the designated kicker was a Kicked Dog themself, making it Dog Kicks Littler Dog. If a writer really wants to play this up, they can have a whole chain of Dogs kicking down the line in this fashion. If a whole chain of these is used, you can reasonably expect it to be used for An Aesop about how abuse only begets abuse.
Compare the Troubled Sympathetic Bigot, whose bigotry is seldom portrayed as sympathetic due to the ugly reputation bigotry has gained over the years but is nevertheless a sympathetic person. The Troubled Abuser, given that they are, well, troubled, automatically gains some measure of Woobie status due to their status as troubled being out in the open, but unlike bigotry, abuse is less likely to be portrayed in an unsympathetic light. Sometimes, the Troubled Abuser may also be a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot.
May overlap with Jerkass Woobie due to the common traits of having had a hard life and treating other people in a substandard way. After all, they of all people should know how bad being abused feels. However, abuse is sometimes portrayed in a positive light, so this is not always the case.
Comparable to, and sometimes overlapping with, Freudian Excuse, in which a villain cites a childhood of poor quality as having a role in their evil deeds or is revealed to have had a bad childhood in order to gain Woobie status. However, unlike a villain with a Freudian Excuse, the Troubled Abuser isn't just guilty of any morally questionable act, they are guilty of committing one or more of these acts against someone with whom they have or end up developing an interpersonal relationship. Additionally, the Troubled Abuser can be troubled in ways other than childhood experiences. Sometimes, the Troubled Abuser has a Freudian Excuse, in which case these two tropes overlap, but Freudian Excuse and Troubled Abuser are not exactly the same thing. For example, a serial killer who targets random women he doesn't know and is later revealed to have witnessed his mother attack his father with a knife on a regular basis would go under Freudian Excuse, but would not be a Troubled Abuser because he is committing crimes, but not against people he has a relationship with, or even interacts with on a regular basis. A female character who is the single mother of a child that she verbally abuses on a regular basis, if she even gives the kid any attention at all, but is revealed to be doing so because the kid is a Child by Rape and reminds her of her rapist is a Troubled Abuser without a doubt, but wouldn't fit under Freudian Excuse because the hard part of her life, as far as we know, did not happen in her childhood.
As tempting as it is to add large-scale criminals, such as practitioners of genocide, serial killers, etc. who happen to count as Troubled by virtue of having a Dark and Troubled Past or Freudian Excuse just because you think they are monstrous for their deeds, exercise great caution before you do. Simply doing evil deeds on a large scale does not make one an Abuser, which is the other part of the requirement to be listed here. However, that does not mean that large-scale criminals can't be abusers. Before listing any large-scale criminal, consult our handy Useful Notes page on the topic of abuse, read it thoroughly, and think carefully about whether or not any of the character or person's actions count as abuse. If they don't, then don't add them. If you've done your thinking and one or more of said criminal's actions seem to count as abusive to you, go ahead and add them, but give details on what they do that is abusive in the description.
- Tsukasa from Boys over Flowers. Didn't see his father in years, his mother Kaede was an Evil Matriarch who fucked up with his and his sister Tsubaki's lives ever since birth, his well-intentioned but troubled sister disciplined him harshly... and he grew into a MASSIVE bully with huge entitlement problems who pretty much ran Eitoku Academy through fear and could be very less-than-pleasant even to his close friends and his Tsundere love interest.
- Dragon Ball Z: In the Cell Saga, Vegeta was a horrible father to Future Trunks, physically and mentally abusing him. Of course, his own father raised him to be a cold, ruthless Social Darwinist, and after King Vegeta's death, Vegeta ended up under the care of Frieza, who twisted him into a sociopathic Jerkass even by Saiyan standards by nurturing his darker tendencies and regularly subjecting him to Fantastic Racism. By the end of the saga, Vegeta has a Jerkass Realization regarding his treatment of his son, and come the Buu Saga, he's a much better parent.
- Yuri's mother in Eternal Sabbath was beaten by her drunkard father and grows up to abuse her own daughter. Additionally, her own mother was too cowardly to do anything to protect her from her father's violence other than voice quiet token protests, making her think her mother didn't love her and leading her to believe she couldn't love Yuri either.
- In The Familiar of Zero, Tsundere Louise mistreats Saito, often causing him more injury than the main antagonists. Aside from Saito being a Lovable Sex Maniac, it's suggested Louise has had a long history of being bullied by the other students due to her inability to perform spells properly and used to be on the receiving end of her not - so - tiny Tsundere sister Eleonore's annoyance. (In fact, Eleonore is one of the few persons who scares the shit outta Louise.) Still not an excuse for how far she goes in her abuse of Saito.
- Fist of the North Star: Once upon a time, there was an elderly martial artist called Ougai, the successor of Nanto Hou Ou Ken (South Star Phoenix Fist) adopted an innocent baby boy. Teaching him everything he knew, he gave the orphan with all the warmth and love of his heart, raising him to the next successor of this mighty battle art. Little did the boy know on his fifteenth birthday, blindfolded for his final test, that the traditions of Nanto Hou Ou Ken demands one slay his own master to inherit his title. Driven mad by grief, the innocent boy known as Souther grew up into a heartless tyrant, whom after the world was consumed by nuclear fire, built an Empire on the blood and tears of slave children to renounce himself of the love that tore his heart apart.
- Akito Sohma from Fruits Basket fits this trope, her mental problems and abusive behavior being a product of the Sohma clan's toxic environment and conditioning like the rest of the Zodiac members. From the moment she was born, Akito was made to believe that the only reason why she was lovable and important is because she was the Zodiac's "God"; even her own father basically told her he doted on her because the "God" being his and Ren's child was proof of how "special" they were. Akito's mother was insanely jealous of her husband and everyone in the Sohma household showering Akito with attention while she was shunned for being a former maid, so she took it out on Akito by constantly telling her that she was worthless and eventually, everyone would hate and leave her. This all resulted in Akito developing an obsessive dependency on the Zodiac "bond" because she desperately wanted to believe the Zodiac animals would always love her and stay with her. Then, Akito discovered the bond was not eternal when Kureno's curse broke and this was a big hit to her mental and emotional stability. Ever since then, she has controlled the Zodiac members through extremely cruel physical and emotional abuse, especially the women due to her issues with her evil mother.
- Ritsuka's abusive and mentally unstable mother Misaki in Loveless is implied to be a former abuse victim.
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- Preica Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is horrifically abusive to her daughter, Fate, due to having been driven insane from the death of her real daughter, Alicia, whom Fate was cloned from to serve as a Replacement Goldfish.
- Defied by Fate. Due to all the physical and mental abuse she received at Precia's hands, she makes a conscious effort to break the cycle of abuse and be as good a parent as possible for her adoptive children.
- Klaus from Maiden Rose (drug-addicted, with lots of conflicting loyalties, a love interest with his own and strong issues);
- My Hero Academia eventually reveals Kotaro Shimura, Nana's child, to be one of these. His mother gave him up for adoption so she could continue her hero work (and so the villain with a personal vendetta against her wouldn't target her family to get to her, but Kotaro either doesn't know or doesn't acknowledge this). His feelings of abandonment resulted in him forbidding even the mention of heroism or Nana in his house, with harsh punishments if anyone ever broke the rule, like locking his young son Tenko outside and beating him for seeing a photograph of Nana. This still wound up ending really badly for him when Tenko activated his disintegration quirk after another episode of abuse, and while in a fragile emotional state, murdered Kotaro and the rest of his family, triggering his Start of Darkness as Tomura Shigaraki.
- Takumi Ichinose, Hachi's abusive boyfriend, from NANA has had an alcoholic father and an Ill Girl mother, so he and his sister were forced to raise themselves.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has Asuka, who constantly berates, belittles, and curses Shinji despite sharing an apartment with him and honestly wanting his attention. It's revealed that after an experiment gone wrong, Asuka's mother was driven mad and began treating a doll like it was her child and ignored her real daughter. Meanwhile, Asuka discovers her father is cheating on her mother with her mother's nurse. Asuka then finds her mother hanging from the ceiling, the little daughter doll hanging beside her. Asuka then throws all her desperate affections at Kaji who gently turns her down, but his kindness only feels like pity. She's left trying to pursue Shinji while still trying to keep him from getting close to her, causing her and him no end of stress.
- In Pupa, the protagonist's violently abusive father is revealed to have a horribly abusive upbringing himself, being an orphan who was adopted by a Mad Artist who would regularly strip him naked and whip him bloody in order to get an inspiration for his paintings.
Shiro: I have never been loved, so I don't know how to love.
- Kyouichi Saionji from Revolutionary Girl Utena, in spades. He's a wannabe bastard boyfriend who treats Anthy like absolute shit, scoffs at Wakaba's love letter, and is pretty much the Butt-Monkey of the Student Council — and also a dude who wasn't THAT bad as a pre-teen, but now has intense self-loathing and issues towards his best friend Touga, who exploits it for his own purposes.
- Souma Saiki from Sakura Gari: Horrifyingly abused by every single person he met ever since he was taken in by his Japanese family... Then he goes on abusing Masataka, the only person he feels that he can relate to.
- Sakuya Ookuchi from Sensual Phrase: ( Child by Rape, Broken Bird alcoholic mother who dies, Financial Abuse from his Parental Substitute, bullying and isolation due to his American heritage).
- Takopi's Original Sin has the eponymous Tako-pi befriend Shizuka, a 4th grader who is horribly bullied by her classmate, Marina. But Marina targeted Shizuka because her dad had an affair with Shizuka's mother, and her own mother became abusive towards her, and Marina blames Shizuka for her horrible home life.
- Mr. Legend's gradual power loss in Tiger & Bunny forced him into an unwanted early retirement and left him feeling useless and terrible. Said feelings of worthlessness led to him self-medicating with alcohol. Alcoholism led to arguments with his wife. Arguments while drunk lead to physical violence... And to his own death at the hands of his barely teenaged son, who'd become Yuri Petrov aka Lunatic.
- Kousei's mother in Your Lie in April is eventually revealed to be this - the reason she was such a stickler for playing the music as-written was due to her illness giving her only so much time to spend with him, and wanting to make sure he could provide for himself when she was gone.
- In The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner's father, Brian, beat his son out of envy for his wife Rebecca's attention, and the fear that his son was a monster (simply because Bruce was highly intelligent from an early age, potentially even more than Brian, who was a nuclear physicist). He later directs this abuse to his wife and eventually kills her, which leads to him being institutionalized. He later is released under his son's custody, and reveals that his own father abused him, and considers him a "monster". He later tries to kill Bruce to put an end to the "monster gene". It worked about as well as you'd expect. The later run of Immortal Hulk dives deeper into this further, and explains the extent of psychological damage this causes Bruce Banner for the rest of his life, leaving him unable to comprehend there can be love without pain. Brian's abuses led to Bruce creating the Devil Hulk as a father figure, who is himself quite unpleasant and rude.
- In The Maxx, big bad Mr. Gone is an evil sorcerer and serial rapist who, as a child, was repeatedly raped and humiliated by his aunt.
- The eponymous V of V for Vendetta by Alan Moore definitely counts. If kidnapping your protegee and intentionally putting her through the cruel ordeal of the life of a concentration camp inmate that you went through yourself doesn't count as abuse, then what does? However, V is portrayed as a Well-Intentioned Anti-Villain and/or Nominal Hero who has good intentions but repeatedly does things that are obviously immoral, and what he puts Evey through is given this same portrayal. His actions compared to those of the oppressive Norsefire government are meant to be morally ambiguous and the only reason that we are meant to sympathize with V is because, no matter how bad his actions are, even when it comes to what he did to Evey, we first see him saving Evey from being raped and murdered by the government's secret police.
- Orion Black from The Black Sheep Dog Series is an emotionally abusive father towards Sirius, whom he treats with open contempt. He repeatedly humiliates his eldest son, and even blackmails him into falling in line with the family's traditions, which Sirius hates. However, it is pretty much stated that Orion's father, Arcturus, is an even worse parent to both Orion and his sister, Lucretia; and even as an adult, Orion is still unable to stand up against his father's domineering. This is most evident in chapter 5, where after berating and threatening his eldest son for infiltrating his own grandfather's birthday party as a spy for Dumbledore, he immediately becomes timid and obedient when his own father bears down on him. Sirius is not afraid to use this fact to call out his father's injustices.
Sirius: You've never once stood up to that man. You've bowed and scraped and let your father bully you your entire life, and you can't stand that I refuse to let you do the same to me.
- As we find out later in Cellar Secrets, Ragyo is this. You see, she had some sort of mental illness and didn't get help. Because of said mental illness, Souichiro would have left and taken custody of their daughters had he not have died. To add to this, Ryuuko was conceived as her marriage failed and got worst of her abuse.
- In Crimson and Emerald, Endeavor is eventually revealed to be this. His own father, Ryu Todoroki, was abusive to his wife and young Enji, to the point that Enji grew up to believe that such treatment of one's family was normal. This, combined with his issues over being Always Second Best, turned someone who Used to Be a Sweet Kid into the Jerkass Abusive Parent of the current day.
- Last Call: Lapis has suffered physical and sexual abuse throughout her life, and in turn physically and mentally abused her now-ex-girlfriend Jasper.
- In the Vocaloid Problems AU fic, "The Morning After", Meiko is a drunk domestic abuser who beats her boyfriend Kaito, just as her abusive father had beaten her as a child.
- With Pearl and Ruby Glowing has a few abused characters repeating their own abuse on others, mostly kids too young to grasp what happened to them properly; Myrtle Edmonds repeated her aunt's assault on her on Lilo, and Lock, Shock, and Barrel performed sex acts on a sleeping Victor Van Dort because Oogie Boogie had previously trained them to do so with him. Fan-written segment "Campfire Stories" has been approved by the main fic's authors, and depicts Randal similarly as a survivor and drug addict, re-enacting his own abuse on Boo.
- Discussed The Peace Not Promised. The main reason why Lily's father starts off being against her relationship with Severus is because he grew up in an abusive household and would be at risk for turning abusive himself (not helped by the fact that he had already called her a highly offensive slur the prior year).
- The Emperor's New Groove: Kuzco is a selfish, cruel, conceited Spoiled Brat who thinks the world revolves around him, but he became that way as a result of being raised by Yzma, who's much the same. With that in mind, he's lucky he didn't turn out even worse.
- Steven Universe: The Movie: Spinel is revealed to be this: she was made to be Pink Diamond's goofy, childlike playmate, but when Pink Diamond got her own colony, she left Spinel behind in their private garden under the pretense of playing the "standing still game" until she returned. Spinel stood still in the garden for 6000 years, and it wasn't until Steven's broadcast that she learned the truth: Pink is Deader Than Dead, she made new friends and had a son, and even if she was still around, she never intended to come back for Spinel anyway. It was specifically the trauma of being discarded and abandoned by someone she loved and trusted that drove her to try and destroy Steven and Earth out of revenge. One of the movie's Aesops is to refute this trope: being abused doesn't give you the right to deliberately hurt other people, especially if they had nothing to do with your trauma.
- Downplayed in SHAZAM! (2019), with Billy's biological mother. While "abuser" might be pushing it, she certainly didn't come off as thoughtful towards Billy given her distant attitude when he wanted to reconcile with her and her callous abandonment of him when he was young. However, she was shown to have a rather difficult life herself since both her parents disowned her for having Billy young and her boyfriend ended up getting incarcerated, thus receiving absolutely no support in raising her son.
- The Wachowskis' film version of V for Vendetta has V put Evey through an ordeal much like the one he suffered in a concentration camp, just as in the original comics. However, the Wachowskis gave V a more sympathetic portrayal than Alan Moore did and had Evey fall in love with V even after all that he put her through. Even though what she went through is meant to be horrifying to the audience as well as her, her falling in love with V still seems uncomfortably like Stockholm Syndrome.
- J. K. Rowling seems to be a big fan of this trope, given how many characters in the Harry Potter series are these.
- Severus Snape is notable for his being a Sadist Teacher who favors Slytherins over those from other Houses and dishing out cruelty, insults, and strictness to the latter. However, starting from Prisoner of Azkaban, the reader discovers that he is one of these. He was bullied throughout his school years by the Marauders (though it's unclear whether he or they instigated their antagonistic relationship), hinted to have had an abusive or at least neglectful father and neglectful mother, and lost any chance of being with his one true love, Lily Evans, when he called her a Fantastic Slur and joined a hate group. Then he had to watch her date and marry one of his bullies (who, unlike Snape, has learned his lessons and stopped being a Jerkass) and have a child with him. Finally, she ended up dying for that child, despite his attempts to make a deal with Voldemort to save her life. He then spends the next sixteen years trying to make up for what he's done and playing a vital role as Dumbledore's double agent...while in a parallel bullying Neville to the point of traumatizing him, psychologically abusing Harry due to his heritage, verbally abusing Hermione when she's crying over having been humiliated by Draco, (note that these are all children), etc.
- Sirius subjects his house-elf, Kreacher, to a barrage of verbal and physical abuse in Order of the Phoenix because he goes out of his way to be a reminder of Sirius' rotten childhood caused by his status as The Un-Favourite in the eyes of his parents, who unsubtly liked his brother Regulus better than him while they are stuck in the same house for a year due to Sirius being under a Dumbledore imposed house arrest. Even after he left his Abusive Parents, he couldn't catch a break. His best friends were betrayed by someone they thought was their friend, resulting in the deaths of two of them orphaning their son, Sirius' godson. To top it all off, he was blamed for every crime that said false friend committed and sent to Azkaban, where he was subjected to enough Mind Rape to make him Younger Than They Look. Kreacher in turn hates him and does everything he can to annoy Sirius. Dumbledore notes that Sirius was nice to house-elves for the most part, but Kreacher was a living reminder of the home and family he hated, and Sirius took his frustrations out on the house-elf. Harry, who is Nice to the Waiter and doesn't have Sirius' past with Kreacher, quickly gains the elf's loyalty.
- Merope, Voldemort's mother, was subjected to a barrage of verbal and physical abuse by both her brother and her father, some of it for the reason that she was a Stalker with a Crush on Tom Riddle Sr., a Muggle. Then when both of them were locked away in Azkaban, she slipped Tom Riddle, Sr. a Love Potion, using the induced infatuation to get him to marry her and do the nasty with her enough times to conceive Tom Riddle, Jr., who later comes to be known as Voldemort.
- Harry's Aunt Petunia is notorious for being one of Harry Potter's Abusive Muggle Foster Parents, but then we find out that she was jealous of her sister Lily's turning out to be a witch. She not only begged to be able to go to Hogwarts, but she felt overshadowed by her sister in the eyes of their parents (which wasn't exactly Lily's fault, though, and does NOT justify her horrible treatment of Harry).
- So many works by Stephen King feature at least one of these
- In It, Beverly's abusive husband is revealed in the narration to have had a physically abusive father.
- The novel Rage (1977) focuses on a school shooting in which Charlie Decker, the Villain Protagonist, kills multiple people and holds several students hostage. The narration reveals that Charlie Decker has suffered multiple incidents of physical abuse at the hands of his father, including one where Charlie Decker was hit so hard with a belt that it required a trip to the emergency room, where Charlie gave a Cut Himself Shaving excuse to explain his injuries.
- In another Stephen King novel, Carrie, the eponymous character is regularly subjected to loads of abuse by her widowed Christian fundamentalist mother, Margaret White. We later find out that Carrie is a Child by Rape. At one point, Carrie's parents were so hard-line fundamentalist that they were remaining celibate and then Mr. White changed his mind and forced himself on Margaret in a combination of "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization and Marital Rape License. She is so ashamed of having "sinned" and so unwilling to think of her experience as rape that she refuses to believe that she's pregnant when she is, calling it "a cancer of the womanly parts."
- Jack Torrance, who suffered horrific physical abuse at the hands of his father and watched him brutalize his mother and siblings, abuses and attempts to murder his wife and his son in The Shining.
- In the novel Starfish, one of the characters is a pedophile named Gerry. At some points, the narration follows his point-of-view, and it's revealed that he himself was molested as a child.
- Edward Cullen in Twilight was orphaned by The Spanish Flu as a teenager and is trying to make up for a period of time in which he killed humans and drank their blood. Also, from how his family describes his behavior just before he met Bella, he seems to have met the criteria for clinical depression. Despite being Bella's love interest, that hasn't stopped the multitude of pieces published on the Internet on why he is a domestic abuser. For one thing, he sabotaged Bella's truck when she was about to go out to see her friend Jacob. Controlling where a partner can or can't go or who they can or can't have contact with, as well as damaging their personal property, is abusive behavior and is noted as such in resources on dealing with abuse.
- In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Warren, one of the Scary Black Man attendants who are downright abusive toward the patients of the mental hospital they work in, is said to have seen his mother being raped by a white man as a child.
- AM's sole female victim, Ellen, is subjected to abuse by Gorrister and (At the very least an emotional level, although it may have gone further seeing his status as an Unreliable Narrator) Ted, who AM has also been torturing nonstop for 109 years. The other two victims are either too insane to possibly do anything or apathetic to the whole thing.
- Though far more and extreme and far less understandable, AM itself. It was built as a war machine, but was hated and feared by its creators for doing its job — originally named "Allied Mastercomputer", they quickly started bemoaning it as "Aggressive Machine". 109 years after it takes over the world, AM is just as trapped as its victims, with complete control over its captives but unable to better itself in any way, howling in rage at its own powerlessness.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Aunt Helen was molested as a young girl, which is why she herself molested Charlie.
- The End of Alice by A.M. Homes features a pedophile who was sexually abused by his mother as a child. Both the sexual abuse he inflicted on a young girl before killing her as well as that he received are described in graphic detail that certainly qualifies as High Octane Nightmare Fuel.
- In Mercedes Lackey's When the Bough Breaks, the rich and successful father horrifically sexually abuses his preteen daughter. When he's brought to the elven version of justice, it's shown that his father physically and psychologically abused him as a child.
- Done heartbreakingly well in Chronicles of the Kencyrath. Ganth, the main characters' father was incredibly abusive, throwing out his 7-year-old daughter into the Haunted Lands when he found out she was magical. In the first few books, he seems one-dimensionally evil. Several books in, you learn that Ganth was abused by his own father and that his hatred and fear of magic stems from the fact that his brother used magic to rape him when they were young. All of the women in his family—including his grandma and sister who he loved—were killed by assassins. He led his people to war and suffered a shocking defeat. He became an exile and ended up living in the Haunted Lands. The woman who he truly believed was his One True Love—his children's mother—became his consort, but then she left him without any explanation. His daughter turned out to magic, just like the rapist brother. Ganth was beaten and broken again and again by his Trauma Conga Line life, and by the time his children were born—near the end of his life—he taught them "Destruction begins with love." because that's really what he believed. Trishien lampshades this in The Sea of Time:
Trishien: You always did hide behind your anger, Ganth. When you couldn't have what you wanted, you tried to tear down everything, at whatever cost to anyone else. You were hurt, by your brother, by your father, by life, so you hurt others.
- Wuthering Heights is full of these: Heathcliff is abused by his adoptive brother Hindley (who is also a mild example because of his status as The Unfavorite and his deterioration after his wife dies), who becomes his guardian after the death of his adoptive/Hindley's biological father, and as a result is abusive towards his wife, nephew, daughter-in-law, and son (who also becomes this trope after moving in with his father).
- A Tale of...:
- The Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs forces Snow White to work and dress as a servant in her own residence and even tries to have her murdered. In her A Tale of... novel, the Queen, named Grimhilde, is revealed to have been made insecure about her appearance by her emotionally and physically abusive father who blames her for her mother dying in childbirth. Grimhilde tried to be a good step-mother to Snow but she snapped after her husband, the King, died in war. Grimhilde became grief-stricken and began obsessing over the Man in the Mirror. This is due to the Mirror containing the soul of her father, who Grimhilde desperately wants approval from after years of abuse. Eventually, this obsession leads to Grimhilde neglecting Snow White for years and then eventually becoming jealous of her daughter once she grows more beautiful than her.
- Cinderella becomes an Hourglass Plot. Her Wicked Stepmother, Lady Tremaine, married Sir Richard, only to find out that he only wed her for her inheritance from her first husband. He forces her to cook and clean and care for Cinderella like a nanny, and is even a Wicked Stepfather to Anastasia and Drizella, making them do chores and refusing to present them at court while Blanca try favoring Cinderella over them. When Lady Tremaine plans to leave Richard, her Innocently Insensitive stepdaughter, blind to her fathers Domestic Abuse, told him her stepmothers plans. Richard threatened Lady Tremaine and locked her in her room for trying to leave him. Desperate and bitter, Lady Tremaine murders Sir Richard to escape his abuse, and then makes his daughter into a servant like he did her and her daughters, as she blames Cinderella for telling her father, which she believes ways intentionally malicious.
- Frank Bennett in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a cold, hateful man who regularly beats and rapes his wife, Ruth Jamison. While not excusing his behavior, the novel reveals it to be because he himself as a child was regularly beaten by his father, and had to discover firsthand that his beloved mother was committing adultery.
- In most incarnations of Blackadder, the title character heavily abuses Baldrick, often in frustration at his mistreatment at the hands of his own higher power (often a monarch). His lampshading of The Chain of Harm scenario in the third installment is the page quote.
- An early episode of Criminal Minds cites the statistic that "one in eight abuse victims becomes an abuser themselves." Most of the unsubs they deal with don't meet the trope description of "abuser" (since they tend to take their aggression out on strangers), but most of those that do tend to be victims themselves.
- General Hospital: Kiefer Bauer, Kristina's abusive boyfriend, ends up beating her so brutally she lands in the hospital on two separate occasions. After he's killed by Alexis in an accidental hit and run, his father Warren starts harassing her and Kristina non-stop; during one such confrontation, Sonny gets involved and accuses Warren of being an Abusive Parent to Kiefer on the grounds that abusers learn their habits from others. During a later confrontation with Kristina, Warren corners her and tries to slap her only to be stopped by Michael, who notes that he was going to hit her "just like Kiefer", seemingly confirming that Kiefer got his abusive habits from his father.
- Game of Thrones: Cersei Lannister. Between her experiences with her abusive husband, controlling, emotionally abusive father, and uncontrollable psychopathic son, Cersei takes it out on whom she has a chance at the moment. Sometimes it's Tyrion (though it tends to backfire on her). More often it's Sansa.
- The eponymous character in House was abused by his father when he was a child, and as an adult tends to take advantage of the people around him and can be verbally abusive towards them (although he does get the occasional Pet the Dog moment). This is taken to a new level in the Season 7 finale when, after his girlfriend Cuddy leaves him and goes on a date with someone else, he vandalizes her house in a fit of rage via Car Fu.
- Sam Puckett commits Domestic Abuse to her boyfriend Freddie on iCarly. One episode reveals that her father walked out on her whole family.
- A number of characters across the morality spectrum in Kamen Rider were majorly screwed over by past abuse and are taking it out on someone later on. While the approach of individual series varies, the general consensus through the franchise is that being a Jerkass Woobie is not an excuse even for trying to destroy the world, let alone more mundane things.
- Comes up more than a few times in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. How sympathetic or unsympathetic the person in question is is varies based on the details of the situation, including the severity of their actions and the extent to which they understood what they were doing.
- Lionel Luthor on Smallville is an Archnemesis Dad who abuses his son Lex financially and emotionally in an attempt at making him stronger. He is absolutely ruthless in his desire to make Lex into a worthy heir for his corporate empire, and easily deserves the title of "Worst Father Ever." In Season 3, however, we learn that Lionel's own parents were a pair of alcoholic washouts who beat him regularly and went out of their way to sabotage his success; if Lionel can be trusted, they actually wanted him to end up just like them. He eventually killed them, then fabricated a new past for the family, claiming descent from Scottish nobility. Not only does this explain Lionel's drive for success, but it also helps to demonstrate why he seems to be unaware that he is abusing Lex: in Lionel's mind, abuse is physical; he sees himself as an involved parent and nothing worse.
- In Stranger Things, Billy is a massive Jerkass to his step-sister Max, threatening her and yelling at her constantly. Within a few episodes it's revealed that his own father is far, far worse, and since he can't fight back, he takes it out on Max.
- Veronica Mars:
- Aaron Echolls, who abuses his son. We learn later that his father was also an abusive alcoholic who beat his mother in front of him and put out cigarettes in his hands.
- The abused child in question, Logan Echolls torments Veronica, provides the drugs that are used in her rape, and arranges such deranged activities as "bum fights." Despite being one of her biggest tormenters, he eventually became Veronica's boyfriend. He became woobified, as large portions of the audience chose to excuse his actions on the basis of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.
- WandaVision: Wanda gaslights Vision and to some extent keeps him under her control, but not out of active malice. The Hex started out as Wanda's powers going haywire with grief and everything was originally subconscious. However when she began to realize what was going on she couldn't bring herself to end it because she was finally happy. She convinced herself that she was making things better for the towns people (fixing a marriage, helping a guy shine as a pianist) and making them feel safe. But once she's confronted with the truth of how much pain she's caused she finally ends it, despite it costing her her husband and children. Plus, when she believed that Vision had left her and their sons, she said that if Vision didn't want her anymore she couldn't force him to return.
- Discussed in the Eric Bogle song "Daniel Smiling".
"That brutalised children become adults who then brutalize."
- As well as the tool song "Prison Sex".
"I do unto others, what has been done to me. Do unto others, what has been done to you."
- "Family Tree" by Megadeth is about familial abuse, heavily implied to be sexual abuse. This line in the song suggests that the abuser was also abused by their family:
"I know they were doin' it to you, but don't try doin' it to me."
- One could make the argument that Zeus from Classical Greek Mythology counts as this. Zeus tends to act like a huge dick towards his siblings, his wife and his children. But it should be remembered that Zeus didnt exactly have a happy childhood or loving parents either. His father Kronos/Cronus treated Zeus and his siblings the same way that Zeus treats his current family, to the point that Kronos/Cronus tried to outright eat his children.
- Cid in Final Fantasy VII is not exactly a bad person but he is verbally abusive to his housemate Shera, but in his case, he's deeply depressed about having his dreams crushed. He knows Shinra was responsible for doing it and even cites financial reasons, but blames Shera for it anyway since she was in danger and Cid forfeited his dreams so she wouldn't die. When it turns out Shera did have a very good point that wasn't related to Shinra, Cid goes "My God, What Have I Done?" mode and apologizes to her for what he put her through.
- Mystery Case Files: Escape From Ravenhearst — Charles Dalimar claims to be this. (Well, technically, he never admits to the "Abuser" part, just the "Troubled".)
- Fate/stay night: Matou Shinji's evil grandfather raised him with some seriously warped values that resulted in an Inferiority Superiority Complex; he vents his frustration onto his sister, Sakura, because her lack of resistance to his abuse lets him delude himself into thinking she's lower than him in the pecking order. He only started abusing her after finding out that she'd been adopted to replace him as heir to the family's magecraft, which, due to said warped values, left him feeling completely worthless.
- Makihisa Toono from Tsukihime suffers from a constant risk of being taken over by his family's demon blood and his only guaranteed method is keeping his mind under control is forcing an 8 years-old Kohaku into sexual intercourse. The same situation later happens to his children SHIKI and Akiha. That said, the Toono family can be considered one of the most sympathetic examples of this trope, as even their victim acknowledges that they did what they because they had no other choice.
- Umineko: When They Cry has both Rosa Ushiromiya and her father Kinzo.
- Rosa was abused by Kinzo, tormented by her brothers and sister (which Rudolf acknowledges at some point), and is a single mother where the father of her daughter Maria left her without marrying her and while she was pregnant. All in all, her life's a train wreck. Is it any wonder that she winds up taking so much of it out on Maria, as much as poor Maria doesn't deserve it?
- As for Kinzo, he's manipulated as the heir to the Ushiromiya family, seeks his own death, is sent off to World War II, and meets his love, Beatrice Castiglioni, only to have her and later her daughter both die. He winds up half-insane, is abusive to most of his children (for example to Eva by denying her the right to be the heir purely for her gender despite being more talented in business than her eldest brother Krauss) and has a child with his illegitimate daughter, Beatrice Ushiromiya, through implied rape. All in all, he had a terrible past - but he IS the one who made the Ushiromiyas the Big, Screwed-Up Family they are.
- RWBY: Having been a victim of abuse herself, Cinder Fall's tutelage of her subordinate Emerald is also abusive as her role-models for leadership and power are rooted in people abusing both power and the people who work for them. A lot of Cinder's mannerisms and instructions to Emerald mimic the mannerisms and instructions Salem inflicts upon her, such as telling Emerald to obey instead of think, something Salem also tells her. Her abusive adoptive mother is another one of her inspirations, as revealed in her backstory. Her mother used to torture her with a Shock Collar and tell her to "remember her place", while in the present, Cinder says the same to Emerald after hitting her.
- In Drowtales, Kel'noz suggests that this is the case for Babysitter from Hell Syphile.
- Slightly Damned: Kieri's mother watched her whole family die. It permanently drove her cruel and insane, and the tyranny of the Council of Angels meant they endorsed her madness. As for Kazai, he is too dumb to realize that emulating his mother gets him nowhere.
- Between Kings And Queens: Dromir is little more than a vicious attack dog; completely loyal to the royal family and willing to whip and maim children, including his own son, if they seem to act like they're equals to royals. Except we discover that his predecessors tortured him in the past, a lot, especially since his childhood and early career took place during the reign of The Caligula.
- Popopoka's Blind Girl comics features a recurring bully girl who stops at nothing to pick on the heroine, even encouraging other people to do the same (not like that's hard, since nearly everyone is an asshole to her anyway). One selection of comics shows that this bully actually has severe self esteem issues of her own, to the point where she's cutting herself, but the reason for it has yet to be revealed. She also seems to secretly crave the Blind Girl's attention, but her insecurities combined with her own self-loathing make her lash out at the girl instead.
- Springhole: In On Writing Abusers, Abuse Victims & Abuse Situations, Syera addresses that abusers are people who have problems just like everyone else, pointing out that the popular depiction of abusers will prompt real-life abusers to bring up their problems when called out on their behavior, while perpetuating the myth that an abuser will stop being an abuser if they experience emotional pain.
- Toki. She starts out like this and abuses her friends and then Frailine. Her reasons for any of this: She's mentally ill and cannot always discern right from wrong, and another is that she was abused and almost died of leukemia as a result of her caregiver's neglect (something she can't let go and that drove her insane, thus making her ticking time bomb all through high school, in which she was borderline insane) and now wanted to be the one in control and the one to hurt. Her reasons for abusing Frailine is because its more like revenge and a slap to the face to her deceased adopted (technically foster) mother for abusing her after Frailine was born, Irrational Hatred, and Misplaced Retribution. Sad thing about that, she wasn't always like this and was once very sweet, making her sort of a Jerkass Woobie and her past a Break the Cutie.
- 12: Reed is established as this in Chapter II of Origins. He is physically and emotionally abusive to his housemate, Ivy, and the cause is clearly grounded in his own psychological issues- He was abused by his own father at a young age and is still working through the trauma, he's struggling with his self-worth, and it's heavily implied he's scared of being alone. After Ivy runs away, he begins to reflect on his past mistakes, and in his last scene he decides to run off on his own.
- American Dad!: Stan Smith is hardly a decent father, but his own parents were even worse. His father was cruel and neglectful and completely abandoned the family when Stan was 8, and his mother expected him to take over the role as man of the house, costing him his entire childhood and leading to a disturbingly co-dependent relationship between them in adulthood.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- For most of the first and second seasons, Prince Zuko is a highly frustrated young man, who in his hunt for the Avatar frequently lashes out at his own crew, is introduced threatening a bunch of defenseless Water Tribe peasants, burns down or damages whatever Earth Kingdom settlement he comes across, and after becoming a fugitive he spends most of his time responding poorly to whatever hospitality the Earth Kingdom citizens show him. He also has a history of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father, Fire Lord Ozai, who heavily favored his more talented and inherently cruel younger sister and is in the comics revealed to be responsible for his mother's disappearance, too. All of this abuse culminated in Ozai scarring the left side of Zuko's face for life and banishing him until he could return home with the Avatar, unseen for a hundred years. Zuko's desperation to "earn his father's love" is the primary reason he has such a one-track mind and can't respond properly to shown kindness.
- BoJack Horseman's childhood was terrible, especially when he had to contend with Beatrice, his crappy mother but, when we see her childhood, we find out that it wasn't sunshine and rainbows either, adding to this is that her lobotomized mother, Honey, said "Promise me you won't love anyone like I loved CrackerJack". She made good on that promise.
- Mister Ruckus, Uncle Ruckus's father from The Boondocks, was continuously abused by both his mother Nelly and multiple white men, leading him to be abusive towards Uncle in return.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: Eustace is a complete Jerkass to everyone and everything he comes across, especially Courage, who he constantly insults, scares, and even physically abuses. Come "Mother's Day," we're introduced to his mother, Ma Bagge, who treats him exactly the same way he treats Courage.
- In The Dreamstone, Elite Mooks Urpgor and Sgt Blob are often shown ordering about and abusing lower Urpneys, something that makes some sense given they are most often at the brunt of Zordrak's horrible temper.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: Throughout most of the series, Eddy is a greedy, narcissistic Jerkass who abuses and takes advantage of his friends on a regular basis. The Grand Finale, Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, reveals what made him this way: as it turns out, Eddy was emulating his brother, who, far from the Cool Big Bro Eddy painted him as, is actually a sadistic Big Brother Bully who gleefully abuses him both physically and verbally and freely admits to have treated Eddy as such his entire life.
- Family Guy: Peter Griffin is an abusive and cruel Psychopathic Manchild to his family, especially his daughter Meg. The episode "Peter's Sister" reveals that this is because of his Big Sister Bully Karen, who abused and treated him exactly how he treats Meg when they were kids, with their parents doing nothing to stop it, and continues to do so into their adulthood.
- God, the Devil and Bob had Bob's father, who was emotionally and verbally abusive towards his son right up until his death. At the end of the episode, God puts it in perspective by mentioning that Bob's grandfather was worse.
- Pacifica Northwest from Gravity Falls is introduced as a stuck-up classist bully. Later, it is revealed that not only is there constant pressure put on her by her stuck-up classist parents but that she is also the victim of some unnerving psychological abuse that makes her comply with them and the way they want her to be.
- In Hey Arnold!, the eponymous character has a Stalker with a Crush named Helga who is also eager to hide the fact that she has a crush on Arnold... by subjecting him to relentless bullying and harassment that includes physical and verbal abuse. She also has Abusive Parents who favor her older sister over her and barely pay attention to her (and said sister doesn't have it much better).
- Kaeloo: Mr. Cat regularly abuses Quack Quack, and sometimes Stumpy, for no apparent reason. He also had an abusive and neglectful family.
- On Moral Orel, both Clay Puppington and his father qualify for this trope. As a child, Clay inadvertently caused his mother's death. His father Arthur initially responding by lashing out at Clay but decided to simply ignore him instead. Clay became so desperate for his father's attention that he would deliberately provoke Arthur into hitting him. As an adult, Clay would physically and psychologically abuse his own son Orel because he associated abuse with love. This is lampshaded in Before Orel when Arthur sees what a mess Clay has become as an adult and realizes just how badly his abuse has screwed his son up.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The episode "One Bad Apple" gives us this trope when the Cutie Mark Crusaders learn that Babs Seed, who had been fiercely bullying them for days now, had only come to Ponyville to get away from the heartache and bullying she had been experiencing back home. The Crusaders realize that this is what prompted her to join with the local Alpha Bitches rather than stand up to them.
- Another episode reveals that the bullying Alpha Bitch Diamond Tiara has a horrible home life where she's abused by her mother and it's revealed she's secretly jealous of the true friendship the Cutie Mark Crusaders have. They're able to convince her to make a HeelFace Turn.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: This is a noticeable part of The Chain of Harm theming that the first four seasons have.
- Catra was raised abusively by Shadow Weaver, even given death threats as a small child and to say this left an impact would be an understatement. As a result, Catra treats basically everyone around her cruelly: she berates and insults Entrapta, casually threatens even Scorpia, and her relationship with Adora had strong All Take and No Give overtones where Catra would often take advantage of Adora's hard work, encourage her to break rules for her, and get jealous of Adora's popularity with the other cadets (having even scratched her once when they were little after Adora got close to Lonnie). When Adora defected, one of the big her motives as her descent into villainy worsened was to inflict as much pain on Adora as possible, physical and emotional for her perceived betrayal and Catra's Always Second Best issues.
- Hordak sees most of his minions as tools to be discarded the moment they cease to be useful, tortured Catra on two occasions after she displeased him, and sent her on a suicide mission. "Huntara" reveals that Horde Prime saw Hordak and his fellow clones as disposable tools as well. When Hordak exhibited symptoms of a medical condition, Horde Prime neck-lifted him before sending him to die in battle for being flawed.
- Light example from The Simpsons, Homer Simpson frequently physically abuses Bart, it is often revealed in flashbacks that his own father Abe was rather aloof and emotionally abusive to him as well. Abe was in some cases even seen strangling Homer in the same manner the latter does to Bart today.
Homer: He said I was an accident, he didn't wanna have me.
Marge: You didn't want to have Bart.
Homer: Yeah but you're not supposed to tell the child.
Marge: You tell Bart all the time, you told him this morning.
Homer: *flustered* But when I do it, it's cute!
- Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog:
- In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik is a Bad Boss to the double-digit nth degree, physically and verbally abusing Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts on a constant basis for reasons ranging from failing his latest Evil Plan to simply because they didn't make him the breakfast he wanted. A recurring character in the series is his mother Momma Robotnik, who's just as mean, cruel, and abusive as he is, if not even more so, is one of the few forces he truly fears, and openly admits in the episode "Zoobotnik" that she deliberately raised him to be a dishonest supervillain; with all of that, it's easy to see how Robotnik turned out the way he did.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Robotnik, who is incredibly abusive to his nephew Snively, was revealed in "The Void" to have initially been a subordinate to wizard Naugus, who used his magic to torture and intimidate Robotnik. The fact Snively thought his treatment was Actually Pretty Funny probably only furthered Robotnik's spite towards him, however. In the planned third season Naugus would have returned, actually reducing Robotnik to a cowering toady similar to Snively.
- The South Park episode "Cartman Sucks" has a subplot where Butters gets sent to a "straight camp" that very Anviliciously shows how ineffective, pointless, and wrong it is to attempt to Cure Your Gays. One example is one of the staff members, who cheerfully tells the campers that being gay and bisexual is abnormal and encourages them to "pray the gay away" from the inside of a Transparent Closet. To inspire them, he tells about how he was once gay, but not no longer because he turned straight by way of praying to God to make him straight, which he was obviously encouraged to do when he was younger by one or more homophobic authority figures.
- Steven Universe: Lapis suffers from trauma caused by being trapped in a mirror for hundreds of years. As a result, she's distant and standoffish to even her closest friends. Lapis took off much of her anger on Jasper by forcing them into an unstable fusion underneath the ocean for several months.