Domestic Violence, Part 1: The Abuser
I started out wanting to write an article about abuse. I studied all of the information that I needed for the article. I decided that there was way too much information that had to be taken in; and it would be overwhelming to some. I wanted to pay homage to the countless number of women who have lost their lives to this cycle called abuse and to all the women who lay awake at night crying, trying to figure out how they came to be in this situation and help them safely get out through the courage and strength of others. If you are in an abusive relationship or know of someone that is please seek help right away. I strongly urge you and any children of abuse to seek counseling immediately.
There will be multiple series on this subject, and I am doing this in a blog format so that people can comment and you can also go into a chat room if you wish to tell your story; and I pray that it helps your healing process. I have prayed that God would give me the strength that I need to write this, because with every word I write I think about the women who have lost their struggle and have died a violent death. I will include places to go to seek help, both phone numbers and websites. I will also list places to donate to, as they need both money and items to help women while they stay at a shelter. If I help just one person out, my goal has been met. I chose this subject because it is dear to my heart; it has been around for centuries and still exists; and it is non-bias, it does not discriminate against anyone. It affects all. We all draw a line for ourselves, a line signifying what we will accept and what we won’t. Sometimes through life’s dramatic experiences this line becomes distorted. Let’s learn more about why and how this happens. The 1st part of this blog is about the Abuser.
What is Domestic Violence? “Domestic violence or intimate partner violence occurs when one person causes physical or psychological harm to a current or former intimate partner,” (Illinois Department of Public Health). It is a pattern of behavior in which the abuser exerts power and control over the partner. Domestic violence (DV) is the leading cause of injury to women and children. It is a matter of concern to health care systems, to the legal community, to educational institutions, and to agencies which address issues of poverty and homelessness.
If you are looking for the typical signs of what an abuser might look like, it is not the typical thought that you might have. The abuser is the “person” that lives next door. The abuser is both male and female, they are heterosexual and homosexual and bisexual. The abuser is probably well respected within the community. Here are the facts about the abuser:
Controlling: This is the number one trait. They buy presents to appear “nice” by getting their own way. The abuser will tell the survivor what to do, choose their friends, activities, the food they eat, what the survivor wears, their make-up. The abuser is insistent about making all the important decisions about their lives.
Jealous: Batters are very jealous and promote jealousy as a sign of love. The abuser is jealous of potential affairs as well as friends, family and even children. The abuser will question the victim repeatedly and call them very often wanting to know their where abouts at all times.
Isolate Partner: Batters will isolate their partners by controlling who they see, talk to, where they go, if they work, etc. The batterer will try and destroy social supports and ruin relationships with family and friends, increasing the survivor’s dependence on the batterer. The batterer may accuse their partner of having affairs or of being a lesbian to isolate from friends.
Jekyll and Hyde Personality: Many abusers are very nice and charming one minute, abusive the next. The survivor never knows when an outbreak may occur. This changing behavior is confusing for survivors.
Claims to Be the Victim: Batterers frequently claim to be mistreated by their partners, usually accusing their partners of being abusive, unfaithful, and a “B___”, etc. They will say they were defending themselves when they hit their partner.
Blames Others for Problems, Feelings, and Actions: Many batterers place the blame on their partners; for their problems, feelings and actions. The fail to take responsibility for their actions, behaviors, feelings, or problems; they blame others. Batterers deny they are abusive, blaming the survivor for the abuse. “You made me so mad.”
Overly Sensitive: Many batterers are overly sensitive; becoming upset and angry at the least discomfort or the littlest thing that goes wrong, and blames others for their feelings.
Unrealistic Expectations: The batterer expects their partner to meet all of their emotional and physical needs. The batterer expects perfection from their partner. Some batterers expect perfection from themselves and blame others, especially their partner, when their unrealistic expectation is not met.
Quick Romantic Involvement: Many survivors felt like they were “swept right off their feet” by the batterer. They need someone immediately and will pressure the survivor to commit quickly.
Often Believes in Rigid Sex Roles: The vast majority of heterosexual batterers are male. They frequently have rigid sex roles, feeling male entitlement to being taken care of by a woman. Heterosexual male batterers generally see women as inferior.
Verbally and Emotionally Abusive: Batterers frequently start with verbal or emotional abuse, put downs, degrading comments, and belittling behavior earlier, adding physical violence later in the relationship.
Intimidating Tactics and Cruelty: the batterer will use intimidating looks, threats, breaking and throwing things, hurting children, and abusing pets.
May Use “Playful” Force During Sex: A batterer might use “playful” force during sex; especially when it makes their partner feel uncomfortable or afraid.
Charming and Persuasive: Some batterers are charming and persuasive. The batterer feels like the perfect dating partner in the beginning, only to become abusive when the partner becomes more dependent on the relationship. Many batterers seem like wonderful people to family, co-workers, and friends.
Use of Force in an Argument: Any use of force in an argument is an early sign of an abusive relationship. Behaviors include restraint during an argument, pushing, twisting an arm, or not allowing the survivor to get out of the car, or house. These types of physically abusive behaviors frequently proceed hitting and may not be recognized as abusive behaviors.
Promises: Batterers frequently make promises that they do not keep. The biggest of these promises is the promise that they will not do it again.
From Any Socio-Economic Status, Educational Level, Race, or Ethnicity: Batterers are found in all socio-economic levels, educational levels, races, religions, ethnicities, neighborhoods, professions-all walks of life.
Why do they batter? One of the obvious reasons is that they want the control. They have to have the upper hand in everything about the victim. Battering is not a mental illness that can be diagnosed, but a learned behavioral choice. Yes, they have a choice as to abuse or not to abuse. They have learned that violence “works” to achieve power and control in a relationship. Many batterers grew up in homes where they or a sibling were physically abused themselves or their mother was abused by their father. At one abuse program 70% of participants came from violent homes. Witnessing domestic violence as a child has been identified as the most common risk factor for becoming a batterer in adulthood.
While many batterers have substance problems, there is no evidence that alcohol or drugs cause violent behavior. If fact, batterers may abuse their partners when they are intoxicated as well as when they are sober. Battering incidents involving alcohol or drug abuse may be more severe.
Can a batterer change? Yes, it is a learned behavior and through counseling, whether it’s by the batterers own accord or court mandated, they will learn to be accountable for his/her actions.
What would I do or say to an abuser? I would take their face in my hand. I would tell them; I’m Sorry. I am sorry you saw things that you shouldn’t have seen. I’m sorry you were not loved the way you should have been loved. I am sorry you were made to feel that whatever you did or said was not important. I’m sorry for every tear you have shed as a child and as an adult. I am sorry you didn’t feel safe. I am sorry you felt like you should have protected your family, but couldn’t, this was not your fault, nor your responsibility, and you were only a child. I’m sorry you didn’t play and laugh as a normal child does; you lived your life in fear. I can only say I’m sorry so much, you have to be sorry as well. You have to realize that you are causing trauma in your mate, your children and those around you. You are so imperfect! Have a better life for your children, and your partner, they deserve it. Break the cycle today!! I know you don’t want to see your children abuse your grandchildren. I know you don’t want to see your child abuse their partner. Get help by calling Choices. Choices is a program designed to assist men in ending abusive behavior in their intimate relationships and prevent violence in future relationships. You can also call the Abuser Intervention Program at 708-798-7737 ext 221 and ask for Norma.
I was a victim over 20 years ago. After talking with various organizations about abuse, there is still an aspect that hasn’t changed in all these years. There are still more shelters for animals than there are for women. This bothers me so much. Where are we at in the scale of life? Is not our mere existence that important to not be stood up for and be counted? I know we have made progress, but there is still so much more that needs to be done. We need more shelters. We need to acknowledge this problem at the elementary school level. I will be discussing this further in my next few blogs.