Leonie Morris (Auckland Women’s Centre) has sent a timely link to a paper on “Understanding the Batterer in Custody and Visitation Disputes”. It’s by Lundy Bancroft, who had ten years of experience working as a counselor and supervisor in programs for abusive men, involving contact with some 1500 abusers, and hundreds of their victims, over that period. During the first few years he worked almost exclusively with voluntary clients, and during the latter period worked primarily with court-mandated ones. This article also draws from numerous published studies.
After stating "I have chosen for reasons of ease to refer to the abuser as "he" and the victim as "she," but I am aware that there is a small percentage of cases of domestic violence to which this language does not apply", he points out that:
"Batterers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education. They have the full range of personality types, from mild and mousy to loud and aggressive. They are difficult to profile psychologically; they frequently fare well in psychological testing, often better than their victims do. People outside of a batterer’s immediate family do not generally perceive him as an abusive person, or even as an especially angry one. They are as likely to be very popular as they are to be “losers,” and they may be visible in their communities for their professional success and for their civic involvement. Most friends, family, and associates in a batterer’s life find it jarring when they hear what he has done, and may deny that he is capable of those acts….”
“Battering is a learned behavior, with its roots in attitudes and belief-systems that are reinforced by the batterer’s social world. The problem is specifically linked to how the abuser formulates the concepts of relationship and family; in other words, within those realms he believes in his right to have his needs come first, and to be in control of the conduct (and often even of the feelings) of others. A recent research study showed that two factors, the belief that battering is justified and the presence of peers who support abusiveness, are the single greatest predictors of which men will batter; these two had a considerably greater impact than whether or not the man was exposed to domestic violence as a child..."
“Efforts to find common ground among battered women from the point of view of background or personality type have been largely unsuccessful... just as they have been with batterers. Service providers who assume that the victim must have had pre-existing problems of her own can make counterproductive interventions, as pathologizing of the victim can lead to re-injury.”