Signs to Look for in a Battering Personality—Expanded

Many women are interested in knowing how they can predict whether or not they are becoming involved with an abuser. There is not a “typical victim” or “perpetrator”. Any women can be battered, regardless of age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, educational background, or socioeconomic level. In the beginning the batterer trys to justify these actions as love and concern. However, as time goes on these behaviors become more severe and serve to establish, keep, and strengthen power and control over the victim.

(In the following the word “he” is used only to name the role of the abuser, not meant to discount the various situations in which domestic violence occurs).

1. JEALOUSY. At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser may say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. The abuser may question his partner about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends, or children. As the jealousy progresses, he may call or text her frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let her work for fear she’ll meet someone else, or even engage in behaviors such as checking her car mileage, text messages or asking friends to watch her.

2. CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR. At first the batterer will say this behavior is due to his concern for her safety, her need to use her time well, or her need to make good decisions. He will become easily angered and question her closely about where she went and who she talked with. As this behavior progresses, he may not let the woman make personal decisions about anything, such as the  house, her clothing, or even going to church. He may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or room.

3. QUICK INVOLVEMENT. Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were married, engaged, or living together. He comes on strong like a whirlwind, and says things like, “you’re the only person I could ever talk to”, or “I’ve never been loved like this by anyone” trying to charm his way in. He will pressure the woman to commit to the relationship in such a way that later the woman may feel very guilty or that she’s “letting him down” if she wants to slow down involvement or break off the relationship.

4. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their
needs. He expects a perfect wife, mother, lover, friend. He will say things such as “if you love me, I’m all you need, and you’re all I need.” His partner is expected to take care of everything for him emotionally and in the home.

5. ISOLATION. The abusive person tries to cut his partner off from all resources. If she has male friends, she’s a “whore.” If she has women friends, she’s a lesbian. If she’s close to family, she’s “tied to the apron strings.” He accuses people who are the woman’s supports of “causing trouble.” He may want to live in the country and refuse to have items used to communicate to others. Using the car, working or going to school might become a problem.

6. BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS. He blames others for not having a job, and that someone is out to get him. He may make mistakes and then blame the women for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating on the task at hand. He may tell the woman that she is to blame for everything gone wrong in his life.

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7. BLAMES OTHERS FOR FEELINGS. Some things you might hear him say are, “you make me mad,” “you’re hurting me by not doing what I want you to do,” or “I can’t help being angry.” He is the one who makes the decision about what he thinks or feels, but he will use these feelings to manipulate his partner. Harder to catch are claims, “you make me happy,” or “you control how I feel.”

8. HYPERSENSITIVITY. An abuser is easily insulted, claiming his feelings are “hurt,” when in actuality he is angry or taking the slightest setback as a personal attack. He will “rant and rave” about the injustice of things that have happened, things that are just a part of living (for example, being asked to work late, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to help with chores, or being told some behavior is annoying).

9. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN. Abusers may punish animals brutally or be
insensitive to their pain or suffering. An abuser may expect children to be capable of things beyond their abilities (punishes a 2-year old for wetting a diaper). He may tease children. He may not want children to eat at the table or may expect them to be kept in their rooms when he is home. Studies indicate that about 60% of men who physically abuse their partners also abuse their children.

10. “PLAYFUL” USE OF FORCE IN SEX. An abuser may enjoy throwing the woman down or
holding her down during sex. He may want to act out fantasies during sex where the woman is helpless. This is a sign that the idea of rape is exciting. He may show little concern about whether the woman wants to have sex and uses sulking or anger to manipulate her into compliance. He may begin having sex with the woman while she is sleeping or demand sex when she is ill or tired.

11. VERBAL ABUSE. In addition to saying things that are intentionally meant to be cruel and
hurtful, verbal abuse is also apparent in the abuser’s degrading of his partner, cursing her, and belittling her accomplishments.

12. RIGID SEX ROLES. The abuser sees women as inferior to men, responsible for menial tasks, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship. He expects to be served, and might want the woman to perform criminal acts.

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13. DR. JEKYL/MR. HYDE PERSONALITY: A sudden change in mood is common. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of men who beat their partners. These behaviors are related to other characteristics, such as hypersensitivity.

*** The following signs are found in those who are indeed batterers

14. PAST BATTERING. The abuser may say he has hit women in the past, but blame them for the abuse. The women may hear from relatives or ex-partners that he is abusive. A batterer will abuse any woman he is with if the relationship lasts long enough for the violence to begin~ situational circumstances do not make one’s personality abusive.

15. THREATS OF VIOLENCE. This includes any threat of physical force meant to control the
partner: “I’ll slap your mouth off.” Most people do not threaten their partners. Abusers will try to excuse their threats by saying “everybody talks like that.”

16. BREAKING OR STRIKING OBJECTS: This behavior is used as punishment (breaking loved possessions,) but is used mostly to terrorize his partner into submission. The abuser may beat on tables or throw objects. This is a very remarkable behavior because it is a sign of extreme emotional immaturity, but it is also a great danger when someone thinks they have the “right” to punish or frighten their partner.

17. ANY FORCE DURING AN ARGUMENT: This may include holding your partner down, physically restraining her/him from leaving, pushing or shoving them around.

REMEMBER, he/ she always has a choice to be abusive or not! Metropolitan Center for Women and Children is here to help.

Just call the 24-hour hotline at 504-837-5400 or
 the toll free number at 888-411-1333.

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