Table of Contents
About The Domestic
Order of Protection
Devise a Safety
How to Help
Cycle of Violence
Many people are interested in ways to predict whether
they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically
abusive. Below is a list of common behaviors that are seen in abusive
people. Many victims do not realize that these early behaviors are warning
signs of potential future physical abuse, such as the last four (***)
behaviors. If the person has several (three or more) of the first 12
listed behaviors, there is a strong potential for physical violence -- the
more signs a person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. In some
cases, a batterer may only have a couple of behaviors that the victim can
recognize, but they may be very exaggerated (e.g., will try to explain
his behavior as signs of his love and concern), and a victim may
be flattered at first. However, as time goes by, the behavior becomes more
severe and serves to dominate or control the other person.
1. Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship,
an abuser will always 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.
He will question the other person about whom she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of the time
she spends with her
family or friends. As the jealousy progresses, he may call frequently
during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let you work
for fear you will meet someone else, or even do strange behaviors like
checking your car mileage or asking friends to watch you.
2. Controlling Behavior: At first, the batterer
will say that this behavior is because he is concerned with your
safety, your need to use your time well, or your need to make good
decisions. He will be angry if you are late coming back from an
appointment or a class, he will question you closely about where you
went and whom you talked to. As this behavior gets worse, he may not
let you make personal decisions about your clothing, hair style,
3. Quick Involvement: Many people in abusive
relationships dated or knew their abusive partners for less than six
months before they were married, engaged or living together. He comes
on like a whirlwind, claiming, “You are the only person I could ever talk
to” or “I’ve never felt like this for anyone before. He will pressure
you to commit to the relationship in such a way that you may later feel
guilty or that you are “letting him down” if you want to slow down
involvement or break up.
4. Unrealistic Expectations: Abusive people will
expect their partner to meet all their needs; he expects you to be the
perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, the perfect friend or the perfect lover.
He will say things like, “If you love me, I’m all you need and you are
all I need.” You are supposed to take care of all of his emotional
5. Isolation: The abusive person will try to cut
you off from all resources. He accuses you of being “tied to your
mother’s apron strings,” or your friends of “trying to cause trouble”
between you. If you have a friend of the opposite sex, you are “going out
on him” and if you have friends of the same sex, he may accuse you
of being gay.
6. Blames Others for Problems: He is
chronically unemployed, someone is always waiting for him to do wrong
or mess up or someone is always out to get him. He may make
mistakes and blame you for upsetting him. He may accuse you of
preventing him from concentrating on school. He will tell you that
you are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.
7. Blames Others for Feelings: He will tell
you, “You make me mad,” “You are hurting me by not doing what I want you
to do,” or “I can’t help being angry.” He really makes the decisions
about how he thinks or feels, but will use feelings to manipulate you.
8. Hypersensitivity: An abusive person is easily
insulted, and claims that their feelings are hurt when really he is
very mad. He often takes the slightest setbacks as personal attacks.
He will rant about things that are really just part of living like
being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to
help others with chores.
to Animals or Children: This is a
person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain and
suffering. He may tease younger brothers or sisters until they cry.
10.“Playful” use of Force in Sex: This kind of
person is likely to throw you down or try to hold you down during making
out, or he may want you to act out fantasies in which you are
helpless. He is letting you know that the idea of sex is exciting.
He may show little concern about whether you want affection and may
sulk or use anger to manipulate you into compliance.
11. Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things
that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen when the abusive
person tries to degrade you, curses you, calls you names or makes fun of
your accomplishments. The abusive person will tell you that you are stupid
and unable to function without him. This may involve waking you up to
verbally abuse you or not letting you go to sleep until you talk out an
12. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Many people are
confused by their abusive partner’s “sudden” changes in mood -- you may
think he has a mental problem because he is nice one minute and the next
minute he is exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of
people who are abusive to their partners, and these behaviors are related
to other characteristics like hypersensitivity.
13. *** Past Battering: This person may say that
he has hit girlfriends in the past but the other person “made him do it.” You may hear from relatives or past girlfriends that
he is abusive. An abusive person will be
physically abusive to any one they are with if the other person is with
them long enough for the violence to begin; situational circumstances do
not change a person into an abuser.
14. *** Threats of violence: This could include
any threat of physical force meant to control you: “I’ll slap you,” “I’ll
kill you,” or “I’ll break your neck." Most people do not threaten their
partners, but the abusive person will try to excuse his threats by
saying, “Everybody talks that way.”
15. *** Breaking or Striking Objects: This
behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is
mostly used to terrorize you into submission. The abuser may beat on the
table with his fists, throw objects at or near you, kick the car, slam
the door or drive at a high rate of speed or recklessly to scare you. Not
only is this a sign of extreme emotional immaturity, but there is great
danger when someone thinks they have the “right” to punish or frighten
*** Any Force During an Argument: This may
involve an abusive partner holding you down, physically restraining you
from leaving the room, any pushing or shoving. He may hold you against
the wall and say, “You are going to listen to me.”
My partner loves me . . . he didn’t mean to hurt me.
Abuse is about power and control. It is not about
My partner promised to get counseling
Abusers tend to make promises when they feel they are
not in control.
When you file charges, you have taken control away
from your abuser, who is likely to promise anything to get that control
It is just that my partner was under a lot of stress
. . . or drunk.
You can chose to believe that there are reasons, but
there can never be a justifiable reason for your abuse.
It will never happen again.
It might. Chances are, it will if your abuser is not
It’s really not that bad, we have had great times.
All relationships have good and bad times, but
violent relationships are not good for anyone. Healthy relationships are
based on caring, equality and respect. They are not about power and
EMOTIONAL ABUSE - This is
often the first sign of abusive behavior exhibited by someone who batters.
In the beginning it may as simple as the silent treatment, but it often
progresses to angry words and put downs.
- Finding faults in all your friends/family (this is
the first step in the isolation process)
- Withholding emotions, not talking or sharing,
withholding approval or affections
- Does not acknowledge your feelings
- Continuous criticism
- Name-calling, mocking, put-downs
- Yelling, swearing, being lewd
- Pressure tactics (using guilt trips, rushing you,
threats to leave)
- Humiliated in public (including outbursts of anger to
insults in public)
- Manipulation by lies, omitting facts, or telling only
portions of the facts
- Angry gestures, slamming doors, throwing things,
hitting walls or furniture near you
- Threats (to harm you, to not pay bills, to not buy
- Using children (making threats to take them or to
call DHS, criticizing your parenting skills)
ECONOMIC ABUSE - Again,
this begins in subtle ways and develops into the abuser's dominant control
over all economic aspects.
- Insisting that you quit your job (saying he will
take care of you, sites faults with coworkers and bosses - point out how
they "mistreat" you)
- Recanting on promises to pay bills (for example, your
car payment, insurance, etc.)
- Makes you account for your spending with no
accounting for abuser's spending
- Limiting your access to funds (taking ATM card or
removing your name from accounts)
- Not paying bills, buying groceries, or taking care of
the children's needs
PHYSICAL ABUSE - This is
usually first exhibited by getting "in your face" or invading your
personal space during an argument and progresses into offensive and
- Shouting at you
- Invading your personal space
- Pull hair
- Cleaning/displaying weapons
- Refusing to let you leave
- Being locked in/out of house
- Destroying your possessions
- Abandoned in dangerous places
- Driving recklessly
- Disabling car, hiding keys to car
- Refusing medical care
- Hurtful/unwanted touching of sexual parts
- Rape (use of force, threats, coercion, or
manipulation to obtain sex
- Intimidating by blocking exit, making threatening
- Refusing to let you sleep until he is ready to
Answering the following questions may help you
determine whether the relationship you are in is abusive. Check the
questions that apply to you:
Does your partner:
Embarrass you in front of people?
Belittle your accomplishments?
Make you feel unworthy?
Criticize your sexual performance?
Constantly contradict himself/herself to confuse
Do things for which you are constantly making
excuses to others or yourself?
Isolate you from many of the people you care about
Make you feel ashamed a lot of the time?
Make you believe he is smarter than you and
therefore more able to make decisions?
Make you feel like you are crazy?
Make you perform sexual acts that are embarrassing
or demeaning to you?
Use intimidation to make you do what he wants?
Prevent you from doing common-place activities such
as visiting friends or family, or talking to the opposite sex?
Control the financial aspects of your life?
Use money as a way of controlling you?
Make you believe that you can not exist without
Make you feel that there is no way out and that
"you made your own bed and you must lie in it?
Make you find ways of compromising your feelings
for the sake of peace?
Treat you roughly (grab, pinch, push, or shove
Threaten you (verbally or with a weapon)?
Hold you to keep you from leaving after an
Lose control when he is drunk or using drugs?
Get extremely angry, frequently, and without an
Escalate his anger into violence . . .slapping,
Not believe that he has hurt you, nor feel sorry
for what he has done?
Physically force you to do what you do not want to
||Do you believe you can help your partner change his
abusive behavior if you were only to change yourself in some way, if you
only did some things differently, if you really loved him more?
||Believe that you deserve to be abused or punished?
||Find that not making him angry has become a
major part of your life?
||Do what he wants you to do, rather than what
you want to do, out of fear?
||Stay with him only because you’re afraid he
might hurt you if you left?
If you answered "yes" to many of these questions, you
have identified an abusive relationship. If the abuse has occurred during
dating, it is very likely to continue after marriage. Once physical abuse
has occurred, it is likely to occur again and to escalate over time. You
cannot change your partner’s behavior. You can only change yourself. It is
not necessary to stay in a relationship of fear. You have the right to
choose how you wish to live.
1. Low Frustration Tolerance - Reacts to stress in
self-defeating ways, unable to cope effectively with anxiety, acts out
when frustrated. Frustration leads to aggression.
2. Impulsive - Is quick to act, wants immediate gratification,
has little or no consideration for the consequences, lacks insight, has
poor judgment, has limited cognitive filtering.
3. Emotional Liability/Depression - Quick-tempered, short-fused,
hot-headed, rapid mood swings, moody, sullen, irritable, humorless.
4. Childhood Abuse - Sexual and physical abuse, maternal or
paternal deprivation, rejection, abandonment, exposure to violent role
models in the home.
5. Loner - Is isolated and withdrawn, has poor interpersonal
relations, has no empathy for others, lacks feeling of guilt and remorse.
6. Overly sensitive - Hypersensitive to criticism and real or
perceived slights, suspicious, fearful, distrustful, paranoid.
7. Altered Consciousness - Sees red, “blanking,” has blackouts,
de-realization/depersonalization. ("It’s like I wasn’t there" or "It was
me, but not me”), impaired reality testing, hallucinations.
8. Threats of Violence - Toward self and/or others, direct,
veiled, implied, or conditional.
9. Blames Others – Projects blame onto others, fatalistic,
external locus of control, avoids personal responsibility for behavior,
views self as “victim” instead of “victimizer,” self-centered, sense of
10. Chemical Abuse - Especially alcohol, opiates, amphetamines,
crack, and hallucinogens (PCP, LSD), an angry drunk, dramatic
personality/mood changes when under the influence.
11. Mental Health Problems Requiring In-Patient Hospitalization
- Especially with arrest history for any offenses prior to
12. **History of Violence** - Towards self and others, actual
physical force used to injure, harm, or damage. This element is the most
significant in assessing individuals for potential dangerousness.
13. Odd/Bizarre Beliefs - Superstitious, magical thinking,
religiosity, sexuality, violent fantasies (especially when violence is
14. Physical Problems - Congenital defects, severe acne, scars,
stuttering, any of which contribute to poor self-image, lack of
self-esteem, and isolation. History of head trauma, brain
15. Preoccupation With Violence Themes - Movies, books, TV,
newspaper articles, magazines (detective), music, weapons collections,
guns, knives, implements of torture, S & M, Nazi paraphernalia.
16. Pathological Triad/School Problems
- Fire-setting, enuresis,
cruelty to animals, fighting, truancy, temper tantrums, inability to get
along with others, ejection of authority.
Alan C. Brantley, Traits and Characteristics of Violent Offenders, FBI