Recovery For Abused Women

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Domestic Violence Series for June 21, 2012 "Why Do Abusers Batter?" (Part 2A)

Domestic Violence Series (Part 2)

Explanation of Domestic Violence and Abuse Continued:

V. Why Do Abusers Batter? – (Part 2A)

Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and coercive conduct that serves to deprive victims of safety and autonomy. Perpetrators believe they are entitled to power and control over their partners and perceive all interactions within relationships through a prism of compliance or disobedience. Perpetrators use abusive tactics to reinforce their rules and maintain absolute control over their victims.

Perpetrators come from all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, areas of the world, educational levels and occupations.

They often appear charming and attentive to outsiders, and even to their partners, at first. Many perpetrators are very good at disguising their abusive behavior to appear socially acceptable. Once they develop a relationship with a partner however, they become more and more abusive.

A. Characteristics

Domestic violence perpetrators:

  • Seek control of the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of their partner.
  • Restrict all of the victim's rights and freedoms
  • Punish their partner for breaking their rules or challenging the perpetrator's authority

Men who batter:

  • Minimize the seriousness of their violence
  • Believe they are entitled control their partner
  • Use anger, alcohol/drug use, and stress as excuses for their abusive behaviors
  • Blame the victim for the violence

A batterer covers up his violence by denying, minimizing, and blaming the victim. He often convinces his partner that the abuse is less serious than it is, or that it is her fault. He may tell her that "if only" she had acted differently, he wouldn't have abused her. Sometimes he will say, "You made me do it."

Victims of abuse do not cause violence. The batterer is responsible for every act of abuse committed.

Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It is learned through:

  • Observation.
  • Experience.
  • Culture.
  • Family.
  • Community (peer group, school, etc.). 

Abuse is not caused by:

  • Mental illness.
    • Personality disorders, mental illness, and other problems may compound domestic violence, but the abusive behavior must be addressed separately.
  • Genetics.
    • Alcohol and drugs. Many men blame their violence on the effects of drug and alcohol use. Alcohol abuse is present in about 50 percent of battering relationships. Research shows that alcohol and other drug abuse is commonly a symptom of an abusive personality, not the cause. Men often blame their intoxication for the abuse, or use it as an excuse to use violence. Regardless, it is an excuse, not a cause. Taking away the alcohol, does not stop the abuse. Substance abuse must be treated before or in conjunction with domestic violence treatment programs.
  • Out-of-control behavior.
  • Anger.
  • Stress.
  • Behavior of the victim.
  • Problems in the relationship.

A batterer abuses because he wants to, and thinks he has a "right" to his behavior. He may think he is superior to his partner and is entitled to use whatever means necessary to control her.

Some ways batterers deny and minimize their violence:

  • "I hit the wall, not her head."
  • "She bruises easily."
  • "She just fell down the steps."
  • "Her face got in the way of my fist."

Characteristics of a Potential Batterer:

  • Jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Quick involvement
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Isolation of victim
  • Blames others for his problems
  • Blames others for his feelings
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Cruelty to animals or children
  • "Playful" use of force during sex
  • Verbal abuse
  • Rigid sex roles
  • Jekyll and Hyde type personality
  • History of past battering
  • Threats of violence
  • Breaking or striking objects
  • Any force during an argument
  • Objectification of women
  • Tight control over finances
  • Minimization of the violence
  • Manipulation through guilt
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Expects her to follow his orders
  • Frightening rage
  • Use of physical force
  • Closed mindedness
  • Manipulation

Click Here to Open PDF Version

Next section posted will be “Domestic Violence Series (Part 2) – “Explanation of Domestic Violence and Abuse” – “Why Do Abusers Batter – Characteristics – Abusers often try to manipulate the “system” by:”(Part 2B) on Tuesday, June 26th.



Dr. Dorothy E. Hooks

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