Profile of an Abuser

Abusers, like victims, come from all educational, socio-economic and racial backgrounds. They can be doctors, carpenters, professors, cooks or clergy.

They are often attractive, charming and admired in their communities. Relationships may begin magically as the abuser lavishes attention and charm, wooing the victim. By the time the behavior changes from seemingly-loving to possibly-lethal, the victim is enmeshed in the confusing and debilitating snare of intimate partner violence.

Some traits common to abusers:

Manipulation: In order to successfully control another human being, an abuser needs to be a master manipulator. Techniques can range from charm to anger to tears and are carefully selected to match the personality of the victim.

Jealousy and Controlling Behavior: Controlling abusers are jealous of any contact victims have with others, seeing it as a threat to their control. Abusers may say their jealousy evidences the depth of their love (a myth commonly believed by teens at risk of dating-violence.) Abusers try to isolate victims from family, friends and other support. They may monitor the victim's phone calls, auto mileage, internet usage or accuse their partners of flirting or carrying on affairs. Victims may be interrogated as to where they went, with whom they spoke or why they arrived home 10 minutes late. Abusers often disguise this sort of surveillance as concern for the victim's safety or well-being.

Dominance and Emotional Attachment: An abuser expects complete attention and support from his partner and has unrealistic expectations of the relationship. He may become upset if he believes she has "upstaged" him in public as he craves the spotlight for himself. An abuser concentrates on how well she acts toward him, not how he treats her.

Jekyll and Hyde: Charming one moment, hurling insults or objects the next, an abuser's mood can change quickly and frighteningly, serving to keep a victim confused, off-guard and doing everything possible to prevent the next incident. However, a batterer's public persona may be easy-going and friendly.

Quick Involvement: Abusive relationships often begin with whirlwind courtships as the abuser pulls out all stops to impress the potential victim. Pressure to commit quickly accompanies this behavior.

Blaming, Minimizing and Denial: Abusers are talented at reversing blame and convincing victims that the abuse is somehow "deserved" or their "fault." Another manipulative tactic is to minimize the abuse saying it "wasn't that bad" or completely deny it even happened.

Hypersensitive, Insecure and/or Easily Angered: An abuser's arrogance may hide feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Abusers may exhibit road rage, pick fights at bars or at work. They need to always "be right" and may be super-sensitive to perceived slights or insults, viewing them as direct attacks.

Past Abuse: Evidence shows most batterers have been abusive in past relationships. The current partner may not be aware of this history.