Signs to Look for in a Battering Personality

Many people are interested in ways that they can predict whether they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically abusive.  Below is a list of behaviors that are seen in abusive personalities; the last four signs are almost always seen in the person who is a batterer.  If the person has three or more of the other behaviors, there is a strong potential for physical violence.  The more signs they have, the more likely the person is a batterer.  In some cases, a batterer may have only a couple of behaviors that can be recognized, but they are very exaggerated (ie. extreme jealousy over ridiculous things).  Initially the abuser will try to explain their behavior as signs of love and concern, and you may be flattered at first, but as time goes on, the behaviors become more severe to dominate.

  1. Jealousy - An abuser will say this is a sign of love, jealousy has nothing to do with love, it's a sign of possessiveness.  They'll question who you talk to, accuse you of flirting, or be jealous of time you spend with family, friends, or children.  They may call frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly.  They'll check your car mileage or ask friends to watch you.

  2. Controlling Behavior - The abuser will say they're concerned for your safety, or your need to make good decisions.  They'll be angry if you're late coming back from the store, they will question where you went, and who you talked to.  They may not let you make personal decisions, may keep all the money or even make you ask permission to leave the house.

  3. Quick Involvement - The abuser may come on like a whirlwind claiming "love at first site", and they will tell you "you're the only person I could ever talk to", "I've never felt loved like this by anyone."  They will pressure you to commit to them.

  4. Unrealistic Expectations - The abuser is very dependent on the victim for their needs; they expect the perfect spouse or parent.  They often say things like, "If you love me, I'm all you need and you're all I need."

  5. Isolation - The abuser may try to cut off resources (ie. friends, family, car and money.)  Keeping the victim isolated keeps them dependent on the abuser.

  6. Blames Others for His or Her Problems - The abuser can't take responsibility for their own actions or mistakes.

  7. Blames Others for His or Her Feelings - The abuser will say things like, "You make me mad", "You're hurting me by not doing what I ask", "I can't help being angry."  The abuser will manipulate the victim by blaming them.

  8. Hypersensitivity - The abuser is easily insulted, claiming their feelings are hurt, when they're really mad, or taking set backs as personal attacks.  They will rant and rave about the injustice of things that happen to them (ie. being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket or being asked to help with chores.)

  9. Cruelty to Animals or Children - This person may punish animals brutally or be insensitives to their pain or suffering; they expect children to do things beyond their ability (ie. whips a two-year-old for wetting a diaper or may tease children until they cry.)  Sixty percent (60%) of abusers also abuse their own children.

  10. "Playful" Use of Force in Sex - The abuse wants to dominate when it comes to sex.  They may show little concern about whether you want to have sex and may use sulking or anger to manipulate you into compliance.  They may even start having sex with you while you are sleeping, or demand sex when you're ill or tired.

  11. Verbal Abuse - In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, the abuser may degrade you and run down your accomplishments.  They will tell you that you're stupid and unable to function without them.  This may involve waking you up to verbally abuse you or not letting you go to sleep.

  12. Rigid Sex Roles - The male abuser expects a woman to serve him, that she must stay at home, that she must obey him in all things - even things that are criminal in nature.  He will see women as inferior to men and unable to be a whole person without a man.

  13. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - The abuser can be very nice one moment and explode in anger the next.  This does not indicate some special "mental problem" or that they're "crazy".  Explosive anger and mood swings are typical of abusers and these behaviors are related to other characteristics such as hypersensitivity.

  14. *Past Battering - The abuser may admit to being abusive in the past, but will say the victim made them do it.  You may hear from relatives or ex-spouses that this person is abusive.  Situational circumstances do not make a person an abuser.

  15. *Threats of Violence - This would include any threat of physical force meant to control the victim.  "I'll slap your mouth off", "I'll kill you", "I'll break you neck."  A batterer will excuse this behavior by saying, "Everyone talks like that."

  16. *Breaking or Striking Objects - This behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize and intimidate the victim into submission.  Again, this is a very remarkable behavior; only very immature people beat on objects in the presence of others in order to threaten them.

  17. *Any Force During an Argument - This may involve an abuser holding the victim down, physically restraining them from leaving the room, pushing and shoving.
    If you recognize any of these signs in your relationship, please call for more information.



Atascosa Family Crisis Center, Inc.

A safe place for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
(830) 569-2001 or Toll Free (877) 569-2001

Last Update:
April 10, 2001

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