Abusers batter others as a means of power and control: to manipulate, intimidate and rule their intimate partners.
They often appear charming and attentive to outsiders and, at first, even to their partners. Many batterers 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.
Characteristics of Abusers
- They seek to control the thoughts, beliefs and behavior of a partner and punish the partner if they resist
- They are impulsive
- They minimize the severity of the violence
- They have little trust in others
- They feel a need to always be in control
- They deny and minimize their behavior and insist that it is the victim’s fault: their partners should have had dinner ready, kept the children quiet, etc. But, abusers are always responsible for their own behavior.
The Cause of Abusive Behavior
Abusive behavior is learned. It is learned through observation of others in one’s environment: one’s family, culture, or community. Perhaps the abuser regularly saw a dominant figure in their family rule with verbal, emotional or physical abuse. They think such behavior is the correct thing to do.
Abuse is not caused by substance abuse or mental illness, although these factors may make the abuse more severe and complicate the problem.
All battering is dangerous; one push or shove can result in death. Battering increases in frequency and severity over time. Certain behaviors, actions and words by an abuser, however, indicate particular danger for you. If you see any of these in your abuser, you should know that your relationship can become deadly.
If any of the following applies to your abuser, you are in danger!
- The batterer threatens suicide or homicide. If your abuser says they will kill themself, understand that this likely means they will kill you as well.
- The batterer fantasizes about homicide or suicide. If they see this as a "solution" to their problems, they may attempt it. Be extremely concerned if your abuser threatens to kill themself.
- The batterer possesses weapons. If your abuser owns weapons and has used them or threatened to use them, there is a potential for lethal assault. The use of guns is a strong predictor of homicide.
- If your abuser believes you "belong to them" or professes “death before divorce,” they are more likely to be life endangering.
- If your abuser “idolizes” you or depends heavily on you to sustain them and has isolated themself from others, it is likely they will retaliate against you if you decide to end the relationship.
- Separation violence: If your abuser believes you will leave them and they can't imagine life without you, they may try to kill you. Many homicides occur when a person is leaving their abusive partner. Please understand how dangerous this time is. Many people are seriously injured when they leave or try to leave an abusive relationship.
- Escalating danger: When your batterer begins to act more and more as if they have no regard for the consequences of their actions – legal or otherwise – you are at increased risk of danger.
– “Lethality Risk Factors” by Barbara Kidd,National Domestic Violence Prevention Trainer
Additional Risk Factors
- Previous relationship battery
- Substance abuse