My Sister's House is the first and only non-profit organization to specifically identify
Signs of Abuse (courtesy of Laura's House)
Battering Personality (courtesy of Atask)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 people who physically abuse another person; the last four signs are almost always seen only if the person is a batterer-- if the person has several of the other behaviors (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 behaviors that you can recognize, but they are very exaggerated (e.g. extreme jealousy over ridiculous things).
Initially, the batterer will try to explain his behavior as a sign of love and concern, and a person may be flattered at first; as time goes on, the behavior becomes more severe and serves to dominate the victim.
JealousyAt the beginning of a relationship, abusers will always say that the jealousy is a sign of love; jealousy has nothing to do with love, it's a sign of insecurity and possessiveness.
Batterers will question their victims about who they talk to, accusations of flirting, or be jealous of the time spent with family, friends, or children.
As the jealousy progresses, calls may be made frequently during the day or the abuser may drop by unexpectedly. The victims may not be allowed to work for fear that their partner may meet someone else, or even do strange behaviors such as checking the car mileage or asking friends to watch over their partner.
Controlling BehaviorsAt first, Batterers will say that this behavior are a result of concern for their safety, the need to use time well, or the need to make good decisions. Abusers will be angry if their partner is "late" in coming back from the store or an appointment and will question closely about where the victim went and who they talked to. As this behavior gets worse, the victim may not be allowed to make personal decisions about the house, clothing, going to church; they may keep all the money or even make the victim ask permission to leave the house or room.
Quick InvolvementMany battered partners dated or knew their abusers for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. Abusers come on like a whirlwind - "You're the only person I could ever talk to." "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." They need someone desperately, and will pressure the partner to commit to them.
Unrealistic ExpectationsThey are very dependent on their partner for all of their needs; the expectation for their partner to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, friend. They will say things like "If you love me, I'm all you need - you're all I need." The partner is supposed to take care of everything emotionally and in the home.
IsolationThe abuser tries to cut the victim off from all resources. If you have friends, you are labeled with names such as whore, lesbian or slut. If you are close to your family, you are "tied to the apron strings." The abuser accuses people who are supportive of "causing trouble", or may want to live in the country without a phone, use of the car may be limited, or the abuser may try to keep the victim from working or going to school.
Blames Others For His ProblemsIf the abusers are chronically unemployed, someone is always doing them wrong, out to get them. Mistakes may be made and they then blame the partner for upsetting them and keeping them from concentrating on doing their job. Abusers will tell the partner that they are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.
HypersensitivityAbusers are easily insulted, claiming that feelings are "hurt" when they are really, really mad, or they take the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. They will "rant and rave" about the injustice of things that have happened to them - things that are really just part of living; like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being told that something they do is annoying, being asked to help with chores.
Cruelty To Animals Or ChildrenThis is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain or suffering. The abuser may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability (whips a two-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease children or young brothers and sisters until they cry. (60% of people who beat the partner they are with, also beat their children). Children may not be allowed to eat at the table or they are expected to keep to their room (or quiet) all evening while the abusive person is home.
"Playful" Use of Force in SexThese people may like to throw their partners down and use force during sex, they may want to act out fantasies during sex where their partners are helpless. They are letting them know that the idea of "rape" excites them. They may show little concern about whether their partners wants to have sex or not and uses sulking or anger to manipulate them into compliance. The aggressors may start having sex with the partners while they are sleeping, or demand sex when they are ill or tired.
Verbal AbuseIn addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen by the abusers as degrading their partners, cursing them, running down any of their accomplishments. Their abusers will tell them that they're stupid and unable to function without their presence. This may involve waking to verbal abuse or not allowing sleep.
Rigid Sex RolesAbusers expect their partners to serve. They will say that their partners must stay at home, that their partners must obey in all things - even things that are criminal in nature. Abusers will see all partners as inferior to them, more stupid, unable to be a whole person without their relationship.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde/Mood SwingsMany partners are confused by their abusers' sudden changes in mood-- they will describe that one minute they're nice and the next minute they explode, that they have some special "mental problems" or that they're "crazy". Mood swings are typical of batterers who beat their partners, and these behaviors are related to other characteristics of hypersensitivity.
Past BatteringAbusers may say they have abused partners in the past, but it was their fault. The partner may hear from the relatives or ex-spouse that the person is abusive. Batterers will beat any partner they are involved with; circumstances do not give a person an abusive personality.
Threats Of ViolenceThis would include any threat of physical force meant to control the partner. "I'll slap your mouth off", "I'll kill you", "I'll break your neck." Most abusers do not threaten their mates, but batterers will try to excuse their behavior by saying, "everybody talks like that."
Breaking Or Striking ObjectsThis behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize their partners into submission. The abusers may beat on tables with their fists, throw objects around or near their partners. Again, this is a very remarkable behavior; only very immature people beat on objects in the presence of others in order to threaten them.
Any Force During An ArgumentThis may involve abusers holding partners down, physically restraining them from leaving the room, locking them in a closet, any pushing or shoving. (Abuser may hold their partners against a wall and say, "you're going to listen to me")
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