Who is a Wife Abuser
Predictive Characteristics and Risk Markers
Can a woman expect to see certain signs of potential violence in a man she is dating or living with before she becomes a victim of abuse? The National Coalition against Domestic Violence published a checklist of predictive behaviour s in men that signal violence. Along with the predictors described in the checklist, there are other indicators, known as risk markers, which may indicate an increased propensity for violence. These include:
- an unemployed male
- a male who uses illegal drugs
- males and females with different religious backgrounds
- a male who saw his father hit his mother
- male and female unmarried cohabitants
- males with blue-collar occupations
- males who did not graduate from high school
- males between eighteen and thirty years of age
- males or females who use severe violence toward children in the home
- total family income below the poverty level
28 Signs of Abusers
Below are lists of behaviour s that are seen in people who are abusive. The last five signs listed are almost always seen only if the person is a batterer, if the person has several of the other behaviour s (say three or more), there is a strong potential for physical violence. The more signs the person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. In some cases, a batterer may have only a couple of behaviour s that the woman can recognize, but they are very exaggerated (eg extreme jealousy over ridiculous things). Initially, the batterer will try to explain his/her behaviour as signs of love and concern, and a woman may be flattered at first. As time goes on, the behaviour s become more severe and serve to dominate the woman. These signs may also be present in women’s lesbian relationships.
- Unemployed or Underemployment. Underemployment is not necessarily an objective phenomenon; it may be the subjective response to the man’s failing to meet his own expectations. Educational and occupational attainment frequently is less than wife’s, such status discrepancies are painful even should the husband bring home a higher salary.
- Emotional Dependency. Emotional dependency on the spouse is usually not recognized or understood, but is expressed through demands for constant reassurance and gratification. This may explain in part why spouse abuse often begins during wife’s pregnancy.
- High Investment in Marriage. Wants to preserve marriage at any cost and will go to great lengths to do so. In the event of separation or divorce, tends to immediately replace lost spouse with a new partner.
- Boundaries. Violates your personal space. Intimidates you by getting too close. Touches, pinches, grabs you against your will.
- Quick Involvement. Sweeps you off your feet. Love at first sight. “You’re the only one for me.” Desperately pressures you for a commitment so you’re engaged or living together in less than 6 months.
- Controlling Behaviour. Controls where you go, what you do, with whom and for how long. Controls money and money decisions, won’t allow you to share expenses or refuses to work and won’t share expenses. Protective to the point of controlling. Says he’s angry when you’re “late” because he “cares.” Takes your car keys, won’t let you go to church, work, or school.
- Jealousy. Angry about your relationship with other men, women, even children and family. This insecurity and possessiveness causes him to accuse you of flirting or having affairs, to call frequently or drop by to check up on you, even check your car mileage or have you followed.
- Abusive Family of Origin. Was physically, sexually or emotionally abused as a child or witnessed spouse abuse. He sees violence as normal behaviour, a natural part of family life.
- Low Self-Esteem. Guards his fragile sense of self by acting tough and macho. Imagines you threaten his manhood. Damages your self-esteem, demeans you growth, and demands your silence.
- Alcohol/Drug Abuse. Abuses alcohol/drugs, tries to get you drunk, and berates you if you won’t get high. He may deny his drug problem and refuse to get help. Don’t think you can change him or that alcohol/drug abuse causes violent behaviour. They are two separate problems.
- Difficulty Expressing Emotions. Unable to identify feelings and express them directly and appropriately. He may say he’s “hurt” and sulk when he’s really angry. He displaces anger at his boss or himself onto you.
- Blames Others for His Feelings or Problems. Believes others are out to get him and he’s the victim. Blames you for everything that goes wrong. Will say “You make me mad,” “You make me happy,” “I can’t help getting angry” to manipulate you. Holds you responsible for his suicidal or self-abusive behaviour.
- Hypersensitivity. Quick temper, unable to handle frustration without getting angry, easily insulted. Will “rant and rave” about minor things like traffic tickets or request to do chores.
- Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Seems like two different people with mood swings from nice to explosive. May change his behaviour around the guys. May be very sociable around others and only abusive with you.
- Unrealistic Expectations. Very dependent on you for all his physical and emotional needs (“You’re all I need”). Expects you to live up to his ideals of a perfect partner, mother, lover, friend.
- Rigid Gender Roles. Expects a woman to stay at home, serve and obey him. Gets angry if you don’t fulfill his wishes and anticipate his needs. Speaks for you. He thinks it’s OK for men to keep women “in line” by force or intimidation.
- Rigid Religious Beliefs. Justifies rigid sex roles and the physical/emotional/sexual domination of women and children with strict or distorted interpretations of scripture.
- Disrespect for Women in General. Ridicules and insults women, sees women as stupid and inferior to men, tells sexist jokes (“dumb blond”, “PMS” jokes). Refers to women in derogatory or non-human terms (“babe”, “chick”, “fox”, “bitch”) or as specific parts of anatomy, de-values women’s accomplishments and work, acts like women are second-class citizens.
- Emotional Abuse. He may ignore your feelings, continually criticize you and call you names like “fat, ugly, stupid” curse and yell at you, belittle your accomplishments, manipulate you with lies, contradictions, and crazy-making tactics, humiliate you in private or public, regularly threaten to leave or tell you to leave, keep you awake or wake you up to argue or verbally abuse you.
- Isolation. An acquaintance rapist will try to separate you from others to a secluded spot. Batterers will try to keep you from working or attending school, move you to a rural area, restrict your use of the phone or car. He’ll try to cut you off from men, women, family and children by saying “You’re a whore,” “You’re a lesbian,” “You’re tied to your parent’s apron strings,” or “You’re spoiling the kids.”
- Reliance on Pornography. Rapists, child molesters and men who sexually abuse or rape their wives often have an abundance of pornographic literature, photographs, magazines, or videos. They may want to involve you in their interest by photographing you or taking you to pornographic movies or shops.
- Sexual Abuse. Refuses platonic relationship if dating, uses “playful” force in sex, uses sulking or anger to manipulate you into having sex, coerces or forces you to have sex or hurts you during sex, demands sex when you’re scared, ill, tired or starts to have sex when you’re asleep, drunk, or unable to give consent.
- Cruelty to Animals, Children, or Others. Teases, bullies, abuses or harshly punishes animals, children, elderly, weaker people or other women. Is insensitive to other’s pan. Tortures or kills pets to feel powerful or hurt you. Threatens to kidnap the children if you leave. Punishes or deprives the children when angry at you. Punishes the children for behaviour they’re incapable of (whipping a 2 year-old for wet diapers).
- Past Violence. Any history of violence to “solve” problems. Justifies hitting or abusing women in the past, but “they made me do it.” Friends, relatives or ex-partners say he’s abusive (Batterers beat any woman they’re with. You didn’t cause it and you can’t control it or cure it).
- Fascination with Weapons. Plays with guns, knives, or other lethal weapons, threatening to “get even” with you or others.
- Threats of Violence. Any threats of physical force to control you or make you do something should be taken seriously. He may threaten to hurt you or your family. Non-batterers do not say things like “I’ll kill you” or “I’ll break your neck.”
- Breaking or Striking Objects. Punishes you by breaking loved objects, terrorizes you into submission (If he doesn’t want you to be a student, he may destroy school books or break lamps). Non-batterers do not beat on tables, punch holes in walls, destroy furniture, throw objects at you to threaten you. The message is “You’re next! You’re just an object I can control and I can break you like our china.”
- Any Force During an Argument. Hurts you in anger or in “play”, pushing , shoving, pulling, grabbing you by the collar, holding you down, restraining you from leaving the room, slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, or burning. This cycle of violence is followed by a “honeymoon” period, then an escalation of tension and more violence. The episodes of violence will get more frequent, more intense, and will not stop on their own.