by Alvon Woods
Many women are interested in ways that they can predict whether they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically abusive. Below is a list of behaviors that are seen in people who batter their girlfriends, lovers, or wives; the last four signs are almost always seen only if the person is a physical batterer -- if the person has several of the other behaviors (say three or more), the batterer is battering emotionally and there is a strong potential for physical violence. The more signs the person has, the more likely the person is an emotional or physical batterer. In some cases, a batterer may have only a couple of behaviors that the woman can recognize, but they are very exaggerated (e.g., extreme jealousy over ridiculous things). Initially, the batterer will try to explain the emotionally abusive behavior (described below) as signs of love and concern, and a woman may be flattered at first; as time goes on, the behaviors become more severe and serve to dominate the woman.
1. JEALOUSY: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will assert that his jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love, it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. The abuser will question the woman about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of the time she spends with her family, friends, or children. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser may call the woman frequently at home/work during the day or drop by unexpectedly. The abuser may refuse to let the woman work for fear she will meet someone else, or even perform strange behaviors such as checking the woman`s car mileage or asking friends to watch her.
2. CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR: At first, the batterer will say that this behavior is necessary because the batterer is concerned for the woman`s safety, her need to use her time well, or her need to make good decisions. The batterer will be angry if the woman is "late" coming back from the store or an appointment; the batterer will question her closely about where she went, who she talked to, etc. As this behavior progresses, the batterer may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing, going to church, etc. The batterer may keep all the money or even make the woman ask permission to leave the house, leave the room, use the phone, etc.
3. QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser comes on like a whirlwind claiming "love at first sight," and will tell the woman flattering things such as, "You`re the only person I could ever talk to," or, "I`ve never felt loved like this by anyone." The abuser needs someone desperately and will pressure the woman to commit to the abuser.
4. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: The abuser is very dependent on the woman for all his needs; the abuser expects the woman to be the perfect lover, mother, wife, and/or friend. The abuser will say things like, "If you love me, I’m all you need/you`re all I need." The woman is supposed to take care of everything for the abuser emotionally and in the home.
5. ISOLATION: The abuser tries to cut off the woman from all resources. If the woman has other men friends (and she`s heterosexual) she`s a "*bleep*"; if she has other female friends (and she`s heterosexual) she`s a lesbian; if the woman is close to family, she is "tied to the apron strings." The abuser accuses people who are the woman`s support of "causing trouble." The abuser may want to live in the country without a phone, not let the woman use the car, or try to keep the woman from working or going to school.
6. BLAME: The abuser blames others for his problems. If the abuser is chronically unemployed, he complains of "others doing me wrong," or of people who are "out to get me." The abuser may make mistakes and then blame the woman for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating on his job. The abuser will tell the woman she is at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.
7. BLAMING OTHERS FOR HIS FEELINGS: The abuser will blame others for his feelings. He will tell the woman, "You make me mad," "You`re hurting me by not doing what I ask," "I can`t help being angry," etc. The abuser makes the decision about what he thinks and feels, but he will use feelings to manipulate the woman. Harder to catch are the abuser`s claims that "you make me happy" or "you control how I feel."
8. HYPERSENSITIVITY: The abuser is easily insulted or claims feelings are "hurt" when the abuser is really feeling mad, or the abuser takes the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. The abuser will rant and rave about the injustice of things that have happened -- things that are really just part of living, like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to help with chores, etc.
9. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN: This characteristic is shown in an abuser who punishes animals brutally or who is insensitive to their pain and suffering; the abuser may expect children to capable of doing things far beyond their ability and punish them when they do not "behave" (e.g., whipping a two-year-old for wetting their diaper), or the abuser may tease children or younger brothers or sisters until they cry. The abuser may also not want children to eat at the table or may expect them to keep in their room all evening when the abuser is home. **60% of men who beat their partners also beat their children.**
10. "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: This characteristic is expressed in an abuser who may like to throw the woman and hold her down during sex, or he may want to act out fantasies where the woman is helpless. The abuser may let the woman know that the idea of rape excites him. He may show little concern about whether the woman wants to have sex and use sulking or anger to manipulate the woman in to compliance. The abuser may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping, or demand sex when she is ill or tired. THIS BEHAVIOR IS RAPE!
11. MENTAL ABUSE: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this characteristic is demonstrated by the abuser by degrading the woman, cursing her, running down any of her compliments, etc. The abuser will tell the woman she`s stupid and unable to function without him. Mental abuse may also involve waking the woman up to verbally abuse her or not letting her go to sleep.
12. RIGID SEX ROLES: The abuser expects the woman to serve all his needs. He does this by demanding the woman stay home, obey him in all things -- even things that are illegal/criminal in nature. The abuser may see the woman (and possibly all women) as inferior to him (or all men). The abuser may also see the woman (or all women) as more stupid than men and unable to be "whole" without a relationship.
13. "JECKYLL AND HYDE": Many women are confused by their abuser`s sudden changes in mood -- women will describe that one minute the abuser is nice and the next minute he explodes, or one minute is happy and then the next sad. This does not indicate some special "mental problem" or that he is "crazy." Explosiveness and mood swings are typical of abusers who beat their partners, and these behaviors are related to other characteristics, such as hypersensitivity.
14. **PAST BATTERING: The abuser may say he ha*bleep* others in the past, but that those individuals made him do it. The woman may hear from the abuser`s relatives or ex-spouses/ex-lovers that he is physically abusive. A batterer will beat any woman he is with; situational circumstances do not make an abusive personality.
15. **THREATS OF VIOLENCE: This would indicate any threat of physical force meant to control the woman: "I`ll slap your mouth off," "I`ll kill you, or I`ll break your neck." Most people do not threaten their partners, but a batterer will try to excuse this behavior by saying, "Everybody talks like that."
16. **BREAKING OR STRIKING OBJECTS: This behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize the woman into submission. The abuser may beat on tables with his fists, strike walls, or throw objects around or near the woman. Again, this is unusual behavior; only very immature people beat on objects in the presence of others in order to threaten them.
17. **ANY FORCE DURING AN ARGUMENT: This may involve a batterer holding the woman down, physically restraining her from leaving the room, or any pushing or shoving. The abuser may hold the woman against the wall and say, "You`re going to listen to me."