Common Traits of Batterers
Abused women are victims; they are NOT responsible for provoking – or correcting the behavior of their abusers.
Batterers are likely to be someone a woman knows and loves. Initially, the batterer may seem charming, attentive, and seductive. They are usually not crazy, but are people whose behavior is learned and socially reinforced. They look like average people and are not usually violent in the early stages of relationships.
Excessive Jealousy – Has jealous reactions to many things in your life, including casual, minor contacts with such people as store clerks or neighbors. Often very jealous of friends, family, children, and pets.
Verbal Abusiveness – Uses putdowns such as “You’re stupid” or “You’re not a good mother” to destroy your self-esteem. The abusive language may escalate into rage or physical attacks.
Controlling Behavior – Demands rigid accounts of your every move, and will often make follow-up calls to confirm your whereabouts. A batterer is unwilling to distinguish between caring and controlling behavior.
Attempts to Isolate You – Tries to destroy your relationships with your family and friends so that you can be broken and “molded” into an ideal victim. Isolation keeps you from getting reality checks or support from others beside the batterer.
Unwillingness to Control Anger – Has frequent violent outbursts such as ramming fists through walls; often gets into brawls, often with little warning. A batterer often throws things, kicks things, and goes into verbal rages.
Use of Violence – Uses force or intimidation to “win” arguments; destroys physical objects; may have a history of cruelty to children as well as animals; may use force during sex.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse – Abuses substances, particularly alcohol, but not all batterers are addicts or alcoholics. Drugs and alcohol may make a batterer more violent – but they do not explain the violence. Batterers continue to batter even after they quit using drugs and alcohol.
Rigid Gender Roles – Believes that women are possessions and that they should cater to and unquestioningly obey men. Often has uncompromising ideas about what women’s and men’s roles, rights, and “duties” are.
Former Victim Of or Witness To Domestic Violence – Of batterers who are currently battering, 73% grew up in an abusive household or witnessed domestic violence as a child. This does not excuse his behavior. It gives him the responsibility to learn to do something different from what he learned.
Lack of Sensitivity – Unwilling to appreciate other people’s feelings. Batterers believe that people who think or feel differently than themselves are wrong. It is the batterer’s way – or no way!
Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem – Has overwhelming feelings of inadequacy regarding several areas of his/her life. Batterers work hard to hide their feelings. As such, they often appear confident, charming, and in control.
Denial of Responsibility – Blames violent episodes on the victims. Common statements include, “She made me do it,” and “If you hadn’t done —–, I wouldn’t have had to be violent.” Batterers believe they should not have to face consequences for their behavior. They think there are acceptable excuses for the violence and give themselves permission to batter.
Lack of Communication – Refuses to take responsibility to share honest feelings and thoughts. Does not talk through conflicts to an equally negotiated resolution.
Lack of Intimacy – Typically thinks that sex = intimacy. Often does not show affection without sex. Batterers usually do not communicate about what would be equally pleasurable during sex.
Dependency – Wants to be taken care of without asking for it directly or sharing. Batterers think it is others’ responsibility to make sure their needs are met and they are the victim if someone is not taking care of them.
Self-Centered – Believe that the only things that are important are the things that pertain to them. They think everything should happen the way they want and they have the right to push as hard as necessary to get things their way. Batterers do not respect boundaries or other people’s opinions, thoughts, or feelings. They act as if they are the “Center of the Universe.”
Effects on Children Who Witness Domestic Violence
The experience of witnessing domestic violence can have serious and long lasting effects on children, regardless of whether the children have been directly abused by a parent. The following is a summary of some of the effects that can result when a child witnesses violence between her/his parents.
Children will sometimes attempt to intervene, putting them at risk for physical harm. In one study, 63% of boys, ages 11-20, who committed homicide, murdered the man who was abusing their mother (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). Children often feel guilty that they were not able to prevent the violence and sometimes feel they were somehow to blame for the violence.
Depression, impaired trust, and low self-esteem are common in children who witness domestic violence.
Witnessing violence in the home often leads to behavior problems in children; typically children will develop aggressive or submissive behaviors. Children may identify with the role of the victim or the abuser.
Effects may include emotional problems in children such as anxiety disorders, phobias, learning problems, delayed social development and developmental delays.
Because of the emotional and behavioral effects of domestic violence, children may also develop academic or behavioral problems at school, drug or alcohol abuse, or delinquent behavior.
Research points to a strong tendency for the cycle of violence to continue to the next generation. Children from violent homes are at higher risk of getting involved in violent relationships as teens or adults. One researcher found, for example, that men who had witnessed domestic violence were three times as likely to abuse their own spouses. Sons of the most violent families have a rate of spouse abuse one thousand times greater than sons from nonviolent homes (Straus, 1980).
The Children’s Program at Artemis provides counseling, support groups, and advocacy for children and teens from violent homes.
For more information, call Artemis Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence
(937) 461-HELP (4357)
Artemis is a United Way Agency
Under 2 years
- Respond to loud stimuli with increased fear (crying)
- Developmental delays (slower to walk, crawl, talk, etc.)
2 – 5 years
- Regressive behavior (lose toileting skills, baby talk, more clingy, revert to use of bottle)
- Somatic problems
- Hyper vigilance
- Repetitive play, acting out domestic violence
- Increased sibling violence
- Cruelty to animals
- Developmental delays (slower to learn ABC’s, read, etc.)
- Decreased playfulness and spontaneity
- Feel responsible for violence (believe if they behaved better, it would not occur)
- Increased dependency on primary caretaker
6 – 12 years
- Increased problems at school (misbehavior, grades drop)
- Increased acting out, getting into trouble (may see lying, stealing, truancy, setting fires)
- Often viewed by others as having attentional problems or learning disabilities
- May withdraw and become reclusive rather than acting out
- May take on role of “family hero” or caretaker
- Increases anger directed at victim of violence (it is unsafe to direct anger at the perpetrator) batterer leaves anger escalates
- Develop inflated sense of responsibility
- Learn to disrespect the victim of violence because perpetrator models that behavior
- Confuse love and violence (learn that people hit those they love)
- Develop emotional problem such as depression
12 – 18 years
- Aggressive behavior (violence to control others and solve problems)
- Severe behavior and emotional problems (running away, theft, depression, anxiety)
- Develop rigid sex roles – usually stereotypical
- Increased incidence of dating violence
- Self-destructive behavior (eating disorders, drug and alcohol)
- Increase risk for early marriages and/or teen pregnancy (often as an escape from parents)
- Increase risk for suicide and homicide
- Develop poor boundary systems (either too rigid or too weak)
- Develop distrust for most authority figures (or all adults)