Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Does An Abuser Look Like?

Photo by Ale Paiva @

What does an abuser look like? Can you pick out an abuser walking down the street? Do they have outward signs that they are abusive?

If we could tell that someone was abusive by the way they looked, then it would be so easy to stay away from them and never get involved in the first place. Unfortunately, none of the abusers I have come into contact with have ABUSER tattooed on their forehead.

Abusers can be anyone. They are doctors, police officers, judges, politicians, plumbers, teachers, and even ministers.  There is no set of demographics that can be tied to abusers.  They are in all socio-economic classes, races, ages, religions and educational backgrounds.

There is no typical abuser, but they do appear to have some common characteristics such as jealousy, possessiveness, and low self esteem. Their sense of identity is tied to their partner. Abusers are not “out of control lunatics” that you can just pick out in a crowd. They are everyday people that terrorize their loved ones in their own homes. 

Their abuse is controlled and targeted only at the partner and sometimes their children. They are not attacking strangers on the street or getting into brawls with strangers. They are focusing their energy and abuse on their family.

You will recall that domestic violence is about power and control. Abusers want to keep their loved one under their control by whatever means necessary.

There is still research to be done on abusers: what makes some people abusive and others not, especially when they have watched this behavior as children and grown up with it. Why do some go on to abuse and others not?

There are still many questions about the human personality that remain unanswered. I am very interested in learning if abusers have anti-social personality disorder? Are they sociopaths? There is more work to do in this area to learn the answers to those questions.

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