Virtually all the experts who have studied the dynamics of Domestic Violence and abuser personality agree that the goal of the abuser is power and control over his partner. Also, abusive men almost universally deny or minimize the abuse and blame the woman. There are many factors and forces operating at different levels between the abuser and his environment such as biological, cognitive, psychological, behavioral and cultural, those shape the man that batters.

Men who abuse women are highly dependent on their women partners for emotional support. Thus, the man who adopts a macho stoicism that erupts into violence may actually be among the most emotionally needy. Abusive men have a terrible fear of abandonment. They believe that security against abandonment can be gained by control. They become desperate when they feel they could lose their partner. The men who show dominating behavior in fact are vulnerable and dependent. The abusive man on one hand tries to take away the power from his partner but on the other hand gives her the power to give him happiness. When she ‘falls’, he becomes enraged. Some men become unreasonably jealous of other men who take their partner’s attention away from them. 

Abusers have trouble accepting responsibility for their behavior. They feel guilt and shame but they try to deny and minimize their behavior. They come from families that were cold and isolated but not necessarily all abusive. About half of them have some form of chemical dependency. Some have mental and personality disorder like lack of empathy, depression, hostility and feelings of victimization. Some abusers often grew up in homes marred by adult violence and invariably have low self-esteem and low self-image. Some men become inwardly calm when they are abusive and had witnessed extreme violence between their parents. Researchers found that men with less education and lower income are more likely to be abusers but have found that even the white collar workers beat up their partners.

Those who have studied and lived with the abusers have recognized a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ personality. Abusers seem to be two different people. Many are successful on the job, handsome, well liked, charming and kind in public. Usually, both sides are seen by outsiders. Abusers often work hard to hide their battering from the outside world. Friends of the couple who have not seen the ‘Mr.Hyde’ persona will not believe when the woman tells them that her husband beats her. She herself falls prey to his loving side, comes after the abuse along with apologies and promises that would never happen again.

There is a persistent myth that stress and alcoholism turn men into abusers. While it is true that stress and alcoholism contribute to lashing out but why do not turn a peaceful man into an abuser. Some experts believe that some abusers have a kind of ‘radar’ that enables them to spot those women they can control and abuse. A batterer has his own warped agenda, in which he places the full responsibility for his happiness or unhappiness on the woman in his life. He feels that by controlling ‘his’ woman and ‘training’ her to do what he wants, all his needs can be met. Obviously, a woman living with such a man is in a no-win situation. No matter how hard she tries, she can never make the world perfect for him. Yet he expects no less.

Ravi Sharma

(Excerpts taken from “The Domestic Violence Sourcebook” by Dawn Bradley Berry)