Characteristics of Batterers

Have low self esteem.

Even though a lot of batterers might appear to be 'tough", "strong", and "confident", more often than not they really suffer from low self-esteem. They may feel that they fall short in the area of their own sex stereotype and so they overcompensate with hyper-masculinity. If they are emotionally "needy", and they have become dependent on their partner, the thought of losing that partner feels threatening and thus behaviors of controlling and jealousy follow.

Rush in to relationships

Many victims dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. Abusers can come on like a whirl-wind claiming "love at first sight", and using flattery such as "youíre the only person I could ever talk to", "Iíve never felt loved like this by anyone". They may need someone desperately, and will pressure the other partner to commit to a relationship before they are truely ready.

Are excessively jealous

An abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it's a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. In a healthy relationship, the partners trust each other unless one of them has legitimately done something to break that trust.

Exhibit controlling behavior

Often at the beginning, a batterer will say that this behavior is because they are concerned for your safety, a need for you to use time well or to make good decisions. Abusers will be angry if you are "late" coming back from the store or an appointment; you will be questioned closely about where you went, who you talked to. At this behavior gets worse, the abuser may not let you make personal decisions about the house, your clothing, or going to church. They may keep all the money; or may make you ask permission to leave the house or room.

Have unrealistic expectations or demands

Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs: the perfect partner, lover, and friend. They say things like "if you love me, I'm all you need and you're all I need". They may expect you to take care of everything for them; emotionally, physically, and sometimes economically. However, this is not natural or healthy in a relationship. Instead, partners in healthy relationships encourage each other to pursue their dreams, to have friends and interests outside of the relationship and take pride in their partner in these things.

Use isolation to keep you centered on them

The abusive person tries to cut the partner off from all resources. If you have same-sex friends, you are a "whore", a "slut" or "cheating". If you are close to family, you're "tied to the apron strings". The abuser will accuses people who are supportive of causing trouble, and may restrict use of the phone. They will gradually isolate you from all of your friends. They may not let you use a car (or have one that is reliable), and may try to keep you from working or going to school. Some abusers will try to get you into legal trouble so that you are afraid to drive or go out.

Believe in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine role in the family.

Batterers are often obsessive about appearing to the "the man of the house" and they tend to hold very high and rigid rules about how they get act because they are "the man" - often leading them to feel the need to dominate and control and to expect their word and their needs to be catered to at all times, including in the bedroom. The abuser sees you as unintelligent, inferior, responsible for menial tasks, and less than whole without the relationship. They will often tell you that no one else would want you or that you are nothing without them. They will remind you of their "provider role" - everything they have done for you.

Use of force during sex

This kind of person may like to act out fantasies where the partner is helpless. They let you know that the idea of rape is exciting. They may show little concern about whether you wants to have sex, and use sulking or anger to manipulate you. They may start having sex with you while you are sleeping, or demand sex when you are ill or tired. They may want to "make up" by having sex after they have just been physically or verbally abusive to you.

Have poor communication skills

Some people talk with their words, while others talk with their fists (actions). Batterers typically have trouble with discussing "feelings", especially very strong ones like anger or frustration. Some may feel that "having feelings" and talking out problems goes against the sterotyped male role that they have bought into (see above). Without the skills or self-permission to express themselves in constructive ways (ie in a way that feels uncomfortable or where they feel inadequate), they often lash out with violence.

Use drinking and battering to cope with stress.

Batterers in general have a higher incident of drug and alcohol abuse than non-batterers. This doesn't mean that drugs or alcohol CAUSE the abuse, rather it lowers inhibitions making an already frustrated and violence-prone person more likely to fall back on violence as a crutch, especially when confronted with their lack of communication skills and any feelings of inadequacy.

Blame others for their actions.

Commonly, batterers use the actions of others as excuses for their own behavior. They blame the person who made them angry, as if that person were pushing some magic button that released violent behavior. How often have victims heard "why did you make me do that"? If your partner is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing them wrong or is out to get them. They may make mistakes and then blame you for upsetting them so that they can't concentrate on their work. They may tell you that YOU are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong. Abusive people will might say, "you made me mad" and "I can't help being angry". Although they actually make the decision about how they think or feel, they will use feelings to manipulate you. Abusers see themselves as the "victim" in the relationship, and do not take responsibility for their own feelings or behaviors.

Are prone to hypersensativity

Abusers are easily insulted, and may take the slightest setback as a personal attack. They will rant and rave about the injustice of things that are really just a part of living, such as having to get up for work, getting a traffic ticket, or being asked to help with chores.

Present dual personalities.

Often the most frustrating thing for the victim, many batterers are excellent actors. They may appear to function well at work, with friends and family, etc. Sometimes only the battered spouse is aware of the true "nature of the beast". This often makes it difficult for a victim to reach out for support from friends and family, because those persons may try to talk the victim out of thinking that their spouse is a batterer. Often a victims friends and family will go on and on about "what a great guy you've got there" - because the batterer has successfully hidden their violence at home. It's even MORE frustrating for the victim when members of their support system try to turn the tables and say things like "well, just don't make him mad". They're putting the blame on the VICTIM and not on the offender where it belongs! When this happens, the violent partner gets backup from the very people the victim NEEDS for support and they too fall into the trap of myths about the nature and causes of family violence!

Exhibit cruelty to animals or children

This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain. They may expect children to be capable of things beyond their ability. They may tease children and younger brothers and sisters until they cry. They may be very critical of other people's children or any children you bring into the relationship. Your partner may threaten to prevent you from seeing children you have no biological rights to, or punish children to get even with you. About 60% of people who beat their partner also beat their children. Of course the OPPOSITE of this can be true also. Abused women often say that they stay "for the sake of the kids, because he's a great father to them." Unfortunately, one parent abusing another is one of the greatest risk factors for child abuse, as well as for children to sink into depression, anxiety disorders and other mental and physical illnesses. Abuse also models the role of violence to the children as THEY grow up and into relationships of their own.