Profile of an Abuser

Profiles and Behaviours of an Abusive Partner

Emotionally and verbally abusive:

• He may use silence as a technique to manipulate you
• He may use silent phone calls to intimidate you, damage property or pets or deny you access to finances
• He may move things deliberately and then replace them, making you think you are crazy and forgetful
• He may refuse to call you by your name
• He may try to intimidate you by punching something close to you or driving dangerously, by breaking personal property, shouting in your face, pointing down at you, kicking walls or doors
• He may threaten to tell secrets to family/friends
• He may threaten to report you to social workers/authority figures.


• He is threatened by any close relationships you may have.
• He may want to always be alone with you.
• He may want to isolate you from your friends/family and will sabotage any arrangements.
• He may criticise, blame or point out ways in which friends have wronged you.
• He may use your heightened distress as proof to family/friends that you are depressed/mentally unwell, e.g. “she is the one with the problem.”
• He may accompany you to the GP stating how worried he is about your behavior.

Denial and minimising:

He may state you are overreacting to incidents which upset you – “you can’t take a joke.”
In response to aggression or violent incidents, he may state “I barely touched you.”


• This can be subtle, with you changing your behaviour without realising why.
• He may stalk or follow you or ring your house and hang up to see if you are at home.
• He may keep track of your time, demanding to know where you are.
• He may make you engage in activities you are not comfortable.
• In a crisis stage, he may use the situation to appear calm when the woman is distressed and accuse her of mental health issues to Gardaí/officials.

Use of Children:

• He may use children to relay messages to you.
• He may encourage them to call you names or get them to report back to him.
• He may refuse to communicate with you only through them.
• He may encourage them to abuse you physically and emotionally.
• He may use access as a way to harass you, e.g. not turn up for access, alter scheduled access times or refer back to court for the slightest alteration in schedule.

 Jealous and Possessive:

• He may show up somewhere you have said you will be and will call this surprising you.
• If you get angry, he will act as though you were guilty.
• He may invade your privacy by going through mail, mobile phone, wallet or eavesdropping on telephone conversations.
• Remember: Jealousy does not equal love.

Mood Swings/Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality:

• Everything is going fine and suddenly your partner is furious.
• Can be loving and supportive one minute and cold, hostile, accusing or distant the next or may remain distant and cold.

Use of sexual abuse:

• Even though you may have agreed on a cutoff point, you may find they do not respect the agreement
• When confronted, they will say you are overreacting
• Being forced to take part in sexual acts, rape
• Being exposed to sexually explicit material against one’s will
• Being denied access to contraception

Passionate: The abusive relationship may be intense and passionate. This intensity means someone is holding on too tightly.

Alcohol or drug user: The partner may blame substance as a built-in excuse. Remember: many people abuse alcohol or drugs and do not become violent.

Low self-esteem: (Whilst also displaying conceited, arrogant or extrovert mannerisms)

• He may challenge your choices or your career
• He may pressure you to quit your job or outside activities because he does not want you around members of the opposite sex and may want you to become financially dependent on him
• If you try to break up with him, may threaten to harm himself, attempt suicide.
• He may threaten to harm you or your family

Macho or super masculine

• May have strong views on how men and women should behave (e.g. a woman should be at home with her children)
• You will find yourself explaining yourself and making excuses, however, everything is black and white and he will not accept any reasoning
• He may act as if he is in charge and may want you to talk to him before making decisions about your activities or friends
• May push your boundaries by tickling you until you are uncomfortable or wrestling you in an aggressive manner he calls playful but you find painful or upsetting.

Trouble trusting others: (particularly you)

• he may say that he knows you would never be unfaithful, whilst accusing you of being attracted to other males or flirting
• He may state you are the only person who understands him
• he may have very few friends and find social occasions difficult (or refuse to engage in them)
• he may buy a mobile phone so they can always reach you. This can start fights if you don’t answer or call back straight away.

Blaming others: (may be subtle)

• Abusive partners will blame others for their mistakes or problems. E.g. “I love you so much I can’t help being jealous.”
• They may blame other stressors for a fight e.g. “my parents…nobody understands”

Use of physical abuse:

Violence progresses in a gradual way. It can start with emotional abuse and progresses to shoving, grabbing or restraining. The next step could be slapping, kicking or biting. Punching or choking may follow after which the abuse usually escalates to beatings with repeated kicks, slaps, punches, being shoved, scalded, choked and attacked with weapons. After the abuse are periods when the abuser can be attentive – “the honeymoon period.” In other cases, the abuse persists as emotional or psychological abuse or the level of this emotional abuse can intensify. Not all the above behaviours will be present. There are many ways that a person can be abusive, so this is a list that gives examples of abuse.

Once a partner is violent, he is usually violent again.


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