Several years ago, as a counselor working with parolees, I was asked to run a group, not for the victims, but for the batterers. Most of the men, and one woman, in my group would not stand out in a crowd. No one would know for they hid it well. All were extremely charming, and all denied that they were guilty of anything. Some complained that it had happened years ago, and why should it have to follow them through life? One, especially stood out.
He'd once been a fairly wealthy man, a business executive who'd amassed a small fortune for himself, his wife, and his teen-daughters. All seemed perfect in their lives, but he was a very 'cold' and 'unloving' man. Eventually, the night came when his wife asked for a divorce. At first, he did not respond. He waited until she was in bed, and then he went into the bedroom and beat her in the head with a barbell...his teen-age daughters watching in horror.
He was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned. His wife survived and had endure several operations. Eventually the court awarded her his entire fortune. What I saw in group was a man who lacked any sort of remorse whatsoever, a true sociopath. In fact, he blamed her for what happened every chance he got and on several occasions expressed his anger that 'that bitch got all my money.' Listening to him made my skin crawl.
This is quite common in relationships ravished by domestic violence. The typical batterer refuses to be responsible for their violent actions or for the harm they cause. They learn to deny responsibility for their behaviors , minimize injury, and project blame onto the victim . I've found that may often deny that the abuse occurred or minimize the impact of their assaultive behavior. "She hit me first. What was I supposed to do?" announced a 250 pound man who beat his wife so severely that she has lost sight in her left eye. "I just shoved her a little. It's not my fault that she slipped and hit her head." "It's all her fault. She knows not to pick at me when I've been drinking."
Batterers are notorious for making the family afraid by using actions and gestures. They smash things, destroy the victim's property, may abuse pets, children, and even display weapons. Making family members feel bad about themselves is a prime form of emotional abuse. The victims, when they are not being physically beaten down, are humiliated by name calling, mind games, and being made to feel ashamed or guilty. The following are some other characteristics to look for:
--A batterer will often blow up in anger over the smallest of incidents. They take everything personally and are easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings as an excusewhen very angry.
--A batterer is usually excessively jealous. When the relationship is just getting off the ground, the batter may claim that jealousy is a sign of his or her love. The truth is, jealousy has nothing to do with love. It comes from the batterer's low self-esteem and insecurities.
--The batterer is often a drug or alcohol abuser...although neither are the cause of the violence per se.
--The batterer will often make verbal threats such as, "Keep it up and I'll smack your face" or "I’ll kill you". They rationalize this by saying "Everybody talks like that". And they probably DO believe this because most batterers grew up emulating an abusive father.
--The batterer is moody and unpredictable, nice one moment and explosive the next.
--The batterer will discourage your relationships with family and friends in an effort to isolate the victim.
--The batterer will usually control all of the finances and force the victim to account for whatever they spend.