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Who Are the Abusers in Domestic Violence?

Abusers don’t wear signs that say, “I’m an abuser.” That’s because anyone could be an abuser. Domestic violence abusers aren’t more likely to be one type of person over another.

A person who engages in domestic abuse or domestic violence can be a doctor, lawyer, judge, nurse, plumber, policeman, clergyman, mechanic, janitor, or the unemployed. They could be white, black, Asian, Hispanic or Native American. They may have had five previous spouses, or may never have been married.

However, research shows that abusers are likely to have some common characteristics.

(Need help for domestic violence? Please call toll-free: 800-799-7233 (SAFE).)

In general, some of the general characteristics shared by abusers include:

  • Are less educated than the abused partner.
  • Come from a lower socioeconomic group than the abused partner.
  • Need great amounts of attention.
  • Are possessive, jealous and controlling of their partner.
  • Fear being abandoned by the partner.
  • Are emotionally dependent on the partner.
  • Have low self-esteem.
  • Have rigid expectations of the relationship.
  • Have poor impulse control and low frustration tolerance.
  • Are prone to explosive rage.
  • Use children to exert power over partner.
  • Blame their partners for their own abusive behavior.
  • Lie to keep the victim psychologically off-balance.
  • Manipulate the victim and others to get on their good side.
  • If a man is abusing a woman, he often has very traditional beliefs about the roles of men and women.

You may recognize these signs in your partner or your spouse — or that of a friend’s. If you do, be sensitive to other signs that may suggest a person crossing the line from arguing to hitting. It may help to recognize the signs of domestic violence, because abuse isn’t just physical — it can be sexual or emotional as well.

Nobody deserves to be abused, and nobody deserves to be afraid in their own relationship. If you’re afraid or the victim of abuse, please get help. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline today toll-free at 800-799-7233. They also have great resources for recognizing the signs of abuse.

Who Are the Abusers in Domestic Violence?

Toby D. Goldsmith, MD

APA Reference
Goldsmith, T. (2018). Who Are the Abusers in Domestic Violence?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.