PSG is committed to a violence-free workplace and home life. We want people–especially women–to be aware of behaviors common to batterers. Women can be empowered with knowledge, so we hope this information helps someone notice the warning signs of potentially abusive relationships. Our hope is that this knowledge will help someone avoid a potential batterer, or these behaviors will be familiar to someone in a relationship and that person will seek help to get out of an abusive or potentially abusive situation.
LOW SELF ESTEEM – Batterers have low self-esteem even though they appear tough, strong, and confident. They become dependent on their partner if they are emotionally “needy”, and the thought of losing their partner feels like a threat resulting jealousy and controlling behaviors.
RUSH INTO RELATIONSHIPS – Many victims become engaged or live with their partner after dating for less than six months. Abusers “come on” like a whirlwind claiming “love at first sight”, and use flattery like “You are the only person I could ever talk to” or “I have never felt loved like this by anyone”. They may pressure their partner to commit to a relationship before they are truly ready because they may need someone desperately.
EXCESSIVE JEALOUSY – Many abusers claim that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love: it is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. Partners should trust one another in a healthy relationship. Not every twinge of jealousy is a sign of abuse in the future; however, when it becomes a negative aspect or a disruptive force in a relationship, RED FLAGS NEED TO BE GOING UP.
CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR – A batterer will use controlling behavior at the beginning of a relationship because they are concerned for your safety, a need for you to use time wisely or to make good decisions. If you are late returning from shopping or an appointment, abusers may become angry and want to know where you went, who you talked to, etc. As this behavior worsens, the abuser may not allow you make personal decisions about the house, your clothing, or even going to church. They may keep all the money or make you ask permission to leave the house. These behaviors mimic the parent/child relationship and are not part of an equal and healthy relationship.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OR DEMANDS – Many abusers expect their partner to meet ALL of their needs: perfect partner, lover, and friend. They expect their partner to take care of everything for them, emotionally, physically and sometimes, economically. In a healthy relationship, partners should encourage each other to pursue their dreams, to have friends and interests, and to take pride in their partner in these things.
ISOLATION – Frequently, the abuser attempts to cut the partner off from all resources, primarily friends and family, accusing them of causing trouble, and they may restrict use of the phone. Gradually, they isolate you from all your friends and may not let you use the car, or go to work or school. The abusers want to isolate their partner completely, taking away family, friends, and a support system, without a job, making them completely isolated and totally dependent on the abuser.
BELIEF IN MALE SUPREMACY – Batters want to appear to be the “man of the house”, holding rigid rules, leading them to feel the need to dominate, control and to be catered to at all times, including the bedroom. They see you as unintelligent, inferior, responsible for menial tasks, and less than whole. Many times, you are told that no one else would want you or that you are nothing without him or her. They use guilt to pressure you into servile behaviors.
USE OF FORCE DURING SEX – This should send the message that the abuser is just in it for themselves and/or they are enjoying the power of coercing sex, knowing that you are less than willing. Sex may be used to “make up” following an abusive event. This is an extension of POWER AND CONTROL.
POOR COMMUNICATION SKILLS – Abusers have difficulty expressing their feelings of anger or frustration, so they instead lash out with violence.
NEGATIVE BEHAVIORS – Batterers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but this does NOT mean that this is the CAUSE of the abuse. It lowers inhibitions, making a person prone to violence more likely to become violent because of their lack of communication skills and feelings of inadequacy.
BLAMING OTHERS FOR THEIR ACTIONS – Abusers blame others for their own behavior. They blame other persons who made them angry. Victims are told, “Why did you make me do that?” Chronically unemployed abusers say someone is doing them wrong or is out the get them. Abusers make the decision about how they think or feel and use this to manipulate the victim. They see themselves as the “victim” and do not take responsibility for their behavior.
HYPERSENSITIVITY – Abusers may take the slightest setback as a personal attack. They are easily insulted, ranting and raving about having to go to work, getting a traffic ticket, or being asked to help with chores.
DUAL PERSONALITY – Abusers are excellent actors. Functioning well at work, with friends and family, often only the victim is aware of the abuse, making it difficult to reach out for support from friends and family. They may try to talk the victim out of thinking that their partner is abusive. Often, the blame is placed on the victim and not the abuser. The violent partner gets backing from the very people the victim NEEDS for support.
CRUELTY TO CHILDREN AND ANIMALS – Examples:
• Expectations of children beyond their capabilities
• Teasing children until they cry
• Critical of other people’s children, especially those from a previous relationship
• Punish children to get even with you
• 60% of abusers who beat their partner also beat their children
• Punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain
Oftentimes, abused women state that they remain “for the sake of the children”. Sadly, a violent relationship is one of the greatest risk factors for child abuse. Children in abusive homes exhibit depression, anxiety disorder, other mental and physical illnesses, and criminal, even violent behaviors of their own. They often model the role of violence as they grow up and enter into relationships of their own.
– Taken from the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department in Hamburg, Arkansas