Traits and Characteristics of Abusers

  • Overly attentive; initially very kind and thoughtful; attempts to “sweep victim off her feet.”

  • Wants victim to share secrets with him; he tells her his “secrets.” This builds the bond between the two of them. (He will use this information against her later on.)

  • Extreme or morbid jealousy. (“If I can’t have you, no one can.”) Different from low-level jealousy that most people experience at some point. He excuses his jealousy by claiming that he is being “protective of her.” Being protective and being controlling are very different.

  • Problems with fears of abandonment, loss of control (of her and children, in particular), dependency, insecurity and intimacy.

  • Quick involvement, unrealistic expectations.

  • Rigid, judgmental, intolerant, quick-tempered.

  • Dual personality (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and a commitment to having others see him as a “nice guy.”

  • Unable to accept responsibility for his controlling behavior; places blame on her or others.

  • Uses coercion and intimidation to gain and maintain control over her.

  • Strong sense of entitlement, expectation that things will go his way because he is the man. Feels victimized when things do not go the way he expects they will and uses that sense of victimization to justify his actions.

  • Uses religion to justify his superior and her subordinate status.

  • Degrades/controls her as a way to boost his sense of self.

  • Highly manipulative with everyone, especially the victim, the children and anyone who might come between them (law enforcement, judges, probation, etc.)

  • Exposure to domestic violence as a child (violence and aggression have been normalized).

  • Abuser may have substance abuse problems, but this is not an excuse for his abuse. Substance abuse exacerbates a problem that is already there.    

  • Fascination with firearms. Abusers often use and rely on firearms to terrorize their victims, and firearms are used in ______% of DV homicides.


Kit Gruelle

                                         What Is Safety Planning?

The National Domestic Violence Helpline can help you with safety planning.

  • A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.

  • At the hotline we safety plan with victims, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.

  • A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.

  • Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.​​

Safety Planning While Living with an Abusive Partner.

Safety Planning with Children.

Safety Planning with Pets.

Safety Planning During Pregnancy.

   It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.....

   In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a      relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.

If you’re beginning to feel as if your partner or a loved one’s partner is becoming abusive, there are a few behaviors that you can look out for. Watch out for these red flags and if you’re experiencing one or more of them in your relationship, call the hotline to talk about what’s going on.


If you need help, call the Domestic Violence Hotline  

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

TTY 1-800-787-3224