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Signs to Look for in an Abusive Personality
City of Knoxville, TN Website

Many people are interested in ways to predict whether they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically abusive. Below is a list of common behaviors that are seen in abusive people. Many victims do not realize that these early behaviors are warning signs of potential future physical abuse, such as the last four (***) behaviors. If the person has several (three or more) of the first 12 listed behaviors, there is a strong potential for physical violence -- the more signs a person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. In some cases, a batterer may only have a couple of behaviors that the victim can recognize, but they may be very exaggerated (e.g., will try to explain his behavior as signs of his love and concern), and a victim may be flattered at first. However, as time goes by, the behavior becomes more severe and serves to dominate or control the other person.

1. Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love; jealousy has nothing to do with love, it is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. He will question the other person about whom she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of the time she spends with her family or friends. As the jealousy progresses, he may call frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let you work for fear you will meet someone else, or even do strange behaviors like checking your car mileage or asking friends to watch you.

2. Controlling Behavior: At first, the batterer will say that this behavior is because he is concerned with your safety, your need to use your time well, or your need to make good decisions. He will be angry if you are late coming back from an appointment or a class, he will question you closely about where you went and whom you talked to. As this behavior gets worse, he may not let you make personal decisions about your clothing, hair style, appearance.

3. Quick Involvement: Many people in abusive relationships dated or knew their abusive partners for less than six months before they were married, engaged or living together. He comes on like a whirlwind, claiming, ?You are the only person I could ever talk to? or ?I?ve never felt like this for anyone before. He will pressure you to commit to the relationship in such a way that you may later feel guilty or that you are ?letting him down? if you want to slow down involvement or break up.

4. Unrealistic Expectations: Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs; he expects you to be the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, the perfect friend or the perfect lover. He will say things like, ?If you love me, I?m all you need and you are all I need.? You are supposed to take care of all of his emotional needs.

5. Isolation: The abusive person will try to cut you off from all resources. He accuses you of being ?tied to your mother?s apron strings,? or your friends of ?trying to cause trouble? between you. If you have a friend of the opposite sex, you are ?going out on him? and if you have friends of the same sex, he may accuse you of being gay.

6. Blames Others for Problems: He is chronically unemployed, someone is always waiting for him to do wrong or mess up or someone is always out to get him. He may make mistakes and blame you for upsetting him. He may accuse you of preventing him from concentrating on school. He will tell you that you are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.

7. Blames Others for Feelings: He will tell you, ?You make me mad,? ?You are hurting me by not doing what I want you to do,? or ?I can?t help being angry.? He really makes the decisions about how he thinks or feels, but will use feelings to manipulate you.

8. Hypersensitivity: An abusive person is easily insulted, and claims that their feelings are hurt when really he is very mad. He often takes the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. He will rant about things that are really just part of living like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to help others with chores.

9. Cruelty to Animals or Children: This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain and suffering. He may tease younger brothers or sisters until they cry.

10.?Playful? use of Force in Sex: This kind of person is likely to throw you down or try to hold you down during making out, or he may want you to act out fantasies in which you are helpless. He is letting you know that the idea of sex is exciting. He may show little concern about whether you want affection and may sulk or use anger to manipulate you into compliance.

11. Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen when the abusive person tries to degrade you, curses you, calls you names or makes fun of your accomplishments. The abusive person will tell you that you are stupid and unable to function without him. This may involve waking you up to verbally abuse you or not letting you go to sleep until you talk out an argument.

12. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Many people are confused by their abusive partner?s ?sudden? changes in mood -- you may think he has a mental problem because he is nice one minute and the next minute he is exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who are abusive to their partners, and these behaviors are related to other characteristics like hypersensitivity.

13. *** Past Battering: This person may say that he has hit girlfriends in the past but the other person ?made him do it.? You may hear from relatives or past girlfriends that he is abusive. An abusive person will be physically abusive to any one they are with if the other person is with them long enough for the violence to begin; situational circumstances do not change a person into an abuser.

14. *** Threats of Violence: This could include any threat of physical force meant to control you: ?I?ll slap you,? ?I?ll kill you,? or ?I?ll break your neck." Most people do not threaten their partners, but the abusive person will try to excuse his threats by saying, ?Everybody talks that way.?

15. *** Breaking or Striking Objects: This behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize you into submission. The abuser may beat on the table with his fists, throw objects at or near you, kick the car, slam the door or drive at a high rate of speed or recklessly to scare you. Not only is this a sign of extreme emotional immaturity, but there is great danger when someone thinks they have the ?right? to punish or frighten you.

16. *** Any Force During an Argument: This may involve an abusive partner holding you down, physically restraining you from leaving the room, any pushing or shoving. He may hold you against the wall and say, ?You are going to listen to me.?

Mixed Messages

  • My partner loves me . . . he didn?t mean to hurt me.
  • Abuse is about power and control. It is not about love.
  • My partner promised to get counseling
  • Abusers tend to make promises when they feel they are not in control.
  • When you file charges, you have taken control away from your abuser, who is likely to promise anything to get that control back.
  • It is just that my partner was under a lot of stress . . . or drunk.
  • You can chose to believe that there are reasons, but there can never be a justifiable reason for your abuse.
  • It will never happen again.
  • It might. Chances are, it will if your abuser is not held accountable.
  • It?s really not that bad, we have had great times.
  • All relationships have good and bad times, but violent relationships are not good for anyone. Healthy relationships are based on caring, equality and respect. They are not about power and control.

(These characteristics could probably also apply to a woman who is abusive as well.)
 

foghlaim

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that is one brilliant article janet... i could identify with some of those traits in my ex. Not that i "saw" them to begin with.. took me along time to wake up and smell the roses as they say over here.. and when i did waake up to what was happening, i left him.

I hope others here will read this and take notice.. it's the first time i have seen an article like this that really points out the traits, excuses from both sides, ect..

thanks for posting it Janet.
 

ThatLady

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I've seen many articles on this problem, but I like this one because it's concise and to the point. It defines and explains the behaviors of abusive people very well. Good find, Janet! :)
 

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