Who are the Abusers?

Who are the domestic violence abusers? What makes them tick? Is there any way of recognising someone who perpetrates domestic abuse? Can a 'normal' person suddenly become abusive? Can they be helped and will they stop abusing or is it likely to just get worse? Do they suffer from mental illness or personality disorders?

After the more dramatic and publicised Domestic Abuse stories hit the headlines, one often hears comments such as "what sort of Monster would do that" or "Nobody I know would do that sort of thing!". The assumption seems to be that all abusers walk around with a big A for 'abuser' on their forehead, are easily discernable by anyone 'normal' and always comply with the stereotypical image.

In actual fact one of the main problems encountered by victims, friends, family and various agencies dealing with the consequences of an abusive relationship, is how 'normal' the perpetrators of domestic violence seem, how unlike the image so frequently portrayed by the media. In much the same way as we have a mental image of the 'stranger' on the street we have to be wary of as children, we grow up with an image in our minds of the sort of looks, gender, class and behaviour or other criteria by which we might expect to be able to recognise abusers. The basic message though is that there are no definite criteria which allow us to instantly recognise a potential perpetrator of domestic violence, though there are warning signs of an abusive personality.

This section of Hidden Hurt tries to address the question of who the abuser actually is, are there any tell-tale signs which could indicate an abusive personality, how does an abusive relationship actually work, if you think you may be abusive, where do you get help, and above all, why does one person abuse another, and is there any hope of the abuse stopping?

Please click on the links below for some of the possible answers to these questions.

Sometimes we think of abuse as being singular, ie only one form of abuse taking place in a relationship, eg 'he is sexually abusive', or 'she is emotionally abusive'. In reality perpetrators will often use several different types of abusive behaviour to control and manipulate their partner. Abuse is not a one-off incident, but a systematic method of maintaining power and control within a relationship.

The Power and Control Wheel helps us to understand just how central the issues of power and control are no matter what form the abuse takes, and can also help us realise different areas in which abuse occurs. While the Cycle of Abuse looks at the phases typically experienced by someone suffering from domestic abuse.

The long-awaited book from our very own Steve from the Hidden Hurt Message Forum as finally arrived!


Have you ever gone out with someone who seemed perfect at first, but ended up being a nightmare? Do you find yourself falling in love but ending up feeling disrespected and used? Would you like to make sure that something like that never happens to you (or someone you care about) again? If so, this book is written for you. There are lots of books about how to tell if you're in an abusive relationship. This is book will keep you from getting into one in the first place. Jerk Radar will help you see how a Jerk takes advantage of common cultural expectations and romantic myths to blind you to his true intentions. It will give you concrete ways to test out his intentions in the course of a normal conversation. And the Jerk Radar Quiz provides an effective tool to screen every partner for Jerky tendencies well before obviously selfish behavior emerges. Full of true stories from abuse survivors, Jerk Radar pulls no punches in exposing what Jerks do and why we fall for it. This is a useful, down-to-earth, practical guide to avoiding a bad relationship instead of recovering from one. Read it today - it just may change your life!

To order in the US: Jerk Radar: How to Stop an Abusive Relationship Before It Starts

To order in the UK:Jerk Radar: How to Stop an Abusive Relationship Before It Starts

Steve McCrea, MS, has worked for over 20 years with survivors of domestic abuse and their children. He has participated in many local collaboartive projects on domestic abuse, and has provided community trainings on working effectively with domestic abuse survivors. He currently works as an advocate for children in the foster care system. He has volunteered for the past 9 years as facilitator for an on-line abuse survivor community, whose members contributed most of the stories in the book.

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Related Pages:

Recommended Reading:

Lundy Bancroft has written what is probably the most comprehensive and readable book on domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and the dynamics of abuse. This truly is a MUST READ for anyone seriously trying to understand domestic abuse and how to cope with an abusive relationship:

To order in the US: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

To order in the UK: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven is the book to accompany the Freedom Programme in the UK. This book should be compulsory in schools - the information is so clear and so obvious and such an eye-opener! After studying domestic violence issues for years, this is the one book which finally enabled me to click it all into place and answer all my whys. Just read it:

To order in the US: Living With the Dominator (Kindle version only - and well worth buying a Kindle just to get this book!)

To order in the UK: Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme: 1


Click on the donate botton below to support Hidden Hurt. Thanks you.

UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247

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