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Domestic Violence Abuser Behavior
Compared to
Abusive Borderline Behavior

Statistically, it’s estimated that 30 to 60 percent of domestic violence abusers are suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. So why doesn’t the domestic violence industry (administrators, organizations, shelters, counselors, legislators) tell DV victims about that?

I believe that if DV victims were informed and educated about the feelings driving the behavior of DV abusers, the victims could many times actually prevent the abuse from happening to them.

The new information, of course, wouldn’t heal or restore the abuser to health – but it would at least buy some time for the victims to protect themselves and perhaps safely plan their exit.

So what are these feelings that drive people to such desperate acts of aggression?

The absolute core feeling – and desperate fear – of a Borderline is that of being abandoned. Remember, these are our abused and neglected children . . . now grown up.

Overwhelmed with fear that they're about to be abandoned, they act jealous . . . controlling . . . hypersensitive. Of course, they blame their partner for their feelings and problems – because if the partners didn’t do what they do (get home late from work, spend time with a friend who’s grieving, stay up late studying to advance their career) – the abusers wouldn’t feel what they feel.

Can you see the small grain of logic here on the part of the abuser?

I believe the rest of the DV abuser’s behavior – verbal abuse, rigid gender expectations and roles, dramatic personality swings, threats of violence, using force during an argument, etc., -- can be traced back to the desperation of a man (or woman) acting out the fear and rage of being abandoned again.

And by gosh, he/she’s going to prevent it this time. Now they’re an adult and “nobody’s going to do that to me again!”

Add to this mix the child who was continually berated, put down and ridiculed - and you have an adult with so little self-esteem that they can't bear to look at their own behavior as something that might need some correction.

Again, they blame us - it's all our fault.

Below are the “Indicators of a Battering Personality,” courtesy of the Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara County in California.

Below also are the behaviors of a person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, as described in the mental health profession’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV.

You decide for yourself whether the behaviors aren’t much the same.

You might also check out the Red Flags section on this web site for over 80 behaviors that may indicate the presence of a personality disorder.


Domestic Violence Solutions
Santa Barbara County, CA

► Controlling behavior

► Jealousy

► Unrealistic expectations

► Hypersensitivity

► Quick involvement in the relationship

► Attempts to isolate you

► Tendency to blame others for problems or feelings

► Cruelty to animals or children

► Verbal abuse

► Rigid gender expectations and roles

► Dramatic personality swings

► Threats of violence

► Throwing, striking, or breaking objects

► Using force during an argument


► Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

► A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

► Identity disturbance; markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

► Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

► Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

► Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

► Chronic feelings of emptiness

► Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

► Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms


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