They are not much different from one another… Abusive people typically think they are unique, so different from other people that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. But actually, abusers have a lot in common with one another and share a great many thinking patterns and behaviors. These may include:
Success Fantasies: The abuser believes in fantasies of being rich, famous, or extremely successful in other terms if only other people weren’t holding her back. They’re blocking the way makes the abuser feel justified in getting back at them, including through abuse. The abuser also puts other people down as a way of building their self up.
￼Blaming: The abuser shifts responsibility for certain actions to others, which allows the abuser to be angry at the other person for “causing” the behavior. For example: “If you would stay out of it while I am disciplining the kids, I could do it without hitting them.”
￼Excuse Making: Instead of accepting responsibility for certain actions, the abuser tries to justify their behavior with excuses. For example, “My parents never loved me,” or “My parents beat me,” or “I had a bad day, and when I walked in and saw this mess I lost my temper,” or “I couldn’t let him talk to me that way, there was nothing else I could do.”
￼Redefining: The abuser redefines the situation so that the problem lies not with the abuser but with others or the outside world. For example: The abuser doesn’t come home at 6 p.m. for dinner as prearranged; he or she comes home at 4 a.m. The abuser says, “You’re an awful cook anyway. Why should I come home to eat this stuff? I bet the kids wouldn’t even eat it.”
￼Making Fools of Others: The abuser combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his reactions, and provoking a fight between or among others. She may try to charm the person she wants to manipulate, pretending a great deal of interest in and concern for that person in order to get on his good side.
￼Assuming: Abusive people often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they “know” what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example: “I knew you’d be mad because I went out for a drink after work, so I figured I might as well stay out and enjoy myself.”
￼Emotional Dependence: Abusive individuals are usually very emotionally dependent on their spouse. The result of their inner rage at being dependent means that the abuser acts in controlling ways to exert power and to deny their own weakness.
One major symptom is strong jealousy and possessive actions, normally sexual in nature. The abuser will spend a great deal of time monitoring their spouses activities. The abuser lacks supportive relationships. Another sign of dependence is the effect of what happens when the abused person leaves the home because of the abuse. It is common for the abuser to make extraordinary attempts to persuade them to return.
￼Lying: The abuser manipulates by lying to control information. The abuser may also use lying to keep other people, including the victim, off-balance psychologically. For example: The abuser tries to appear truthful when actually lying, or tries to look deceitful when actually telling the truth.
￼Rigid Application of Traditional Sex Attitudes: Abusive spouses tend to have more inflexible beliefs about roles and functions of their spouses in the marriage. The wife may expect the husband to over fulfill all the financial needs and household/parenting chores.
￼Drama and Excitement: Abusive people have trouble experiencing close, satisfying relationships. They substitute drama and excitement for closeness. Abusive people find it exciting to watch others become angry, get into fights, or fall into a general uproar. Often, they’ll use a combination of tactics to set up an exciting situation.
￼Closed Channel: The abusive person does not tell much about personal details and real feelings. The abuser is not open to new information about herself either, such as someone else’s thoughts about them personally. The abuser is secretive, close-minded and self-righteous. Abusers believe they are right in all situations.
￼Ownership: The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, the abuser believes that anything that is wanted should be owned, and that the abuser can do as wanted with anything that is hers. The same attitude applies to people. It justifies controlling others’ behavior, physically hurting them and taking things that belong to them.
￼Poor Anger Management: Individuals who have experienced a violent and abusive childhood are more likely to grow up and become spouse abusers. A person who sees violence as the primary method for settling differences as a child is not going to have very many alternate ways available to channel anger. A person without an everyday outlet for anger risks exploding toward the people closest to them.
￼Minimizing: The abuser ducks responsibility for abusive actions by trying to make them seem less important than they are. For example: “I didn’t hit you that hard”, or “I only hit one of the kids. I could have done them all.”
￼Fragmentation: The abuser usually keeps the abusive behavior separate from the rest of her life. The separation is physical; for example, the abuser will beat up family members but not people outside the home. The separation is also psychological; for example, it is not uncommon for an abuser to attend church Sunday morning and beat the victim Sunday night. The abuser sees no inconsistency in this behavior and feels justified in it.
￼Above the Rules: As mentioned earlier, abusers generally believe they are better than other people and so don’t have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too. Each inmate usually believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, she is not. An abuser shows above-the-rules thinking in saying, “I don’t need counseling. Nobody knows as much about my life as I do. I can handle my life without help from anybody.
￼Self-glorification: The abuser usually thinks of herself as strong, superior, independent and self-sufficient. When anyone says or does anything that doesn’t fit this glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.
￼Inability to express feelings with words: This type of person is rarely capable of true intimacy and may feel very threatened by the prospect of being open and vulnerable. Particularly when frustrated, the abusive person expects instant gratification from their spouse who is expected to “read” their mind and “know” what their mate wants. When the mate doesn’t know what is expected the wife may interpret this as meaning they do not really love them. Therefore with an abusive individual, rejection = violence.
￼Vagueness: Thinking and speaking vaguely lets the abuser avoid responsibility. Example: “I’m late because I had to do something on the way home.”
About Abusers (Male/Female)
Batterers tend to be preoccupied with a “macho” ideal of womanhood. They feel a need to dominate and control men and often expect it as their right and privilege. They may tend to associate some feminine qualities with weakness and fear intimacy as making them vulnerable.
They are frequently characterized as lacking in assertive communication skills and appearing alternatively passive or aggressive in nature. They are more inclined to resolve problems and emotions through violence, as the male sex role stereotype would suggest. This tendency tends to add to the stress many batterers create for themselves and their families.
Batterers have higher levels of hostility than non-batterers. Their range of emotions tend to be reduced to anger, which in-turn is expressed primarily through violent behavior similar to the same behavior sanctioned by various macho-male subcultures. Emotional tensions are typically suppressed until they finally “explode.”
Despite the bravado that many batterers display, they characteristically suffer from lower self-esteem than non-batterers. They often feel that they have not lived up to the feminine sex role stereotype and consequently overcompensate with hyper-feminine behavior.
They become emotionally dependent on their partners and consequently become threatened by the possibility of their departure. This is often evident in excessive jealousy and possessiveness.
Batterers have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. The alcohol acts as a uninhibitor, intensifying abusive incidents, but it does not “cause” the abuse.
Many batterers are abusive with or without alcohol and continue their violence even after “drying out.” Some experts consider alcohol and drug abuse to act as a sedative for the emotional distress most batterers bear in response to their abusive childhood, sense of inadequacy, and poor communication skills.
The majority of female batterers have experienced or witnessed childhood violence that has left them with low self-esteem, poor role models, and sometimes traumatized. Very much like the alcoholic, abusers deny there is a problem and refuse to accept responsibility for their abusive behaviour. She blames everyone else for making her angry, thereby excusing her actions.