Characteristics of Abusers

How do you recognize someone who abuses others?  Do people who abuse others have certain characteristics and do they have certain behaviors in common?   Many studies have shown that there is quite a bit of commonality within this group of people, be they verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional batterers.  These are listed here.  Most of the items will make the assumption that men are the batterers because the heavy majority is men (approx. 85%) but there are women who abuse as well and these characteristics typically hold true for them also. 

Annually, compared to males, females experienced over 10 times as many incidents of domestic violence. On average each year, women experienced 572,032 violent victimizations at the hands of a domestic partner, compared to 48,983 incidents committed against men. (Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report,” January 1994, p. 6). 

The following characteristics are also present in verbal and emotional abusers, but they may not be quite as pronounced.

·         Rigid sex roles, believes men are superior and should be in charge of women.  This person will often refer to women in disrespectful ways.  Abusers are often obsessive about appearing to be masculine and they tend to hold very high and rigid rules about how they should act because they are the man – often leading them to feel the need to dominate and control and to expect their word and their needs to be catered to at all times, including in the bedroom. These abusers see women as unintelligent, inferior, responsible for menial tasks, and less than whole without the relationship. They will often tell women that no one else would want them you.  They will remind women of their “provider role” and use guilt and convoluted “logic” to pressure women to into servile behaviors.  In many churches today, Scriptures are taken out of context and twisted in order to pressure women into subservient roles and to place men into superior roles.

This is not just taught in fringe churches, but in many mainstream churches.  Two examples are:

Man was made to manifest God’s authority. Woman was made to manifest man’s authority. The woman is a vice-regent, if you will, who rules in the place of man, as it were, or carries out man’s will as man rules in the place of God and carries out God’s will. Man, in a sense, shines with the direct light of God, while woman shines with the derived light from man.” John MacArthur

“I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.” Paige Patterson

·         General possessiveness and jealousy, which can reach pathological levels.  Abusers often say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it’s a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. In a healthy relationship, the partners trust each other unless one of them has legitimately done something to break that trust. The Bible says that jealousy is like a torrent if it’s not tamed (Prov. 27:4).  Obsessive consuming “love” easily produces a powerful jealousy that is “as cruel as a grave.” (Song 8:6)  Abusers often accuse partners of having affairs.

·         Becoming involved in a relationship quickly.  Abusers come on quickly claiming “love at first sight”, and using flattery such as “you are the only person I could ever talk to” or “I have never felt loved like this by anyone”.  

·         Tries to isolate partner from friends, family, and co-workers.  Frequently, an abusive person tries to cut the partner off from all resources.  Abusers will accuse people who are supportive of causing trouble, and may restrict use of the phone. They can gradually isolate you from all of your friends. They may not let you use a car (or have one that is reliable), and may try to keep you from working or going to school. Sometimes this process can take years and then suddenly a victim looks up and realizes that they’ve been moved across the country, away from family, friends and a support system and without a job or resources of their own – making them completely isolated and totally dependent on the abuser. 

·         Difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings.  Some people talk with their words, while others talk with their actions (fists). Some may use words to batter rather than express their own feelings.  Batterers typically have trouble with discussing “feelings”, especially very strong ones like anger or frustration. Some may feel that “having feelings” and talking out problems goes against the stereotyped role that they have bought into (see above). Without the skills or self-permission to express themselves in constructive ways (ways that feels uncomfortable or where they feel inadequate), they often lash out with violence.

  • May not feel guilty or ashamed, minimizes or denies the abuse.
  • May have affairs.
  • Witnessed/experienced family violence while growing up
  • Unrealistic expectations of self, partner, family, etc. 
  • “Jekyll and Hyde” personality.  Often the most frustrating thing for the victim, many abusers are excellent actors.  This often makes it difficult for a victim to reach out for support from friends and family, because those persons may try to talk the victim out of thinking that their spouse is an abuser. It’s even MORE frustrating for the victim when members of their support system try to turn the tables and say things like “well, just don’t make him mad” or “maybe you just need to pray and be more submissive.”   They’re putting the blame on the VICTIM and not on the offender where it belongs!  
  • Rigid style of demanding and controlling behaviors.  Often at the beginning, an abuser will say that this behavior is because they are concerned for your safety, a need for you to use time well or to make good decisions. Abusers will be angry if you are “late” coming back from the store or an appointment; you might be questioned closely about where you went, who you talked to. These types of behaviors mimic the parent/child relationship and thus by definition cannot be part of an equal and healthy relationship.
  • May display addictive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, overeating, gambling).
  • Puts blame on spouse/companion and accepts little responsibility for own behavior.  Commonly, batterers use the actions of others as excuses for their own behavior. Abusive people will might say, “you made me mad” and “I can’t help being angry”. Although they actually make the decision about how they think or feel, they will use feelings to manipulate people. Abusers see themselves as the “victim” in the relationship, and do not take responsibility for their own feelings or behaviors.
  • Is extremely manipulative.
  • If in counseling, is primarily interested in keeping partner in the relationship, not in changing self.
  • Will end counseling as soon as partner returns or a new relationship is established.

The Bible has a lot to say about violent people:

Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Malachi 2:16-17 “I hate […] a man’s covering his wife with violence, as well as with his garment.” says the Lord Almighty….”You have wearied the Lord with your words.” “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying “all who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”. (NIV alternate translation)

James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Some references:;;   Partner Abuse: Prisoners of Fear  ; Evans, Patricia 2001, Controlling People;


Prevalence of Domestic Abuse

I’ve been asked by a certain forum (Equality Central where they make even comps feel welcome 🙂 ) to write a series of articles related to domestic abuse and its relationship to certain wrong teachings of Scripture (patriocentricity/complementarian of the extreme sort).  I feel this is a relavent topic for our day and time and, as I have become aware of more and more unbiblical teachings of this sort creeping into our churches, believe it is imperative to make others aware of the dangers.  If you are interested in a good discussion on patriocentricity check out True Womanhood and read the Praire Muffin Manifesto discussion.

I’ve decided to post the series of articles here as well as I write them for those of you who wish to read them.  Please feel free to comment, etc. as you feel led.  I am very interested in hearing other’s views, experiences, ideas, etc.

The Bible states that all human beings, male and female, are made in the image of God, and have the same dignity and value in God’s sight (Genesis 1:26-27, 5:2-3; Acts 17:25-26; James 3:9). Believers are commanded to respect and honor each other and to be concerned with each other’s welfare (Romans 12:10-16; 15:1-2; Galatians 6:2; Colossians 3:11).  Abuse is the antithesis of these statements. 

In being asked to develop posts on abuse and abuse related issues as they pertain to a Biblical equality point of view, it occurred to me that many who might be reading this will not be as familiar as I am with the prevalence of abuse.  It’s difficult to comprehend just how big a problem it is in our country unless you are faced with the various people from all walks of life which are affected by it.   I thought I would post some statistics from the US Department of Justice as it relates to the US.  For those of you in other countries, let me know if you’re interested and I’ll research those as well.  Let me point out that these statistics only include reported physical abuse and not emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.

Statistics About Domestic Abuse

Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.
Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted and beaten.
4,000,000 women a year are assaulted by their partners.

In the United States, a woman is more likely to be assaulted, injured, raped, or killed by a male partner than by any other type of assailant.

Every day, 4 women are murdered by boyfriends or husbands.

Prison terms for killing husbands are twice as long as for killing wives.

93% of women who killed their mates had been battered by them. 67% killed them to protect themselves and their children at the moment of murder.

20% of all crime is domestic abuse.

70% of men who batter their partners either sexually or physically abuse their children.

Domestic violence is the number one cause of emergency room visits by women.

73% of the battered women seeking emergency medical services have already separated from the abuser.

Women are most likely to be killed when attempting to leave the abuser. In fact, they’re at a 75% higher risk than those who stay.

The number-one cause of women’s injuries is abuse at home. This abuse happens more often than car accidents, mugging, and rape combined.

Up to 37% of all women experience battering. This is an estimated 566,000 women in Minnesota alone.

Battering often occurs during pregnancy. One study found that 37% of pregnant women, across all class, race, and educational lines, were physically abused during pregnancy.

60% of all battered women are beaten while they are pregnant.

34% of the female homicide victims over age 15 are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends.

2/3 of all marriages will experience domestic violence at least once.

Weapons are used in 30% of domestic violence incidents.

Approximately 1,155,600 adult American women have been victims of one or more forcible rapes by their husbands.

Over 90% of murder-suicides involving couples are perpetrated by the man. 19-26% of male spouse-murderers committed suicide.

When only spouse abuse was considered, divorced or separated men committed 79% of the assaults and husbands committed 21%.

Abusive husbands and lovers harass 74% of employed battered women at work, either in person or over the telephone, causing 20% to lose their jobs.

Physical violence in dating relationships ranges from 20-35%.

It is estimated that between 20% to 52% of high school and college age dating couples have engaged in physical abuse.

More than 50% of child abductions result from domestic violence.

Injuries that battered women receive are at least as serious as injuries suffered in 90% of violent felony crimes.

In 1991, only 17 states kept data on reported domestic violence offenses. These reports were limited to murder, rape, robbery, and serious bodily injury.

More than half of battered women stay with their batterer because they do not feel that they can support themselves and their children alone.

In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are abused at a rate 1,500% higher than the national average.

Up to 64% of hospitalized female psychiatric patients have histories of being physically abused as adults.

50% of the homeless women and children in the U.S. are fleeing abuse.

The amount spent to shelter animals is three times the amount spent to provide emergency shelter to women from domestic abuse situations.




Polygamy and False Teachers

I’m still watching the news stories of the fallout from the raid on the polygamous compound in TX.  The mothers are upset because they’ve been separated from their children, the children are upset that they have been taken from their homes and family, and it seems everyone has strong feelings and opinions about what needs to be done.  All of us “good Christians” find it difficult to understand how these people have gone so far off track and ended up in this position.  Yet, God’s Word discusses the dangers of false teachings and tells us many times how to protect ourselves from them because as Jude 4 says, “certain men have crept in unnoticed.”  Jude continues telling us about these men by stating these men “long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (vs.4)

These are men who profess they are Christians but do not hold to the teachings of Christ.  They deny the unique deity of Christ.  Does this sound familiar to you who are knowledgeable of some of the teachings of the FLDS?  They claim to be Christians yet the men believe they are working towards godhood and are multiplying wives to themselves in order to populate their own planets when they become these gods.  It would be better for them to pay close attention to the warning in Jude 4.  They are destined for judgment and I can guarantee it will not be in front of Joseph Smith as they teach. 

The sin of turning the grace of God into lewdness is specifically mentioned in this verse.  How interesting to me to see that the leaders of FLDS spend a great deal of teaching, effort, and time in their polygamous lifestyle, making that a matter of salvation.  In order to become a god, a man is required to have at least 3 wives.   It’s not as if they are even taking wives who are at least adults.  They prefer young teen girls.  To develop and maintain a doctrine that comprises the majority of the foundation on which a religion is built which consists of making sex possible for men with as many women as possible all in the name of Christ seems to be the very definition of turning the grace of God into lewdness.

Jude 8 states, “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.”  Jude is describing men like these polygamists who defile their bodies by engaging in the pleasures of the world – who dream and covet the opposite sex – whose thoughts and dreams consist of sexual misbehavior.  Their “prophet,” Warren Jeffs, believes he has the authority to decide which men get to go to heaven and the husbands have the authority to decide which wives get to go.  What a rejection of Christ’s authority!!!  These men also use their dreams and visions to control their followers and secure their loyalty.  They would do well to look to the warnings in Jude that, if God did not spare the angels or those in Sodom and Gomorrah, neither will he spare these false teachers.

For the rest of us,  Jude 20-25 tells us how to avoid falling into false teachings: “But you, Beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, amen.”

Polygamy and God’s Will

In the news today, 183 women and children were taken from a ranch in Texas linked to polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  In November, Jeffs was sentenced in a Utah court to 10 years to life in prison as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old first cousin.  He’s currently in jail in AZ awaiting trial for similar things in that state.

I’ve been following Jeffs’ story for quite some time now, watching from the beginning when he was first accused in Utah.  In 2006, he was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list when he attempted to flee from prosecution.  Jeffs is considered to be the prophet of a Mormon fundamentalist group.  Jeff’s father, Rulon T. Jeffs, had been the group’s prophet for 15 years before his death. He died at the age of 92, leaving an estimated 75 widows and 65 children.  According to former followers, the prophet is considered to be God’s mouthpiece on earth. It is believed that God speaks directly to Warren Jeffs to reveal His will. And through the prophet, God directs which male members are worthy of entry into heaven (females are invited into heaven by satisfied husbands).

Before we, as mainstream evangelical Christians, consign this to just another cult teaching, we need to recognize that so-called Christian polygamy is on the rise.  These are people who claim to be conservative, evangelical Christians who do not hold to a Mormon belief.  Mark Henkel, founder of, (a pro-polygamy site) estimates that 50,000 Christians have become polygamists since the movement (unconnected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) began around 12 years ago.

How different from the plan of God!  God’s standard is clear from the beginning.  In verse 23 of Genesis 2, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’.”  She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.”  God’s standard for marriage is found in verse 24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”  How can a man and woman and woman and woman be one flesh?

The polygamy in the Bible was not God’s will – He allowed it and He described it – but it was never His plan or His will.  God said in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” The fact that godly men like Abraham, David, Solomon, and others, had more than one wife, was not directed by God, but was permitted by Him, as Christ said about divorce. But God also reminds us concerning Israel in the wilderness, “They soon forgot His works; they waited not for his counsel. But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:13-15).