In contrast with the Duluth Model, the SAMHSA report identified three types of batterers:
- Psychopathic wife assaulters (about 40%). These men meet the diagnostic criteria for antisocial behavior, and are sometimes violent outside of the home. The prognosis for treatment is poor for this group. The report stated, “Psychopaths don’t look back. As a result, they never learn from past mistakes.”
- Overcontrolled assaultive males (about 30%). This group consists of men with an overriding need for control. They tend to be “perfectionistic” and “domineering.” They tend to use emotional abuse, including verbal attacks, harassment, and withholding of affection to “generate submission.” Overcontrolled assaulters are usually the most compliant clients in treatment.
- Cyclical/emotionally volatile wife abusers (about 30%). These men fear intimacy and suffer from recurrent feelings of abandonment and engulfment. They are overly dependent on their partners and, as a result, are literally “either at their wives’ knees or at their throats.” Common traits include “flat affect, noncommittal response, and limited emotional lexicon.” They are incapable of describing what they feel and tend to repeat the same complaints and accusations about their partners over and over again. However, it is this group of batterers who calculate exactly how severely they can injure their partners without leaving obvious signs of abuse. It is also this group who best fits the “phases of abuse” theory first described by Lenore Walker in her pioneering work on domestic violence. These men typically undergo a buildup of tension that explodes in an episode of acute battering and is followed by a remorseful apology and so-called “honeymoon period” of concern and attention.
The victim needs to become familiar with the batterers’ excuses for their behavior:
- Minimizing: “I only pushed her.” “She bruises easily.” “She exaggerates.”
- Citing good intentions: “She gets hysterical so I have to slap her to calm her down.”
- Use of alcohol and drugs: “I’m not myself when I drink.”
- Claiming loss of control: “Something snapped.” “I can only take so much.” “I was so angry, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
- Blaming the partner: “She drove me to it.” “She really knows how to get to me.”
- Blaming someone or something else: “I was raised that way.” “My probation officer is putting a lot of pressure on me.” “I’ve been out of work.”
Effective treatment for batterers needs to be:
- Client-centered — focused on meeting clients “where they are” and matching their needs with appropriate services as opposed to fitting clients into a predefined program; wraparound services follow the client
- Holistic — offering comprehensive services from a variety of agencies that are designed to respond to a client’s multiple needs: substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, domestic violence support, parenting skills training, housing
- Flexible — the service mix changes as the client’s needs change
- Collaborative — multiple agencies can work together freely on behalf of a client without having to consider agency funding or other administrative issues that may interfere with the assistance process
- Coordinated — individualized service plans are developed for each client and monitored via case management
- Accountable — encourages the client’s input to the comprehensive treatment plan, adheres to standards or accepted best practices for treatment, establishes and tracks qualitative and quantitative outcome measures, and evaluates services on the basis of client and community satisfaction.
If you or a loved one needs help, contact Jeff at (941) 586-0929
This information is from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.