Abuser Characteristics
What Is the Abuser Seeking to Control?

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Itís no secret that abuse is about control. What might be less clear is what is the abuser trying to control. Is it NOW or LATER? In other words, is the abuser set on conquering the moment or is he/she plotting for a longer vision?

Intermittent Explosive Abuser

Some abusers lose it moment-to-moment and use their fury and violence to control the moment. They want to exert their will on what is happening now.

They tend to be flooded by their own inward implosion and their outburst aids them in releasing internal tension. These individuals will strike when life or their partner fails to serve up as they desire...what they desire, when and how they desire it. They usually do not impose a long-term agenda on their battering...as do their counterpart more sociopathic type abuser.

Sociopathic Abuser

The sociopathic abuser uses battering with a long-term agenda of controlling the ultimate destiny. For these abusers, the moment is simply a means to a larger end.

They strike to exert power over their victim to strategically create the end result of their campaign. These abusers are convincing and manipulative as they groom events to satisfy their long-range conquest.

Pit Bull Abuser

In other writings, I have elaborated on the difference between a pit bull versus a cobra batterer, as conceptualized by Drs. Jacobson and Gottman in the 90ís.

In short, pit bulls usually come from fathers who battered their mothers. They are immature, unpredictable, unrelenting and demanding of changes from their intimate partners. Many of these batterers are more likely to abuse alcohol.

They are emotionally dependent on their intimate partners, and need to dominate and control them. They are motivated by fear of abandonment, which produces jealous rage and a strong need to control their partnerís life.

When they strike, they are highly aroused. This is what primarily distinguishes them from their cobra counterparts. Their intimate partners are enraged and usually feel entrapped. Pit bulls are easier to leave, and are more dangerous after leaving in the long run.

Cobra Abusers

Cobras, on the other hand, often were abused as children by their parents. They are hedonistic, impulsive, antisocial, con artists, and they exploit and manipulate others. Cobras may use or become dependent on illegal drugs.

Their personal commitments are typically superficial. They do not fear abandonment but they will not, under any circumstances, be controlled. Cobras severely abuse their intimate partners to insure getting what they want when they want it.

When they strike, they are internally calm, contrary to the pit bull batterer. Cobras are very frightening, yet captivating to their intimate partners. They are harder to leave, and are more dangerous after leaving in the short run.

Abusers and Battering Goals

With respect to this short-range versus long-range vision, I trust it is clear to you that the pit bull is more of the intermittent explosive abuser striking in the moment for now. In contrast, the cobra more aptly characterizes the sociopathic long-range vision abuser. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek to understand the distinction described here as it could offer you insight into the dynamics endangering you.

For more information about abuser characteristics, visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Dr Jeanne King ó Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention


Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.