Batterer Tactics


Domestic Violence is about much more than physical violence.  Perpetrators will use many tactics to maintain control over the victim.  These tactics include:

Using Intimidation

  • Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
  • Smashing things
  • Destroying her property
  • Abusing pets
  • Displaying weapons

Using Emotional Abuse

  • Putting her down
  • Making her feel bad about herself
  • Calling her names
  • Making her think she’s crazy
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating her
  • Making her feel guilty

Using Isolation

  • Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes
  • Limiting her outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify actions

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming

  • Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously
  • Saying the abuse didn’t happen
  • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
  • Saying she caused it

Using Children

  • Making her feel guilty about the children
  • Using the children to relay messages
  • Using visitation to harass her
  • Threatening to take the children away

Using Male Privilege

  • Treating her like a servant
  • Making all the big decisions
  • Acting like the “Master of the Castle”
  • Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Using Economic Abuse

  • Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
  • Making her ask for money
  • Giving her an allowance
  • Taking her money
  • Not letting her know about or have access to family income

Using Coercion and Threats

  • Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her
  • Threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare
  • Making her drop charges
  • Making her do illegal things

Characteristics of Abusive Partners

Initially, the batterer will try to explain his behavior as signs of love and concern but as time goes on, the behaviors become more severe. Abusers may not display all of these characteristics, but will likely exhibit some of the following:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Becoming quickly involved in serious relationships
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Separating partner from family and friends (isolating her)
  • Blames others for his problems
  • Blames others for his feelings
  • Hypersensistivity
  • Cruelty to animals or children
  • Use of force or coercion during sex (rape)
  • Verbal abuse
  • Rigid sex roles
  • Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde personality
  • Threats of violence
  • Breaking or striking objects
  • Any force during an argument
  • Objectification of women
  • Low self-esteem
  • Tight control over finances
  • Minimization of violence
  • Manipulation through guilt

The contrast between a perpetrator’s public image and private behavior with the abused partner sometimes appears confusing and contradictory. Perpetrators are extremely proficient at disguising their abusive behaviors in order to appear socially proper. For example, jealousy that turns to abusive rage in private may look like concern and sensitivity in public. Traits that may be interpreted as protective, caring aspects of a perpetrator’s personality may in actuality be possessiveness and control. Many times, perpetrators are able to control their hostile expressions of power and control until after courtship, marriage or the establishment of other committed living arrangements.

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