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September 4, 2015

Daily Insight Q/A


1) How many types of batterers are there AND what is the most common type of batterer?

2) What is the difference between Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) versus Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

3) What are the main phases of the Walker Cycle Theory of Violence in a battered woman?

4) What is Marital Rape?

5) What is the most common substance abuse associated with Domestic Violence?




1) Answer: Three Types of Batterer

     a. Power & Control Batterer

     b. Mentally Ill Batterer  

     c. Antisocial Personality Disordered Batterer

     (most common type is Power and Control Batterer)

The most common type of batterer is known as the “Power and Control Batterer” who utilizes violence to terrorize and control the relationship without regard to women’s rights. The second type is “Mentally Ill Batterer” who may have an abuse disorder with a co-existing mental problem as (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, borderline personality traits, and obsessive compulsive disorder etc.). The focus for management will vary in diagnosing and treating each co-existing problem for the violence to fully cease in the mentally ill batterer. The third most common type is the “Antisocial Personality Disordered Batterer” who has committed other criminal acts; is dangerous to treat; and should be incarcerated. There are 2 subtypes of antisocial personality disordered batterer known as a) “pit bulls” and b) “cobras.” Pit bulls demonstrate the typical signs of anger and rage while cobras are calmer, have lower heart rates, and exhibit a dangerous type of quiet aggressiveness.


Understanding the etiology of violent behavior and the motivation of the batterer can be extremely helpful in diagnosing, treating, and eradicating the root of the problem and in helping both the victim and the batterer as well. 

2) Answer: Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) vs. PTSD

There are three sets of signs and symptoms required to make the diagnosis of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

a. traumatic event that includes fear of safety or death

 b. lasts greater than 4 weeks (if less than 4 weeks the diagnosis is Acute Stress Reaction)

c. performance at work and/or daily life activities is affected

 On the other hand, the Battered Woman Syndrome has six groups of criteria that have been tested scientifically to identify the problem. (the first three criteria are the same as for PTSD with additional three criteria present):

a. Intrusive recollections of the trauma event(s)

b. Hyperarousal symptoms

c. Avoidance behavior and emotional numbing (usually expressed as depression, dissociation, minimization, repression, and/or denial)

d. Disrupted interpersonal relationships from batterer’s power and control as being manipulated through threats of violence, degradation, and isolation

e. Body image distortions and/or somatic or physical complaints

f. Sexual intimacy issues


It is extremely important to thoroughly evaluate the level of the body image distortions and somatic issues in a battered woman in order to help heal the problem more effectively. Research has demonstrated that improving body image will in turn raise self-esteem, successfully help recover the battered woman from domestic violence, improve socio-psychological functioning and the over-all well-being.

3) Answer: Walker Cycle Theory of Violence in the Battered Woman

Phase I Tension Building;

Phase II Acute Battering Incident;

Phase III Loving-contrition

The Walker Theory of Violence suggests that there are 3 distinct phases associated with recurring battering cycle. 


 Phase I- the tension building phase also known as anxiety arousal stage which is usually accompanied with rising sense of danger. Minor incidents occur as blaming, criticizing, yelling, and screaming from the abuser. The victim usually believes it may be their fault that the abuser is upset. To prevent violence, the victim attempts to reduce this tension by pacifying the batterer and may succeed temporarily; but eventually leads to a pattern of learned helplessness. Gradually this tension escalates leading to the next phase the actual incident of domestic abuse.


Phase II is the stimulus delivery phase, also known as the explosion or crisis phase characterized by discharge of tensions with outbursts of violence in an attempt to shake, dominate, and injure the victim. The abuser gets out of control in terrorizing the victim, breaking things, hitting, spitting, pushing, choking, burning, tying up, raping and/or kicking the victim. The situation usually gets worse over time and the victim may survive this stage with bruises and/or broken bones. Major injuries of domestic violence succeed during this second phase where police may become involved (if reported) with victim hospitalization. A sharp physiological reduction in tension leads to cessation of the acute battering phase when the batterer actually stops.


Phase III is relief with a return to baseline stage, also known as reconciliation phase or honeymoon phase where tension is diminished in the situation with absence of violence. The batterer begins to feel guilt, remorse, sad, and/or fearful that the victim may leave or call the police. The batterer may apologize profusely in trying to help the victim by showing gestures of kindness care, love, affection, gifts, and/or promises. The batterer may also use self-harm or threats of suicide to gain sympathy from the victim during this phase. On the other hand, the victim starts to feel more hurt, pain, fear, humiliation, confusion, and may also feel somewhat responsible for the situation. The abusers during this phase are usually convincing and may believe that they will never be violent again. The victims are very eager for the relationship to improve in general and have deep hope for this change. Overall this phase is characterized by affection, apology, and/or ignoring the situation all together.


Analyzing the 3 main phases of the Walker Theory of Violence in this Battering Cycle beginning from tension building to acute incident to relief can help understand why women get deluded and entrapped into these harmful relationships. Integrative methods and holistic strategies in breaking this cycle of violence can help alleviate the root of the problem all together.

4) Answer: Marital Rape Definition

 Rape committed by the person to whom the victim is married as in non-consensual sexualization also known as sexual abuse which occurs more frequently than estimated. A broader definition of domestic sexual abuse includes any kind of forced oral, anal, or vaginal penetration. Recent statistics within the past five years suggest that up to 30% of adult rape cases were committed by husbands and when domestic violence is part of a relationship the chance of spousal rape rises by 70% and up to 15% of victims have reported their children witnessing the sexual assault in the marriage. There are indirect and direct methods of asking the battered woman to discuss sexual abuse. Indirect techniques are more reliable and likely to reveal more valid information from the victims as, “Is sex with your batterer ever unpleasant for you?” On the other hand, a more direct question to the batterer could be more intimidating as, “Did he ever force you to have sex?”


A variety of strategies and combination techniques involving both direct and indirect interviews are recommended to better understand marital rape with the battered woman. 

"When it is the person you have entrusted your life to who rapes you, it isn’t just physical or sexual assault, it is a betrayal of the very core of your marriage, of your person, of your trust." ~Anonymous

“…I was often beaten and forced for sex. He also beat me and forced me for sex even when I was almost nine months pregnant. He is a shameless man….Because of his beatings, my son died soon after his birth (with a sad face). But since I got married to him, I have to tolerate everything. He also forced me to have sex right after I gave birth to the child.” ~19 year old female

5) Answer: Substance abuse associated with Domestic Violence #1 Alcohol


Many popular research studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence over a period of time. Alcohol is the most frequently reported substance abuse with domestic violence followed by cocaine and methamphetamines. 


 Holistic, integrative, alternative, and combined therapies with trauma treatment, spiritual counseling, rehabilitation, and drug management are all recommended especially for those who have been involved with abusing substances in domestic violence cases.


The Battered Woman Syndrome 3rd Ed. By Dr. Lenore E. Walker, Ed.D, ABPP