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May 14, 2012

Men Who Batter

There is no definite way to determine why some men batter, but there are common psychological characteristics, known as "risk markers". The following risk markers were derived from studies comparing batterers to non-batterers.

Risk Markers for Spousal Violence


Interpersonal elements:
  • low self-esteem
  • fear of intimacy
  • high power/control needs
  • high levels of anger/hostility
  • depression
  • low stress tolerance
  • defensiveness
  • denial/minimization/justification of own violence
Interpersonal elements:
  • possessiveness/suspiciousness/jealousy of partner
  • poor communication with partner
  • guardedness in all relationships
  • difficulty expressing affection
  • verbal aggressiveness
  • negative attitudes toward women
Environmental elements:
  • violence in family of origin
  • alcohol/other drug abuse
  • un- or under-employment
  • child abuse (more than half of all batterers also abuse their children)
In addition, there are other risk markers that commonly go along with extreme spousal violence.

A History of:
  • having been severely abused by parents as a child
  • having perpetrated severe spousal abuse
  • separations and divorces
  • using a weapon
  • arrests
Psychological Factors:
  • antisocial personality
  • alcohol abuse or dependency
  • generalized aggression
  • emotional volatility
  • high levels of dysphoria, alienation, dependency
Situational Factors:
  • availability of a weapon
  • recent separation
  • threat of divorce
  • child custody dispute
  • recent escalation of violence
  • verbal or non-verbal threats
  • open hostility toward spouse
  • isolation from supports for non-violent resolution of problems

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