There can be many behaviors a batterer exhibits early on in a relationship–red flags–that may foreshadow their abusive and controlling patterns in the future.
When a potential partner doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions and choices, this could be a red flag warning of something worse. Statements like “I only did that because you made me mad”, or “I had too much to drink, I couldn’t control myself” shifts the blame to some external force or 3rd party, rather than the batterer taking responsibility for their choices. If things “going wrong” are always the victim’s fault, or if the batterer always insists that their actions were the result of something the victim did, then the batterer is trying to convince their victim that the batterer is not responsible for their abusive and controlling behavior. In all actuality, they are responsible for their behavior, and not taking ownership of these actions and choices demonstrates a lack of accountability.
Another version of this red flag behavior is when the batterer has a history of domestic violence, and asserts that their exes were “crazy”, “false reported” on them, or “were abusive, too”. The batterer may imply that they were not at fault for any failed relationship, whether DV is apparent or not. This is applicable to any history of violent crime. Blaming drugs, alcohol, or other parties involved, highlights that the batterer does not acknowledge any part they played in their past, and insinuates that they were merely a passive bystander in their own life, under the control of these external forces or 3rd parties.
Lack of accountability can allow the batterer to potentially continue their abusive and controlling behaviors, never having to assume responsibility for their choices and actions and thereby never believing that they need to change their behaviors. This can also groom their victims into believing that the fault lies with the victim, and that the victim is the one who needs to alter their behavior, not the batterer. By recognizing that you are not responsible for your partner’s choices or actions, you can begin to place responsibility where it belongs.
If you or someone you know may have a partner with accountability issues, and want to know more about other potential early warning signs of domestic violence, Arkansas Valley Resource Center Staff are available 24/7!
415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656