Domestic violence offenders come from all ethnic, economic, and social categories. They do not fit into a specific "personality profile." Their primary characteristic is that they batter their intimate partner as a means of maintaining power and control.
Usually battering occurs between a man and a woman, but gays and lesbians can be battered too. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, 97% of the cases presented to the Cape and Islands District Attorney's office involve male defendants and female victims. Below is a list of behaviors that are seen in people who beat their partners; the last four signs listed are battering, but many victims don't realize that this is the beginning of physical abuse. If the person has several of the other behaviors (three or more) there is a strong potential for physical violence - the more signs a person has, the more likely the person is a batterer.
- Controlling behavior
- Quick involvement in or pressure to commit to the relationship
- Unrealistic expectations
- Isolation/cutting the person off from all support and resources
- Blames others for his problems
- Blames others for his feelings
- Cruelty to animals or children
- "Playful" use of force in sex
- Verbal abuse
- Rigid sex roles
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality/sudden mood changes
- Bast battering
- Threats of violence
- Breaking or striking objects
- Any force during an argument
Without sanctions for the use of violence, the batterer will continue to use violence as an effective means of getting the victim to "behave" in a manner prescribed by the batterer. Violence becomes the abuser's method of choice to achieve control because it works.
An abuser must first assume responsibility for his violence before he can stop it. Only then can he begin to develop a plan for changing his behavior. The batterer will not take responsibility for his violence if he believes it is caused by someone else. Excusing a batterer's violence as something that may not have occurred if his partner had not made him so angry, or if he drank or drugged less only allows him to deny responsibility for his abusive behavior and continue his violence. It also reinforces his belief that he is entitled to be violent.