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Tactics of Abusive Men


Verbal abuse- A batterer may say things that are cruel, demeaning and hurtful. He may also curse or degrade the victim’s accomplishments.

Break or hit objects- A batterer may break household items, punch holes in walls or break down doors to scare the victim.

Force- A batterer may use force during the argument. He may hold her down physically to keep her from leaving, push or shove her, or threaten to hurt her if she tries to leave.

Roles- A batterer expects his victim to be submissive. A batterer may see women as inferior to men, stupid and unable to achieve full personhood without a man. A batterer may expect his victim to do menial tasks (putting his socks on for him, getting him a beer before the one he has is empty, cleaning the toilet after he has fouled all over it).

Commitment- In some cases, a batterer may pressure his victim to commit to their relationship quickly; moving in together, getting engaged or getting married.

Unrealistic expectations- A batterer may expect his victim to meet all his needs, to take care of all his emotional and physical needs (male entitlement).

Jealousy- A batterer may question a victim about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting and/or having affairs, or become jealous of the time she spends with others including her children.

Isolation- A batterer may isolate the victim by severing her ties to any outside resource, support, friends and family. He may keep the victim from having access to a vehicle, to a job, or to a phone.

Controlling- A batterer may assume all control of the finances; thereby, preventing victim from coming and going as she wishes.

"Dual" personality- A batterer may appear to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; he may be abusive, violent and moody and then suddenly become congenial. A batterer may be a Mr. Hyde ("just the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet") to the outside world and a Dr. Jekyll to his victim and the children.

Cruelty to animals- A batterer may kick, throw, skin, burn, beat, hurt or kill the family pet; often in front of the victim and her children.

Blame others- A batterer may blame the victim for anything/everything that he perceives as "going wrong". A batterer may also blame the victim for his feelings: "you hurt me… you made me… you caused me…you never listen…you’re stupid…you’re crazy", etc.

Sex- A batterer may restrain his victim against her will during sex. He may act out lurid fantasies when the victim is helpless. He may rape the victim by forcing sex while the victim is sleeping. He may demand sex when she is tired, ill or has just been battered.

History- A batterer has been abusive to other partners in the past.

Children- A batterer may expect children to perform beyond their capabilities and may punish them excessively. For example, a batterer may "whip" a 2-year-old for wetting his diaper. Additional control tactics a batterer may use with the children include:

Tactics during the relationship-

  1. Battering the victim in front of her children;
  2. Threatening to hurt or kill the victim in front of the children;
  3. Telling the children that the victim is responsible for her own abuse;
  4. "Justifying" his violence to the children;
  5. Telling the children that the victim is a horrid mother, stupid, trash, etc.;
  6. Employing other relatives (his) to speak badly of the victim to the children;
  7. Yelling at the victim when the children "misbehave" (bother him);
  8. Coercing/ manipulating the children into taking his side against the victim;
  9. Abusing or killing the children’s pet(s) in front of them;
  10. Using the children as his "confidants";
  11. Threatening to commit suicide;
  12. Withholding money for the children’s needs;
  13. Physically and/or sexually abusing the children;
  14. Threatening to take the children away from their mother;
  15. Driving recklessly and/or when intoxicated with the children and/or the victim in the vehicle with him;
  16. Abusing drugs and/or alcohol in front of the children; and,
  17. Coming home drunk, high, incapacitated.

Tactics after separation-

  1. Asking the children intrusive questions about their mother;
  2. Asking the children who the mother is "seeing";
  3. Blaming the victim for the breakup of his family;
  4. Telling the children that there cannot be a "family" because of the victim;
  5. Talking about all the horrible things the victim did to cause the breakup;
  6. Calling the victim’s residence constantly to "speak with his children";
  7. Showing up unexpectedly to see his children;
  8. Criticizing/ demeaning/insulting victim’s new partner;
  9. Intimidating and/or harassing the victim’s new partner;
  10. Withholding child support and blaming the victim;
  11. Telling the children that he does pay their support, but the victim wastes it;
  12. Showering the children with gifts, allowing them to stay up to all hours, and eat nothing but junk food while visiting him;
  13. Undermining the victim’s rules for the children;
  14. Picking up the children at school without her knowledge;
  15. Keeping children longer than agreed upon;
  16. Abducting the children;
  17. Not showing up for agreed upon visitations and then blaming the victim for the "mix-up";
  18. Blaming the victim for any emotional/ health problems of the children;
  19. Telling the children that their mother, is a drunk, druggie, nuts, a whore;
  20. Making frequent court dates to challenge the custody arrangements;
  21. Telling the children that their mother doesn’t want them, she only wants to make him suffer;
  22. Physically and/or sexually abusing the children when they are visiting him and then threatening them if they tell their mother;
  23. Abusing his new partner in front of the children; and,
  24. Changing visitation plans suddenly and/or frequently and blaming the victim.

Information obtained in part from Wellesley College and the City of Kent, WA Domestic Violence Initiative and CBJ Law Department at

For additional information please see:

What’s it like to be partnered with an abusive man?

You are so stupid!
I love you

You’re a fat, ugly pig.
I love you

You screw up every damned thing you touch!
I love you

You’re crazier than hell!
I love you

You walk out that door and I’ll kill you.
I love you

I warned you bitch.
I love you

You’ll never get these kids!
I love you

You’ll never get a single dime of my money!
I love you

If you would have just shut your mouth!
I love you

It never stops…

For additional information please see:



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