{Guest Column} Domestic violence (Part 3 of 4): Who is the abuser?

By Teresia Rose-Reed
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power:
Dominance—Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession.
Humiliation—An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you’re worthless and that no one else will want you, you’re less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
Isolation—In order to increase your dependence on him or her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.
Threats—Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.
Intimidation—The abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare people into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things, destroying property, hurting pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if the victim does not obey, there will be violent consequences.
Denial and blame—Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. The abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to the victim: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is someone else s fault.
Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time
Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.
Source: Breaking the Silence: A Handbook for Battered Women by Nebraska Department of Social Services

Teresia Rose-Reed

Teresia Rose-Reed is a
certified grief recovery specialist.