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Warning Signs That A Man May Become A Batterer

by Dave Decker, M.A.

The following is a list of warning signs that often indicate that a man is at-risk to become abusive with his female partner. These signs are not, in and of themselves, a guarantee that a man will become a batterer. But they are, in fact, "red flags" that a woman should not minimize early in a relationship. They are divided into high-risk markers and other warning signs.

High-Risk Markers:

  1. He breaks, throws or hits things when he is angry
  2. He has a history of vandalism when he was young
  3. He has been physically violent with other men
  4. He has been arrested for offenses like disorderly conduct or assault
  5. He has been abusive with previous partners but excuses it by talking about how badly she treated him
  6. His friends and family think of him as a "hot-head"
  7. He demands sex from you
  8. He becomes physically forceful during sex and ignores your requests to stop hurting you
  9. When he uses alcohol or drugs, he becomes negative, cruel, or hostile
  10. He experienced or witnessed violence and abuse in his home as a child
  11. He is or has been cruel to animals
  12. He harshly disciplines or is cruel to children

Other Warning Signs:

  1. He becomes explosively angry and verbally abusive when he is around you even though his explosiveness might not be directed at you personally
  2. He is overly sensitive and easily irritated by frustrations that are a part of everyday life
  3. He seems like a "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" and his moods change abruptly, often for no apparent reason
  4. He becomes aggressive and hostile when driving
  5. He makes threats to hurt others and then dismisses them by saying "Everybody thinks/ talks that way"
  6. He minimizes his behavior or becomes defensive when confronted about how he experiences and expresses his anger
  7. He uses his alcohol or drug abuse to excuse his offensive and hurtful behavior
  8. He is self-absorbed and self-centered and has difficulty showing empathy and compassion for others
  9. He frequently struggles with low self-esteem and negativity, generally sees himself as a "victim," and tends to blame others for most or all of his feelings, problems, and life issues
  10. He becomes jealous of anyone and anything that takes your time away from the relationship
  11. He is very possessive and tries to make you feel guilty if you don't want to be with him
  12. He may think and say to you that your friends and family don't really like him and encourages you to spend less time with them
  13. He becomes very controlling about where you go, who you see, what you wear, what you think and say, and other areas of who you are
  14. He often discounts your feelings by not listening or talking over you
  15. He refuses to accept "no's" from you and limits you have set
  16. He acts as if he's always "right" and is intolerant of differences and other perspectives
  17. At the beginning of the relationship, he pushes for an "instant" involvement and pressures prematurely for an exclusive commitment
  18. He makes it clear, early on in the relationship, that he expects that you will "always be with him"
  19. Since he views men as superior to and more competent than women, he feels entitled to be "in charge" in the relationship
  20. He strongly subscribes to rigid and stereotypical gender roles for men and women

© 1987 David J. Decker, MA, LP
Phone: 612-725-8402 or 651-646-4325 -






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