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A Glimpse into Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence

No one is born destined to be violent to their intimate partner(s). A combination of personality factors, life experiences and exposures contribute to the learning of, and expression of these patterns of behaviour. Fortunately learned behaviours can be un-learned; too often unfortunately unaddressed partner violence results in physical injury, emotional debility and death. The article below is a very brief guideline to what makes the abusive partner tick, red flag behaviours and guidelines for interventions

RISK FACTORS- Imagine a set of scales and these factors as weights we put in the pan on one side. The more we add the greater the balance is tipped towards the possibility of the person being a perpetrator. In no way do any of these factors definitely create an abuser.

1] Witnessing domestic violence as a child- definitely the weightiest factor. Being exposed to domestic and/or community violence as a child has strong correlations with future violent acting out. Playing violent video games or watching violent TV causes immediate short term aggressive tendencies and acting out for approx 1 hour.

2] Disrupted attachment patterns in childhood. Seen when a child is moved from pillar to post, from various care givers and/or children’s homes or the child who has had one or both parents absent for frequent lengthy periods due to their illnesses, hospitalisations or imprisonment

3] Having low self esteem. Some may cover their sense of inadequacy by intimidation and belittling others

4] A lack of empathy. When it comes to emotions these individuals have real problems putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.

5] Being very emotionally dependent and attached to one’s partner, to the point of feeling insecure, indecisive or lost without their presence or approval

6] Holding traditional and rigid views of gender roles i.e. the ways we believe “men” and “women” should behave, especially ideas of men being dominant and controlling

7] Extreme jealousy. We all experience normal levels of jealousy but once this emotion is out of control, excessive or pathological, your partner will frequently voice feelings of mistrust of you, or accuse you of scheming or infidelity for no apparent reason. In very extreme cases your partner may refuse to allow you out of their sight.

ASSOCIATED FACTORS- These are factors which the perpetrator is currently facing which are experienced as “stressful” in that they produce feelings of  frustration , inadequacy and hopelessness. These negative feelings may spill over into the relationship with the partner increasing tension and triggering explosive behaviours.

1] Being poor. This is not necessarily being flat broke, but having insufficient resources to meet ones essential needs. It can be related to unemployment, retirement, demotion or work hour cutbacks.

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