The Batterer: A Psychological Profile
The Batter: A Psychological Profile by Donald G Dutton, PhD with Susan K Golant came out in 1995. The book examines the abusive relationship in detail and gives insight into how and why the abuse happens.
The abusive man is addicted to brutality to keep his shaky self-concept intact. The only time he feels powerful and when he is engaged in acts of violence or control. Abusers fear abandonment and fear being engulfed by the relationship at the same time. They can have a duel personality like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Friends don’t see the violence. Only close family.
Abusers shame and humiliate their partner verbally as well as physically. The degrade them and blame them. The abuser will seek to make their victim dependent on them. And they will show jealousy and rage when the victim asserts any independence.
Alcohol often plays a role. The batter self-medicates his anxiety and depression by drinking and that often fuels his rage. Post-Traumatic stress can cause a person to lash out at their partner and begin abusing them as well. Post-Traumatic stress is characterized by crying, sadness, trouble breathing, panic attacks, nightmare, dizziness and sometimes even black outs.
Abuse often stems from the abusers childhood experiences. They feel rage because they too were victimized and they feel helpless. Instead of seeking help, they become an abuser. Often they view women within the Madonna/Whore complex. Woman can be saintly or dirty and nothing in between. They will put their woman up on a pedestal only to knock her down-repeatedly.
The relationship may not start out as abusive, but there are often precursors. For example, one of the people in the relationship may be clingy while the other is distant. An then anger follows unmet attachment needs. Men sometimes feel angry when their partner isn’t happy. They will wonder why their partner can’t make them happy.
Abusers are neither psychotic nor neurotic. Instead, abusers suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. Borderline Personality disorder is characterized by apathy, anxiety, anger, wavering energy levels and self-destructive behavior. They will have a preoccupation with secrecy and maintaining emotional support. They are deeply afraid of loss and fear isolation. They have conflicting emotions toward others—fluctuating from love to rage and then to guilt. Borderlines are quick to blame their partners when things go wrong in intimate relationships. Men are more likely to strike out against others if they have Borderline Personality Disorder. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be self-destructive.
Socially speaking most abusers are blue-collar workers, though it can be anyone. They will often have a father who shamed them and a mother who was ambivalent toward them. To the abuser intimacy means trying to accomplish the impossible—gluing together their shaky ego. When the relationship fails his very sense of self will be threatened. The projection and blame he casts onto his partner is his self-defense.
How can the batterer be helped? The two biggest obstacles are getting the man to acknowledge the violence and be accountable for it. If these hurdles aren’t cleared, then nothing else will have any effect.
This is an excellent book for anyone who wishes to understand abuse. I highly recommend it.