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IF YOU ARE ABUSING YOUR PARTNER 

Take responsibility for your actions and recognize that you are committing a crime.

Stop blaming your partner or other factors, such as job stress, alcohol, or life problems.  Your partner is not responsible for your problems, not does she/he make you act violently. 

Stop rationalizing that your abusive treatment of others is acceptable.  Abuse is never healthy or acceptable. 

Get professional help immediately to deal with your power and control issues before you find yourself sitting in a jail cell.  Find out where the nearest Batterers' Treatment Program is and call them.

 

 Why Do Batterers Choose to Use Violence?

There is no justification for battering.   Batterers choose to use violence because it works, and because there are often no consequences for the batterer for using violence against family members.  Through pushing, hitting, kicking – or even just intimidating looks or words that threaten – the batterer controls his partner and feels powerful. 

 

Characteristics of Batterers

·   Low self-esteem: Although it may appear otherwise (cocky behavior, bravado), many batterers have a low self-image, lack self-confidence and, as a result, often have insatiable ego needs.  They will make unreasonable demands for attention and gratification.      

·   Inability to communicate feelings: Society often trains men to be afraid of sharing or expressing feelings.  Phrases such as, “Boys don’t cry.”  “Be a man!” and “Brush it off!” are used to tell boys that they are not masculine if they express emotions such as sadness, hurt, etc.  They do, however, receive societal encouragement for expressing anger and aggression.

·   Emotional dependency: A man who batters is often emotionally dependent on the woman he is abusing.  He feels she is responsible for taking care of all his emotional needs and therefore has unrealistic expectations for the relationship.  The abuser expects his partner to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, and friend.  Abusers will say things like “if you love me, I’m all you need—you’re all I need.”  She is supposed to take care of everything for the abuser, emotionally and in the home.  No matter how efficient/good she is, however, she is never good enough.

·   Jealousy:  Abusers convince themselves and their partners that jealousy is a sign of love.  Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it’s a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust.  The abuser will question his partner about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of the time she spends with family, friends, and/or children.  As the “jealous” behavior progresses, the abuser may accuse her of having affairs, call her frequently, or unexpectedly drop by her home/workplace.  The abuser may refuse to let her work saying he’s “afraid” she’ll meet someone else, or he may do strange things such as checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her.  This behavior isolates her from friends and family, the people who might support her decision to leave.

·   Controlling Behavior: At first, the batterer may say this behavior is because of concern for his partner’s safety and well being.  The abuser will be angry if she is “late” coming back from somewhere and will closely question her about where she went, to whom she spoke, etc.  As this behavior gets worse, the abuser may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing, or going to church.  He may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or the room.

·   Rigidly defined roles for men and women: Most batterers strongly believe that men should be aggressive, in charge, the king of the castle, and women should be passive and subservient.  A batterer will often treat his partner as a servant or a child, demanding that she wait on him, never allowing her to participate in any decision-making, refusing to let her work outside the home, etc.

·   Often witnessed abuse as a child: Many batterers grew up in violent homes and saw or heard their fathers hitting their mothers.  The boy who witnesses domestic violence learns that violence works – that you get your way when you use or threaten violence.  When that idea is added to the general acceptance of male violence in our society, using violence to control his partner comes fairly naturally and easily.  However, it is still a choice, and some men who witnessed violence in their homes as children do not choose violence in their intimate relationships.

·   Strong denial system: Men who batter rarely accept responsibility for the violence.  They place blame on the victim by saying she asked for it, etc.  They will deny harming the victim, often saying she fell or ran into something.  They will minimize the violence by saying things such as, “If I’d really wanted to hurt you, you’d be dead,” or “You just bruise too easily.”  They often deny any wrongdoing and see their behavior as discipline that is good for the family.

·   Cruelty to animals and/or children: Men who batter often brutally punish animals, are insensitive to their pain and suffering, and/or may kill them to punish their partners. Abusers also may unreasonably punish their children because they expect them to do things beyond their ability (i.e., spanks a two-year-old for wetting his diaper).  The abuser may not want children to eat at the table or will expect them to stay in their rooms, and out of his way, all evening when he’s at home.

·   Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:  Many women are confused by their abuser’s sudden mood changes---they may think the abuser has some mental problem because one minute he is very nice and the next minute he’s exploding.  Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who abuse their partners.  These behaviors are calculated, serve to intimidate and frighten the victim, and are reflections of the abuser’s alternate use of threat and manipulation to establish and maintain power and control.

Adapted from Signs of a Batterer Personality, Lydia Walker, “Getting a Firm Foundation”  1981