As a childhood witness to domestic violence, a mental health practitioner and a student of aggression in its various forms, I believe I have a unique insight into the mind of the batterer. I philosophy believe that some aggression is born out of fear, anxiety and an erroneous assumption that suppression is the only viable approach to human interaction. Therefore what I propose in this brief article will reflect my experience, philosophical and clinical perspective. I am therefore sharing what I perceive are beliefs batterers have that sustain the tyranny of abuse. This list is called the Domestic Batterer’s Manifesto.
- I am very afraid of failure of my own weakness, but the only way I know to ease that fear is to exert control over the closest ones to me. The truth is that because they are close to me, they present the greatest threat to exposing my weaknesses. I must keep them close enough to get my emotional and physical needs met, but far enough to avoid my feelings of vulnerability.
- I fear that my partner can be more successful or even more powerful than I am, so to avoid the germination of this success, I will do all I can to block or even terminate any attempt at his/her success. I do this because my fragile self cannot handle the fact that he/she can have greater, or equal success to me
- I isolate you because I fear that someone will clue you in to my weakness, and will expose me. To maintain my façade of power I just have to isolate you.
- The reason why I tell you “If I can’t have you no one can”, is because I am too weak emotionally to deal with the idea that someone I gave myself to, could reject me. The very idea of this rejection is too much to take.
- I give to you emotionally on loan, under the condition that you cannot reject anything that I give. To reject ANYTHING that I give is to reject me entirely.
- I respond with violence because I must use overwhelming force to hide the fact that I am really hurting and afraid.
- I almost never physically hit the kids because they are not perceptive enough to present a threat to exposing my vulnerability.
- I see the world in black and white: the strong and the weak. The only way I know to be strong is to intimidate, control and manipulate.
- Never mind the fact that I am very weak and vulnerable. I am also quite dangerous because in my mind the world revolves around me. Any attempt to shape MY WORLD into something other than I have created, I therefore perceive as a threat to my existence. The only way I know to eliminate those threats, is to either take away the individuality of my partner by making him/her extensions of me, or worst, by eliminating his/her life.
Carlos Todd, PhD