Behavioral Characteristics Associated with Domestic Violence

Behavioral Characteristics Associated with Domestic Violence

 

The Abuser is Characterized by: The Victim by: Children in abusive homes exhibit:
Poor impulse control, explosive temper, limited tolerance for frustration Long suffering, martyr-like endurance of frustration A combination of limited tolerance, poor impulse control and martyr-like long suffering
Stress disorders and psychosomatic complaints, sophistication of symptoms and success at masking dysfunction vary with level of social and educational sophistication Blatant depressive and/or hysterical symptoms, stress disorders and psychosomatic complaints Depression, much stress and psychosomatizing, absences from school, pre-delinquent and delinquent behavior
Emotional dependency, subject to secret depressions known only to family Economic and emotional dependency, subject to depression, high risk for secret drug and alcohol use, home accidents Economic and emotional dependency, high risk for alcohol and/or drugs, sexual “acting out,” running away, isolation, loneliness, fear
Limited capacity for delayed reinforcement, very “now” oriented, demanding Unlimited patience for discovery of “magic combination” to solve marital and battering problems, “travels miles” on tiny bits of reinforcement Combination of poor impulse control and continued hopefulness that situation will improve
Insatiable ego needs, quality of childlike narcissism (not generally detectable to people outside family group) Low self-esteem, continued faith and hope that battering mate will get a “lucky break” Low self-esteem, sees self and siblings with few options or expectations to succeed
Qualities which suggest great potential for change and improvement, i.e. frequent promises for the future Unrealistic hope that change is imminent, belief in “promises” Mixture of hope and depression, feeling that there is no way out, peer group can be most important contact, if available
Perception of self as having poor social skills, describes relationship with mate as closest he has ever known, remains in contact with own family Gradually increasing social isolation, including loss of contact with own family Increased social isolation, increased peer isolation or complete identification with peers
Accusations against mate, jealousy, voices great fear of being abandoned or “cheated on” Inability to convince partner of loyalty, futilely guards against accusations of “seductive” behavior towards others Bargaining behavior with parents, gets into proving self as does mother
Containment of mate and employment of espionage tactics against mate (e.g. checks car mileage), tactics depend on level of sophistication Allow containment or confinement restriction by mate, interpreting as sign that partner “cares” Increasing deceptiveness, lying, excuses for outings, stealing
No sense of violating others’ personal boundaries, accepts no blame for failures (material, familial or occupational) or for violence Gradually losing sight of personal boundaries for self and children (unable to assess danger accurately), accepts all blame Poor definition of personal boundaries, violation of others’ personal boundaries, blame projections
Belief that his forcible behavior is aimed at securing the family nucleus (for the good of the family) Belief that transient acceptance of violent behavior will ultimately lead to long-term resolution of family problems Little or no understanding of the dynamics of violence (often assumes violence to be the norm)
Apparently feeling no guilt on an emotional level even after intellectual recognition Emotional acceptance of guilt for mate’s behavior, thinks mate “can’t help it,” considers own behavior provocative Self-blame (depending on age) for family feuding, separations, divorce, etc. – internal conflicts
Generational history of family violence Generational history of family violence Continuation of pattern of family violence in own adulthood
Participation in pecking order battering Participation in pecking order battering Pecking order battering – kills animals, batters younger siblings and sometimes parents in later years
Assaultive skills which improve with age and experience, accompanied by a rise in danger potential and lethality risks Learning which behavioral events will either divert or precipitate mate’s violence, but level of carelessness increases, judgment of lethality potential deteriorates over time Use of violence as problem solving technique in school, with peers, with family (appears as early as preschool)
Demanding and often times assaultive role in sexual activities, sometimes punishes with abstinence, at times experiences impotence Poor sexual self-image, assumption that role is to accept totally partner’s sexual behavior (attempts to punish partner with abstinence result in further abuse) Poor sexual self-image, uncertainty about appropriate behavior, confuses model identification, immaturity in peer relationships
Increase in assaultive behavior when mate is pregnant, pregnancy often marks the first assault Being at high risk for assault during pregnancy Higher risk for battery (either as witness or victim) during mother’s pregnancy
Exerting control over mate by threatening homicide and/or suicide, often attempts one or both when partner separates, known to complete either or both Frequent contemplation of suicide, history of minor attempts, occasionally completes either suicide or homicide of partner Heightened suicide attempts, increased thoughts of doing away with self and/or murdering parents, proneness to negligence and carelessness

 

(from Behavioral Characteristics Associated with Domestic Violence
by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, 1995)