Characteristics of Battered Women

The Five Main Characteristics of Battered Women

  1. Accepts blame for her abuse:
    “In reality a woman has no control over her abusive partner’s behavior. No matter what she does or does not do, the batterer chooses to hurt her.” In spite of this truth, “the batterer works hard to convince the woman the abuse is her fault.” His blaming escalates until she ‘can do nothing right’, and she often begins to believe she actually causes his abusive behavior.
  2. Lowered self-esteem:
    This occurs through constant devaluing and shaming by the partner. Women eventually come to believe their partner is right – they are inadequate in almost every aspect of their lives.
  3. Guilt:
    When a woman experiences a sense of almost constant failure and is not allowed to express her feelings or frustrations, her inability to express herself leads to anger. If there is no place for her to express her feelings, especially anger, she usually turns it on herself. This often becomes guilt, and she feels guilty for almost any behavior. Some battered women turn the anger back toward the abuser or to other family members.
  4. Feelings of hopelessness and passivity:
    Over time women who are blamed, constantly belittled, and not allowed to express their feelings, become hopeless and passive. They may even be unable to act, make decisions, or think through problems. What appears to be complete docility is in effect a survival strategy which includes denial, attentiveness to the batterer’s wants, and fondness mixed with fear (for the abuser), fear of interference by authorities, and adoption of his perspective.
  5. Denial and Minimization of Abuse:
    Women may “turn off” their feelings in order to cope with everyday life, and use denial to cope. Such denial may include:

    1. assumption the batterer is a good man whose actions stem from problems she can help him solve,
    2. denying the abuse occurred, denying the batterer is responsible for the abuse, saying external forces always cause it,
    3. believing she is the reason for the abuse and deserves the punishment,
    4. denying she could survive without him,
    5. believing marriage/religious vows are more important than her personal well being.

(From When Violence Begins at Home by Dr. K. J. Wilson, a formerly battered woman)

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