Who are the men who batter?
Men who batter come from all socio-economic backgrounds, races, religions and walks of life. The abuser may be a blue-collar or white-collar worker, unemployed or highly paid. He may be a drinker or a non-drinker.
Batterers represent all different personalities, family backgrounds and professions. There is no “typical batterer.” The majority of batterers are only violent with their wives or female partners. One study has found that 90 percent of abusers do not have criminal records and that batterers are generally law abiding outside the home.
There is no personality profile of the abuser; however, there are some behaviors that are common to men who batter their partners. They include:
– Denying the existence or minimizing the seriousness of the violence.
– Showing extreme jealousy and possessiveness.
– Refusing to take responsibility for the abuse by blaming it on a loss of control due to the effects of alcohol or drugs, frustration, stress or the victim’s behavior.
n Holding rigid or negative attitudes toward women in general.
Trying to understand why men batter is a complex issue – people want to look for what is wrong with them, believing they must be sick in some way. Battering is not a mental illness that can be diagnosed, but a learned behavioral choice. Men choose to batter their partners because the choice is there to make and, until recently, there has been little or no consequence for their actions.
Battering is the extreme expression of the belief in male dominance over women. Men use physical force to maintain power and control over their relationships with their female partners. They have learned that violence “works” to achieve this goal. Many batterers grew up in homes where physical violence was present. In fact, witnessing domestic violence as a child has been identified as the most common risk factor for becoming a batterer in adulthood.
While many batterers have substance abuse problems, there is no evidence that alcohol or drugs cause violent behavior. Batterers may abuse their partners when they are intoxicated as well as when they are sober.
Because battering is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned. In Northern Nevada, there are several programs available and designed for batterers to address abusive behavior. If more information is needed, contact any domestic violence or family resource center in your area.
John Louritt is a domestic violence caseworker at the Family Support Council of Douglas County, 782-8692. Statistics in this column came from the National Women Abuse Prevention Project.