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PROFILE OF A BATTERER

Updated on September 6, 2008

Relational factors associated with a higher incidence of intimate partner violence include:

  1. Quick Involvement: Many battered people dated or knew their abuser less than six months before they were engaged or living together.
  2. Jealousy: Frequent questioning of partner on where they've been, who they've talked to, etc. Frequently dropping by (or driving by) unexpectedly to check on partner’s activities.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations: Expecting their partner to be the perfect person and telling them "You're all I need, I'm all you need."
  4. Isolation: Partner has no car, no friends, no access to money.
  5. Blaming Others: Taking the ordinary setbacks of life as personal insults or attacks.
  6. "Playful" Use of Force in Sex
  7. Rigid Sex Roles: Expecting partner to “obey”.
  8. Past Battering Behavior:Usually with the excuse that partner “caused” the abuse in some way.
  9. Verbal Threats of Violence: Saying such things as "I'll break your neck" as a means of controlling partner’s behavior.

Research has identified certain personal, social and relationship-related risk factors that may serve as predictors of male to female intimate partner violence.

Personal characteristics frequently identified in male perpetrators of intimate partner violence:

  1. Traditional sex role expectations: Batterers tend to be preoccupied with a macho ideal of manhood. They feel a need to dominate and control women and often expect it as their right and privilege. They tend to associate feminine qualities with weakness and fear intimacy as making them vulnerable.
  2. Communication deficits: Batterers are frequently characterized as lacking in assertive communication skills and appearing alternatively passive or aggressive in nature. They are more inclined to resolve problems and emotions through violence, as the male sex role stereotype would suggest. This tendency tends to add to the stress many batterers create for themselves and their families.
  3. Poor impulse control: Batterers have higher levels of hostility than non-batterers. Their range of emotions tend to be reduced to anger, which in-turn is expressed primarily through violent behavior sanctioned by various male subcultures. Emotional tensions are typically suppressed until they finally "explode."
  4. Low self-esteem: Despite the bravado that many batterers display, they characteristically suffer from lower self-esteem than non-batterers. They often feel that they have not lived up to the male sex role stereotype and consequently overcompensate with hyper-masculinity.
  5. Emotional Dependency: They become emotionally dependent on their partners and consequently become threatened by the possibility of their departure. This is often evident in excessive jealousy and possessiveness.
  6. Alcohol and/or drug problems: Batterers have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. The alcohol acts as a “disinhibitor”, intensifying abusive incidents, but it does not "cause" the abuse. Many batterers are abusive with or without alcohol and continue their violence even after "drying out." Some experts consider alcohol and drug abuse to act as a sedative for the emotional distress most batterers bear in response to their abusive childhood, sense of inadequacy, and poor communication skills.
  7. Denial: Very much like the alcoholic, abusers deny there is a problem, and refuses to accept responsibility for the abusive behavior. Blames everyone else for making him angry thereby excusing his actions.
  8. Abusive childhood: The majority of male batterers have experienced or witnessed childhood violence that has left them with low self-esteem, inadequate coping skills, and other serious trauma-related personal and social deficits.

Community, cultural and social factors that increase the likelihood that male to female partner violence will occur:

  1. Poverty and associated factors (e.g., overcrowding)
  2. Low “social capital”—lack of institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a community’s social interactions
  3. Weak community sanctions against intimate partner violence (e.g., unwillingness of neighbors to intervene in situations where they witness violence)

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