DVIP: Behavioral Characteristics of a Domestic Violence Batterer
March 7, 2011
Behavioral Characteristics of a Domestic Violence Batterer
Batterers are found in all socioeconomic, educational, ethnic, racial, and age groups.
- Use psychological, verbal, and physical abuse, including sexual abuse.
- Engage in excessive minimization and denial.
The batterer is characterized by:
- Poor impulse control, limited tolerance for frustration, explosive temper – rage. Constantly demonstrating but often successfully masking anger.
- Stress disorders and psychosomatic complaints; sophistication of symptoms and success at masking dysfunction vary with social and educational levels.
- Emotional dependency – subject to secret depressions known only to family.
- Limited capacity for delayed reinforcement – very “now” oriented.
- Insatiable ego needs and qualities of childlike narcissism (not generally detectable to people outside family group).
- Low self-esteem; perceives unachieved ideals and goals for self; disappointment in career, even if successful by others’ standards.
- Qualities which suggest great potential for change and improvement; i.e., makes frequent “promises” for the future.
- Perception of self as having poor social skills; describing relationship with mate as the closest he has ever known while remaining in contact with his family of origin.
- Accusations against mate, jealousy, voicing great fear of abandonment or “being cheated on,” possessive, controlling, hovering behavior.
- Fearfulness that partner and/or children will abandon; fear of being alone.
- Containment of mate and employment of espionage tactics against her (checking mileage/times, errands); cleverness depends on level of sophistication.
- Violating others’ personal boundaries; accepts no blame for failure (marital, familial, or occupational) or for violent acts.
- Belief that forcible behavior aimed at securing the family nucleus is for the good of the family.
- Absence of guilt on an emotional level even after intellectual recognition.
- Generational history of abuse.
- Frequently participating in pecking order battering.
- Assaultive skills which improve with age and experience (increase in danger potential and lethality risks to family members over time).
- Demanding and oftentimes assaultive role in sexual activities; sometimes punishes with abstinence; occasionally experiencing impotence.
- Increasingly assaultive behavior when the mate is pregnant – pregnancy often marks the first assault.
- Exerting control over mate by threatening homicide and/or suicide. Often attempts one or both when partners separate – known to complete either or both.
- Frequently using children as “pawns” and exerting power and control through custody issues; may kidnap children or hold them hostage.
Profile of MALE Abuser
Abusers may have some or all of the following characteristics:
- Excessively jealous
- Isolates victim (she may rarely go anywhere alone; visitors rarely allowed)
- Controls victim (makes all decisions; demands accounting of time & actions)
- Denies beatings or minimizes severity
- May be more violent when she is pregnant or soon after birth
- Blames victim for his abusive behavior
- Uses verbal abuse with physical abuse (insults, mind games, etc.)
- If victim leaves, he does whatever it takes to get her back (apologizes, sends flowers, cries, begs forgiveness, begs her to come home, promises to get counseling)
- When victim returns, promises are systematically broken
- Jekyll and Hyde personality
- From a dysfunctional family
- Low/No self-esteem (builds himself up at victim’s expense)
- Thinks he’s never wrong and never lies – knows everything and everyone
- Believes myths about abuse
- Strongly believes in traditional sex roles
- Feels persecuted – maybe mentally ill
- Treats victim like a servant/very demanding
- Must always have his way
- Reacts violently to criticism
- Preaches his own religion
- Is very creative, imaginative and artistic
- Is capable of fooling untrained authorities (doctors, lawyers, judges)
- Is in control of his abuse (can – and does – become suddenly civil if someone walks in on the abuse; will only injure to a certain point – that which will ensure compliance)
Profile of FEMALE Victim
Victims may have some or all of the following characteristics:
- Socially isolated – lonely
- Blames herself for the beatings
- Accepts responsibility for her abuser’s behavior
- Feels she has no power or control
- Feels ambivalent or confused
- Embarrassed to admit she is being abused or that she is in a violent, abusive relationship – denial
- Low/No Self-esteem
- Believes she cannot survive alone
- Is highly stressed – terrified – fighting to stay alive
- Exhibits stress-related physical ailments or problems
- Believes myths about abuse
- Denies her anger over the abuse – but explodes over minor irritations
- Exhibits depression
- Is fearful of many things, like making a mistake
- Believes in traditional sex roles
- Puts needs/feelings of others far above her own
- Mood is determined by abuser’s disposition
- Unable to make a decision without abuser’s approval
- Believes that nothing can ever help her
- Does what it takes to survive – lies, denies, defends abuser
- Endures additional abuse to protect children
- Prays silently