Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Understanding Domestic Abusers

Common Excuses for Domestic Abuse

All abusers look for something to blame their behavior on. Common excuses that abusers give for their behavior include:

Things to remember about these excuses
Why do these excuses work so well for abusers?
Implications for Intervention

Victims may remain in a relationship with an abusive partner longer than they otherwise would, if they think their partner is “getting help.”  This can put the victim in further danger, and allow the abuser to avoid one logical result of abusive behavior – losing the relationship.

Some interventions miss the point, or frame the problem of domestic abuse  in a way that hands the abuser an additional excusefor abusive communication with their partners is often skillfully manipulative and destructive; like most people, they become skilled at doing what they value doing.  They also are good at convincing other people – including judges and therapists – to see things their way. 

The bottom line is that any intervention can potentially increase the abuser’s control and further endanger the victim (e.g., couple counseling,

These excuses are not the only ones

Abusers can use any aspect of their life, or any vulnerability or difficulty their partner experiences, as plausible-sounding excuses for abusiveness.  For instance:

Next: Excuse#1: Anger

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  1. Klein, A., Wilson, D., Crowe, A., & DeMichele, M. (2005). Evaluation of the Rhode Island Probation Specialized Domestic Violence Supervision Unit, National Institute of Justice.
  2. Buzawa, E., Hotaling, G., Klein, A. & Byrnes, J. (1999). Response to domestic violence in a pro-active court setting, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.