The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

January 30, 2013

Characteristics of an abuser

By Jeannie Langston for SNAP

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 — If you are in a relationship or beginning a new relationship there are signs to look for to determine if your significant other is a potential abuser. If a person exhibits several of these behaviors, say, three or more, there is strong potential for physical violence. The following are phrased as a man battering a woman, however, abuse can happen in any type of intimate relationship by either gender.

Jealousy. At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser may say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. As the jealousy progresses, he may call her frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let her work for fear she’ll meet someone else, or even engage in behaviors such as checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her.

Controlling behavior. At first the batterer will say this behavior is due to his concern for her safety, her need to use her time well, or her need to make good decisions. He will be angry if the woman is “late” coming back from the store or an appointment. As this behavior progresses, he may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing or even going to church. He may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or room.

Quick involvement. Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were married, engaged or living together. He will pressure the woman to commit to the relationship in such a way that later the woman may feel very guilty or that she’s “letting him down” if she wants to slow down involvement or break off the relationship.

Unrealistic expectations. Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs. He expects a perfect wife, mother, lover and friend. He will says things such as “if you love me, I’m all you need, and you’re all I need.” His partner is expected to take care of everything for him emotionally and in the home.

Isolation. The abusive person tries to cut his partner off from all resources. If she’s close to family, she’s “tied to the apron strings.” He accuses people who are the woman’s supports of “causing trouble.” He may want to live in the country, without a telephone, refuse to let her drive the car or he may try to keep her from working or going to school.

Blames others for problems. If he is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing him wrong or out to get him. He may make mistakes and then blame the women for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating on the task at hand. He may tell the woman she is at fault for virtually anything that goes wrong in his life.

Blames others for feelings. The abuser may tell his partner “you make me mad,” “you’re hurting me by not doing what I want you to do” or “I can’t help being angry.” He is the one who makes the decision about what he thinks or feels, but he will use these feelings to manipulate his partner.

Verbal abuse. In addition to saying things that are intentionally meant to be cruel and hurtful, verbal abuse is also apparent in the abuser’s degrading of his partner, cursing her and belittling her accomplishments. The abuser tells her she is stupid and unable to function without him.

Rigid sex roles. The abuser expects his partner to serve him. The abuser sees women as inferior to men, responsible for menial tasks and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.

Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde Personality. Many women are confused by the abuser’s sudden changes in mood. She may think he has some sort of mental problem because one minute he’s agreeable, the next he’s exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of men who beat their partners.

Threats of violence. This includes any threat of physical force meant to control the partner: “I’ll slap your mouth off,” “I’ll kill you,” or “I’ll break your neck.” Most people do not threaten their partners. Abusers will try to excuse their threats by saying “everybody talks like that.”

Breaking or striking objects. Breaking loved possessions is used as a punishment but mostly to terrorize the woman into submission. The abuser may beat on the table with his fist or throw objects around or near his partner.

If you are in an abusive relationship and need help call Esther House at (704) 961-7500.