Profiles of an Abuser

Violence - Learned Behavior

General Information



Overview of Common Character Traits

  • Jealousy and may often imagine his partner is having affairs. 
  • Tries to isolate his partner. 
  • Tries to control his partner. 
  • Jekyll and Hyde personality. 
  • May have other problems with the law. 
  • Explosive temper and may fly into a rage without provocation. 
  • Tell his partner it is all her fault and projects own faults onto wife. 
  • Verbal assault (insults, putdowns, slanderous names) in addition to physical assault. 
  • Comes from a family where violence was practiced. 
  • May be more violent when partner is pregnant or soon after giving birth. 
  • Denies the beatings or their severity or seems not to remember. 
  • Will do whatever it takes to drive her away, then whatever it takes to get her  back:

  •           grab the children or apologize profusely,
              send her flowers,
              cry real tears,
              promise anything, and he knows exactly what she wants to hear: 
                      "I'll go to church with you" 
                       " I'll go to counseling"
                       "I'll stop drinking "
                       "I'll never hurt you again".......
Once the partner returns, performance is repeated: whatever it takes to  drive her away, followed by whatever it takes to get her back.

Back To Top


Men who abuse, fit no pre-conceived notion of how they should look and act. However, there are certain tendencies one can point out, and those will be pointed out in this article.

Some people would tend to think an abuser would be a big, loud-mouthed lazy sort of guy. The fact is, he can come from all walks of life, blue collar workers, professionals such as lawyers, doctors and even police officers.

Men who abuse tend to be traditional in their attitudes in regards to male and female roles. They are usually non-assertive and for the most part, keep their feelings locked inside. They may have very poor communication skills, and be basically insecure persons.

The abuser may have learned the violence in his childhood home and carried it through as a way of life.

He is usually a very jealous person, often imagining his partner is having an affair. He often accuses her of such and this may precipitate a violent act. He tries to isolate his partner, not wanting her to go out or have friends. Some men will not even allow their partners to go grocery shopping. The abuser tries to control her, telling her what to wear, what not to wear etc.

The abuser is often described as having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. He can be very personable at times and, to people on the outside, he may seem to be a great guy.

He has an explosive temper and flies into a rage without provocation. In addition to physical assaults, he verbally assaults with insults, put-downs, etc. He tells her it is her fault, projecting his own faults onto her. For some reason, he may be more violent when his wife is pregnant or soon after she gives birth.

He will deny the abuse and its severity and sometimes claims he does not remember. He will do whatever it takes to drive her away, then whatever it takes to get her back; grab the children, apologize profusely, send her flowers, cry real tears, promise her anything, and he knows exactly what she wants to hear. "I'll stop drinking, go for counseling, I'll never hurt you again." 

What can be done to help these men keep the promises they make? There is something that is being done throughout Canada and the United States and has proven to be successful. Group Therapy Programs for men with abusive behavior.

The goals of the participants of such programs, are to end abusive behavior, learn to express anger in a constructive way, and to learn better communication and problem solving skills. Realistically, we have to understand the habits and attitudes of a lifetime cannot be totally changed after one or even two six-week therapy sessions, but we must recognize that these men will have gained significant insights and tools so they can continue to change and develop into a non-violent person.

Back to Top

Violence A Learned Behavior

Canadian statistics indicates one in six women living with a man is abused. The majority of these women have children who also feel the repercussions of the abuse experienced by their mothers.

Research has found that children who witness violence are at risk of becoming abusers in later life, or they come to accept abuse as a normal part of life. There are also indicators that these children are more likely to exhibit criminal or violent behavior outside the home.

Many of these children show above average stress-related physical or emotional symptoms and, consequently, may have problems in school. Little boys sometimes become aggressive towards others, especially their mothers.

These children are caught up in what is known as the vicious cycle syndrome. Since violence is generational, it seems the obvious solution is to break the cycle. However obvious the solution is it becomes a monumental task. How do we break the cycle?

We believe education is the key. We have to educate children as what is, and what is not, acceptable behavior in the home. We have to bring them up without stereotyping male and female roles and should not even have to address equality of the sexes. This equality hopefully will be an intricate part of their lives.

Children today are being educated on the prevention of sexual abuse, how to protect themselves from strangers. Why is it we are doing very little to protect them from violence in their own homes?

It is important to recognize the great potential in children for change. Some children do reject the violence. We can help them by teaching them what they see is wrong.

Children offer the best chance of breaking the cycle of violence. They are our future.

Back to Top

If you need us ... we are:
Committee on Family Violence
Transition House

Questions/Comments about the site email to: Donna Leonard