Recognizing a Potential Batterer

A batterer may display any of these symptoms. However, these are warning signs and you should use judgment before making any sort of accusations or decisions.

Has he ever hit you?
If he hits you once, he'll hit you again. The first hit always makes the second one easier. To ensure that this does not happen again, it is important to take action immediately. Let him know that you will not tolerate this behavior. Go to the police, leave him, do anything to show him that you are serious.

Has he ever hit his former girlfriends, spouses, or does he like to brag about previous physical fights with anyone?
If he brags about hurting someone, this should be a warning signal for you. This makes him potentially dangerous and you a potential victim.

What does he do when he gets angry?
How does he handle little things that make him angry? Finding a parking space, or when he can't get the stereo to work, etc. Is he cruel to animals or violent with others? Does he threaten to hurt you, break things, no matter how trivial the disagreement? Does he get angry very fast, very easily, very violently, very often?

Does he attempt to keep you and your life under strict control?
Control is the biggest issue in battery. It can be either overt or subtle. Overt is bullying, dominating, and is often maintained by threats. Trying to control the way you dress, what you eat, how you spend your money, who you see, etc. Subtle is when he oversees your life in a seemingly kind and caring way. Driving you everywhere, lending you money, filling out forms. If you feel unfit to do things for yourself or make your own decisions, look at this as a warning sign.

Is he pathologically jealous?
If you cannot see a friend of the opposite sex, talk on the phone, or go for a walk, watch out.

Does he have two personalities?
A batterer is able to switch from nice to nasty in a second. He may be so charming to everyone but his wife or lover that no one will believe that he hurts her.

Can he express himself clearly?
Most batterers are unable to really communicate with anyone, especially the women they abuse.

Does he blame you for his problems?
Batterers never think that they are responsible for their violence or any other problem in their lives. It is always someone else's fault, usually yours.

How does he react to your success?
Batterers often resent success in their partner's lives- a promotion, raise, recognition etc. If he acts extremely threatened, angry or resentful and not even slightly pleased or proud, watch out. Men who have traditional beliefs about sex roles are more likely to become a batterer.

Does he get violent when he drinks?
Is he able to empathize?
Inability to consider other people is a key factor in being able to hurt them. He may be good at showing sympathy, or acting sorry for you when you are troubled, or vulnerable, because that is a position in which he likes to see. But is he able to empathize or relate to your pain.?

Does he use sex as a means of apologizing?
Trying to seduce you or force you into sex after a violent episode or fight, just to make you 'feel better.'

Does he have trouble with authority figures?
Has he had prior trouble with the authorities? Has he ever been in jail or been kicked out of school?

To get help contact:

National Organization for Victims Assistance
1757 Park Road N.W.
Washington D.C. 20010

Violence Against Women Act Task Force
NOW Legal Defense and Education Task Force
99 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10013

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