POLICE Department

Family Violence Unit - Why Doesn't The Violence Stop

The Texas Department of Human Services estimates that there were nearly 900,000 victims of domestic violence in Texas last year. In 2002, more than two women every week were killed by their intimate partner.

Some batterers grew up in environments where hitting was an acceptable way to deal with anger and learned that it was okay to beat their family members. In healthy relationships, there are times when partners disagree and become angry at each other, but there is absolutely no excuse or provocation that would justify one partner hurting the other partner.

Those who batter are not mentally ill or out of control; they choose to be violent. They believe they are "entitled" to behave however they choose by justifying why they should react violently and by giving themselves permission to be violent, even though deep down inside they know violence is wrong. When things upset them at work or outside the home they behave appropriately which demonstrates that they know violence is socially unacceptable. There are certain characteristics that are present in batterers:

  • extreme jealousy (follows partner, opens mail, checks odometer…)
  • low self-esteem (must be in control, bully…)
  • traditionalist views (stereotypical masculine sex role)
  • blaming others for his actions (blames it on drinking, stress…)
  • stress (inability to deal with stress effectively)
  • denial (minimizes and denies the seriousness of the violence)
  • believes in violence (uses violence as problem solving technique)
  • history of abuse (may have grown up in a violent home)
  • substance abuse
  • anger (uses aggression and violence to express anger)
  • socially isolated (few friends)
  • uses sex (uses sex as act of aggression)
  • believes myths (the woman "caused" the violent behavior)

Alcohol and substance abuse is commonly believed as the cause for battering. Although there is a close connection with alcohol or substance abuse and violence, it is not the primary cause. For example, if a batterer arrives home intoxicated it is commonly the reason to start verbal arguments that may eventually lead to battering. Victims believe that if the abuser would stop drinking, the violence will stop, but there are batterers who are not alcohol or substance abusers and there are those who are alcohol or substance abusers who do not batter.

Alcohol and substance abuse intensifies the severity and frequency of family violence and is involved in many family violence reports. Alcohol and substance abuse can also be a method used by the batterer to control aggression and avoid hitting or vice-versa. Another example would be a batterer who is an alcoholic, completes a rehabilitation program, but the battering continues, therefore, it demonstrates that substance abuse and family violence are two separate issues and each of those issues require separate methods of counseling. A person who abuses drugs or alcohol cannot be grouped as people who batter based solely on their addiction. It is however common for an abuser to use substance abuse as an excuse for his or her use of violence. For more detailed information on the male perspective on battering, please refer to the Links/Suggested Reading section under authors, Lundy Bancroft and Edward Gandolf.

There is little incentive or motivation for a batterer to change unless faced with consequences; perhaps the offender is arrested, the partner leaves them, or the individual is required or voluntarily attends an anger management program. For information on a program that is licensed with the state of Texas to assist batterer's find effective ways to communicate without violence, a batterer's intervention prevention program is highly recommended. Please refer to the community agencies section.