Violent/Abusive Men
General Information

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EMOTIONAL ISOLATION: These men do not see their friends as a source of emotional support, or do not have friends outside the primary relationship. If they do, they're generally superficial, social not emotional.

DEPENDENCY ON VICTIM: These men see their partner as being responsible for recognizing and meeting their emotional needs; in short, the partner has the power and responsibility to make them feel good, to nurture and to comfort them. This dependency closely resembles, what children attribute to their mothers, "Mom can make it "all better." This dependency can be material as well, including money, housing, clothing, transportation, etc.

EXTERNALIZATION OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEHAVIOR: Violent men tend to attach responsibility for their actions to persons and external situations and not to themselves. They rationalize their violence by attributing it entirely to the victim.

MINIMIZING AND DENYING THE VIOLENCE: The men generally minimize or denied the severity and frequency of the violence. For example, "I just pushed her," "I've got some problems, but I'm certainly not one of those wife-beaters" are common ways of minimizing the violence that has occurred.

EXTREMES OF BEHAVIORS: These men are often described as being nice guys by friends, co-workers and even the partner. But the partner also sees the irritable, nasty, belligerent and hostile other side. These extremes in behavior make it difficult for many people to identify these men as batters.

NOT IN TOUCH WITH HIS OWN STRESS: Most men, particularly men who batter, tend to be very disconnected from their own feelings of stress. So, it is a potentially dangerous situation because they don't see the need to deal with that stress until it becomes extreme in size and is expressed through violence.

STRONG ATTACHMENT TO TRADITIONAL MALE ROLE IN THE HOME: "A man's home is his castle" is a common expression by this population, reinforced by their behavior. By trying to live up to these beliefs these men feel the need to act out the controlling and dominant behavior in the home. Also, if you include the internal feelings of powerlessness due to the inability of live up to unrealistic expectations, you have a dangerous situation of justified violence.

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL USE: Drugs and alcohol are involved in more than 60 percent of violent episodes. Alcohol lowers inhibitions against violence, while heavy use of drugs like cocaine increases paranoia, which increases the likelihood of violence. Some men attribute their violence to the drugs or alcohol, claiming to feel out of control when under their influence. However, most of the man has been abusive with or without a substance problem.

INTERNAL FEELINGS OF DEPRESSION AND DESPAIR: Often under the hostility and aggression are the feelings of depression and despair. These feelings tend to emerge in men at two points. First, when the man is actively working at and succeeding in controlling his aggression. Secondly, after his female partner has left him as a result of the violence. The second point is critical in that it is very common for the man at this point to think about suicide and homicide.

INSTRUMENTAL AGGRESSION: One of the most frightening and dangerous batter is a man whose violence becomes "instrumental" in getting what he want. It's no longer simply an out-of-control rage response, but a calculated way of gaining a desired reward. This man seems to show no emotion during the violence and remorse afterwards.

MILITARY MEN: It's estimated that over 58 percent of batters have had prior military experience. These men are given training in the use violence to deal with conflict. Most military men tend to hold traditional sex roles, where the man is strong, and in charge. These factors may increase the possible violence in the home.


* 70% of men who are arrested for domestic assault or enter domestic abuse treatment will come from families of origin where there was violence or abusive behavior. Violence is pass on from generation to generation.

* USA is violent culture. Use of force to resolve conflict is promoted (cite TV, movies, newspapers etc.) which supports men being violent (sports, war, etc.).

* 90% of violent crimes are committed by men

* The importance of being in control: Males in general, abusive men in particular, value being in control.

a. Growing up in a home where there is violence is a frightening experience. A man will feel powerless as a child watching his father physically abuse his mother, his siblings, or himself. He does not have the size or strength to do anything about stopping this abuse.

b. Sometimes these man first exposure to violence and feelings of powerless as a child was watching his mothers physically abuse his siblings, or himself. Which greatly affects his relationship with a female partner.

c. As an adult this man does not want to feel powerless or frightened as he did as a child in his family of origin. He does not, want to feel like a victim. Being in control is his way of compensating for that feeling.

d. In a conflict with a partner, he will use violence or force to stay in control if he feels threatened or if he feels he will "lose" an argument. He would rather victimize his partner than 'be a victim.

* Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills

* Men who grew up in violent homes witness using force and power as a way to resolve conflicts. They do not see people using other methods - such as active listening, appreciating another person's point of view, negotiating, and compromise.

* Violence can be controlled by consequences and/or education and counseling. Studies have suggest that 60% of men who are arrested and go through a program of education and therapy do not re-offend.

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Helpful Links

Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse

Link between Alcohol and Other Drugs and Domestic Violence

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community

Beyond Anger : A Guide for Men : How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of Life by Thomas J. Harbin

"We do what we are taught
but we can learn to do it different."

Samuel Simmons Consulting * PO Box 6120 * Minneapolis, MN * 55406-0120