About Batterers

Victims may hope their partner will change. But experience shows that once a person begins to be abusive, the problem is likely to get worse. Abusers may feel guilty and apologize after an abusive incident. They may promise themselves and their partners that they will change. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, most batterers do not stop being abusive without outside assistance. Learn more about the Cycles of Abuse.

Battering and abuse are learned behaviors. Counseling and education are needed to bring about change in the batterer’s behavior.

Tactics Used by Abusers

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

  • Humiliates, ridicules, name calls, and mocks repeatedly
  • Degrades and withholds affection
  • Lies, breaks promises, betrays trust
  •  Tells partner no one else will want him/her
  • Uses silence and profanity
  • Tells her she will never be able to leave the relationship
  • Acts loving and apologetic after episodes of verbal or physical abuse
  • Begs for forgiveness and promises to change (but never does)
  • Plays mind games


  • Controls what partner does, where partner goes, whom partner sees
  • Denies access to phone or mail
  • Abandons partner in a dangerous place

Use of Family Members

  • Excludes or denies partner access to family members
  • Forces family members to keep secrets
  • Abuses partner
  •  in front of children
  • Encourages children to be abusive to partner
  • Accuses partner of being incompetent parent
  • Misleads family about extent and nature of partner’s illnesses and mental stability

Financial Abuse

  • Steals money, property titles, possessions
  • Takes control of finances without permission
  • Abuses power of attorney
  • Allows partner no access to assets, money, or decision-making about finances

Ridiculing of Values/Spirituality

  • Denies access to worship or clergy
  • Ignores or ridicules religious/cultural values
  • Uses religion/scriptures to justify abuse

Abuse or Neglect of Medical Needs

  • Takes away partner’s wheelchair, walker, glasses, etc.
  • Does not report medical conditions
  • Makes partner miss medical appointments
  • Withholds medication or over medicates

Uses Privilege

  • Treats partner like a servant
  • Makes all major decisions
  • Puts all his/her needs before partner’s

Spying, Surveillance and Tracking

  • Monitors partner’s phone calls/messages, email, texts, and social networking communications
  • Checks cell phone history regularly
  • May use GPS tracking devices, spyware, hidden computer monitoring, etc.

Threats and Intimidation

  • Displays intense, constant jealousy or possessiveness
  • Becomes easily enraged
  • Threatens to leave
  • Threatens to institutionalize partner
  • Destroys partner’s property
  • Drives too fast or recklessly to frighten or intimidate partner
  • Plays on partner’s fears
  • Threatens or hurts children or pets or other family members or friends
  • Threatens to hit with objects or use a weapon
  • Threatens to kill partner or to commit suicide if the relationship should end

Physical Abuse

  • Slaps, punches, pinches, bites, kicks, hits walls, throw things, etc.
  • Holds or ties down, or restrains partner
  • Prevents partner from eating or sleeping
  • Is rough with partner’s body parts during care giving
  • Strangles partner

Sexual Abuse

  • Is rough with intimate body parts during sex
  • Makes demeaning, derogatory remarks about intimate body parts
  • Inflicts pain during sexual intercourse
  • Refuses affection or sexual intimacy as punishment
  • Forces sexual intimacy or uncomfortable sexual behavior
  • Forces sex in exchange for basic need/requests
  • Controls reproductive choices

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming the Person Being Controlled

  • Makes light of abusive behavior
  • Denies abuse happens
  • Does not take partner’s concerns about abuse seriously
  • Insists partner’s bad behavior caused the abuse

An abusive partner chooses to use coercion and force to control the victim for several reasons.

  • They think it is their right or part of their role
  • They feel entitled to use force to maintain control
  • They may have learned this behavior from their own upbringing
  • Controlling and abusive behavior works to maintain their privileges

Battering is not a result of a batter’s being out of control but rather is an attempt by the batterer to stay IN control.

His/her abusive behavior is purposeful and directed

  • Batterers choose when and where to threaten, intimidate, or humiliate their partners
  • They choose what part of their partner’s body to hit to hide the evidence
  • They choose to direct their violent behavior only toward their partner or toward those whom they believe may be helping their partner
  • The need to control their partner increases with stress.

Domestic violence becomes more severe over time and usually requires some sort of intervention or professional treatment to overcome the behavior.

Source: Domestic Violence Services Network