Domestic Violence Perpetrators Share Personality Traits Across Both Genders

A new study conducted by the University of British Columbia looks at the characteristics and behavioral patterns of female perpetrators of domestic violence. Most studies of people who become abusive have looked predominantly, if not exclusively, at males. But a substantial number of women are harmful to those around them. According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, female batterers fall into the same three common categories that male batterers do. Some are violent and aggressive only in the relationship and have “generally normal” personalities in their outside social lives. Some have more volatile personalities and are “often violent outside the relationship.” And some show high levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Past studies have shown that a partner who experiences violence is more likely to behave violently in return. This only adds to the complicated emotions that survivors experience and hopefully work through with the help of a qualified therapist. Therapy for survivors of abuse is one of the most sensitive and essential types of therapy, as abuse in its many forms can have a complex, pronounced, and lasting impact on a person’s life, even decades after the abuse has ended. For those who experience some form of abuse early in life, they may not even recognize the abuse as such until well into adulthood.

Survivors of physical domestic violence, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse are at risk for a number of mental health issues. When working with a survivor of abuse therapist, clients may work through any combination of anxiety, depression, anger, shame, and dissociation (a feeling of emotional numbness). Post traumatic stress disorder and trust issues are also quite common for people who have survived abuse. The recent study identifying characteristics of female batterers highlights another challenged faced by some survivors of abuse. If a male is battered by a female, he may perceive an extra sense of social shame and a reluctance to admit what happened. But abuse is abuse, and it is important to seek qualified and appropriate therapy to address its complicated emotional and psychological fallout.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • MP

    MP

    August 12th, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    I know someone who is being abused by his wife for quite sometime now but is not speaking up due to shame.I feel sorry for the poor chap because not only is he suffering in his relationship but is also unable to get his plight heard by anyone.His wife controls his life and dictates each of his social interactions.Is there a way he can break free from all this?

  • defoe

    defoe

    August 13th, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    from the few cases that I have seen and heard of domestic abuse,the perpetrator is often a loser who cannot do anything in the outside world and so victimizes his/her partner to feel empowered.

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