Domestic violence explained.
Men who batter rarely do it once, even if they are rich and famous. So if you're in a relationship with a guy who has pushed, hit or slapped you once, take it as a warning sign. You can expect him to do it again and again.
Here's everything you need to know about batterers, from domestic violence experts Diann Ackard, a psychologist on the board of Break the Cycle (an organization specializing in the treatment of domestic abuse), and Candice Hopkins, director of Love is Respect (the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline).
1. Batterers have an intense need to control the women they love.
The biggest misconception about these guys is that they have "anger management" issues. They don't. They don't blow up at work or at the driver who cuts into their lane. Instead, they have an overwhelming need to control their loved one — how she dresses, where she goes and whom she talks to.
That's why, before they actually start using physical violence to stay in control, they are often constantly phoning and text messaging the object of their affections so they know exactly what she's doing at all times.
2. Batterers do genuinely love the women they beat up.
In fact, they are often obsessively in love with their girlfriends or wives, which makes them even more jealous and controlling — they just don't know the proper way to express it. They most likely grew up in a home where there was violence.
3. Batterers actually blame their girlfriends for forcing them to be violent.
A batterer will tell himself and his girlfriend that SHE provoked the violence by looking at another guy, wearing a skirt that's too short or not cleaning up the kitchen fast enough.
4. Women blame themselves for provoking their boyfriends.
They get brainwashed into believing that they've done something wrong. "It was my fault for leading him to think I was cheating."
5. When batterers apologize, it's another form of taking control.
Guys who beat up their girlfriends can be dramatically remorseful — crying, begging for forgiveness and promising to never become violent again. Flowers and gifts can be typical. The apologies can seem so genuine that a battered girlfriend gets completely seduced back into continuing the relationship.
6. Guys who batter are insecure and have poor impulse control.
It's weird. They can seem completely normal and stable at times. At work, they can present themselves as completely nice guys. It's the fear of losing their girlfriend or being unable to control her that leads to the intense outbursts of rage and violence.
7. When guys batter, they feel entitled to do it.
They believe they have the right to use whatever means necessary to take control of the situation. If police arrive, they aren't ashamed of their behavior; they feel justified (i.e., "You deserved it — you were behaving like a slut").
8. If your boyfriend is violent, it's unlikely he will be cured.
Most batterers don't get the treatment they need in order to stop. They don't want help because they believe they are in the right. Furthermore, the beatings are likely to escalate over time. Ask for help from your close friends, family or a domestic abuse organization, and make a plan to leave ASAP.
If you're seeking help with an abusive spouse or boyfriend, call 911 or the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. Or visit Love is Respect from 4 PM to midnight for a live, online chat. For more information on dating abuse, visit The Safe Space and Break the Cycle.