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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
  • Stress
  • 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. (

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.
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