Power and Control
Characteristics of a Batterer
Psychologists, social scientists and others have developed a number of theories to explain why some men use violence against women while others do not. These theories include:
- Growing up in dysfunctional families
- Inadequate communication and problem-solving skills
- Provocation by women
- Chemical dependency
- Economic hardship and pressures
The National Council Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) asserts that while these issues may be associated with battering, they are not the cause of the behavior. As a result, removing these stressors from the batterer’s life will not cease the violence. NCADV reports that:
The batterer begins and continues his behavior because violence is an effective method for gaining and keeping control over another person and he usually does not suffer consequences as a result of his behavior. (ncadv.org)
There is no typical, readily recognized profile of the domestic violence perpetrator or abuser. Those who batter come from every race, background, socio-economic status, age, and profession in society. However, NCADV has developed some general characteristics of a batterer:
- A batterer objectifies women. He does not see women as people. He does not respect women
as a group. Overall, he sees women as property or sexual objects.
- A batterer has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He may
appear successful but inside he feels inadequate.
- A batterer externalizes the causes of his behavior. He blames his violence on circumstances
such as stress, his partner’s behavior, a “bad day”, alcohol or other factors.
- A batterer may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence, and is often seen
as a “nice guy” to outsiders.
- Some behavioral warning signs of a potential batterer include extreme jealousy, possessiveness, a bad temper, unpredictability, cruelty to animals and verbal abusiveness.