Marriage Missions International

Abuser Traits and Characteristics


An abuser can be anyone, as evidenced from the Bible. The first instance of abuse in the Bible was when Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy.

Abusers are in every culture, ethnic group, and nationality in the world. There are both male, and female abusers, but most reported perpetrators of abuse are male.

“‘Now Cain said… let’s go out to the field.’ And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.(Genesis 4:8)

I’ve found five predominant traits of an abuser. I’m sure there are many more but these five come readily to mind regarding most abusers.

1. Charismatic

They are charismatic/charming, there’s a certain attractive quality about them. They are extremely polite, and even delightful to be around. One would say, “he’s a charmer” or “Mr./Ms. Personality.”

Most often they are physically attractive, although there are some who are not so attractive. But for the most part they are attractive looking, or have some quality about them that’s appealing.

Most people can’t believe that the person is an abuser. They can’t see beyond his/her fascinating personality.

In fact in some instances, children, even though they may actually see the abuse, believe that somehow you the victim was the cause of the abuse, why else would such a sweet person do what he/she does? They miss the whole point of abuse —Power and Control.

2. Jealousy

An abuser can be extremely hateful and jealous of his/her love relationships. Usually they have an unhealthy, unfounded suspicion of their spouse/or friend.

There’s a righteous type of jealousy. “You shall not bow down to them (idols) or worship them: for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God…(Exodus 20:5). And there’s an un-righteous type of jealousy “For love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.(Song of Songs 8:6)

3. Controlling

Most abusers whether male of female can be controlling in their behavior; they must have the upper hand, dominance, rule in their affairs with their loved ones.

God is the only One who has power of His creations “He rules forever by His power, His eyes watch the nations —let not the rebellious rise up against him.(Psalm 66:7)

4. Deceptive

Most abusers can be very deceptive, dishonest, and full of guile. They somehow manage to juggle situations, people and circumstances to their benefit. They are convincing impostors.

…Bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days.(Psalm 55:23)

5. A Proud Heart

Most abusers are proud, arrogant, and egotistical. They have an unrepentant spirit about abuse, and most things. They believe what they have done was to keep things in control for your good. They may cry, and plead even ask for your forgiveness, but it is not sincere, for soon the slander and abuse starts all over again.

Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has a haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.(Psalm 101:5)

Here of some characteristics of abusers:

• They (men/women) track you and your whereabouts —mileage, phone calls etc.

• They try to control your money. If they are the chief breadwinners they keep the money.

• When angry they destroy property.

• They threaten you with harm.

• They can be physically abusive.

• They are emotionally abusive.

• They are psychological abusive.

• They blame you for his or her outbursts.

• They may have a poor self-image.

• They may have a history of family violence.

• They are verbally abusive.

• They may be unfaithful in your marital relationship.

• They may have an alcohol/drug addiction.

• They may have gambling addiction.

• Most abusers like to rush into a relationship.

• They humiliate you.

• There is a Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde syndrome going on in an abuser.

If you have found some of these traits or characteristics in your relationship it’s time to get help as soon as possible.

Spiritually: First of all pray and ask the Lord to show you how to handle the situation that you’re currently in. Ask the Lord to give you divine strategies in the situation.

If you live in the U.S. and the situation is violent, and children are involved, please call for Emergency Help 911; National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 800 799-7233 (SAFE) 1 800 787-3224 (TDD)

This article comes from the, which has graciously allowed us to feature it on this web site. Their focus “is to provide a service of love and compassion to battered women/men by renewing the mind through biblical principles, and recover what has been lost to the person by the malicious acts of abuse.” They “have a holistic approach to concerns of: domestic violence, rape, date rape, coping with teen pregnancy, and CPS (NC only).” They also are a “Renewal Center for Battered Women: Life Coaching and Support Services, dedicated to serve clients in guidance and assistance in making better life choices through Biblical principles.” They “educate, instruct, edify, and coach.”

— ALSO —

An additional article written by Judy Brinkley, which points out traits of an abuser, can be found at the web site, Information can be enlightening and empowering. Please read:


If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


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13 Responses to “Abuser Traits and Characteristics”
  1. Kris says:

    (USA) Can an abusive husband really change? I don’t believe in divorce and I keep holding out for hope that he will. He claims to be a Christian but can I really believe that at this point? We’ve been married for 1 year and dated 4 years prior to getting married. As soon as we got married he changed into a controlling, jealous, and verbally abusive man. I am so torn and miserable. We go to counseling but when we get home he claims the therapist (a minister) is one sided –mine. Any advice?

    • Maria says:

      (US) Kris, How are you doing? I’m with you. Sadly, I do not believe he will change unless he WANTS to. Please, read my post. Maria

    • Teah from Australia says:

      Try counseling alone. That is best for you. I hear your pain. Don’t have any children with him, instead seek refuge. Better to be alone.

  2. Zozi says:

    (S.A.) I do not know whether it is God’s plan to end up at this site but anyway, I’m very frustrated. My hubby has about 7 characteristics from the ones stated above. But what is killing me now is him expecting me not to be with my friends whilst he is constantly spending time with his. He monitors time I spend in shopping. Even if I go for just bread and milk I will find him so angry as if he’ll kill.

    According to him any man I talk to is my boyfriend, even if that person is my colleague. This embarrases me. Then he will be angry, not talking to the children. Even if he has to buy something he will make my children suffer because he’s angry with me. This sometimes lasts for a week or two. Then when he has decided he needs sex he lightens up a bit until he has what he wants. Then he will be bossy asking for this and that, no matter what I’m doing and I must pay attention to him coz he is a man.

    God, this is killing me. Things have been bad. I have had fights about his relationships, finances, him spending time with friends but this one of him making me feel like I’m nothing is killing me.

    • Maria says:

      (US) Zozi, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through… because it sounds so familiar, certainly not what you expected marriage to be. It’s not fair. Seems like a lot of folks are very against divorce. I use to be one of them. But if there is one thing God has taught me over the last couple of years is to hold my judgement. Seems every time I had a judgement, it was cast on me to humble me. One NEVER knows what people are going through. And you can only change yourself. This is a time to lift your head and show yourself, your children and your community what you’re made of. BTW, I posted a comment too; you should read it.

      • Teah from Australia says:

        Dear God, help this women to pack her bags while she is wise enough to see it’s him, not her, and before she starts to get twisted into his warped controling abuse. He’s a dangerous, dangerous man. Get your children and her sadly away to safety and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    • Kerry says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA) Hi Zozi:

      I’m very sorry to hear of the pain that you are going through. I fully understand where you’re at. I have no close friends due to the isolation characteristic of an abusive relationship. Revisit the Biblical description of love in Corinthians and substitute your husband’s name for the word love. It might make it easier for you to take the steps you need to. This is not what God intended for marriage.

      Don’t lose yourself in this battle and do what you have to do minimize the damage he is causing you and your children.

  3. Veatris says:

    (UNITED STATES) I hear everyone complain about being abused in one way or another, And it makes me stronger in the sense of leaving my marriage. I also thought like everyone else he will change some day. But unless he surrenders his heart to the Lord he won’t change. One time as I was driving home I ask the Lord, help me. How do I handle this? Do we stay together for our marriage sake and wait for him to get a heart attack or me a nervous breakdown. Or do we leave each other for the sake of peace, and the Lord answered me. I too don’t believe in divorce but sometimes separation helps the marriage if you go through with it and allow the other party to recognize that there is a big problem. God took me to the book of Corinthians, where it states……Oh wife how do you know that you will save your husband after all I have called you to be at peace…and it goes on to say to the husband Oh husband how do you know if you will save your wife after all I have called you to be at peace.

    Sometimes we get so wrapped up with life that we miss the whole point of what marriage is supposed to be. My husband and I were boyfriend and girlfriend for 10 years until we decided to get married. But I recall one incident where I overheard my husband (boyfriend at that time) screaming or yelling on the phone with someone and as I got closer I said please tell me that was not your mom on the phone. All he said was she got me mad, I should have seen that as a warning sign, but I went on with him and forgot all about it. He always buys all the groceries, does not include me in any of his financial matters and I really don’t know much about his business other than him going to work every day. My son (who is handicapped due to a car accident) becomes a problem most of the time. He fights with him almost at all times and I am in the middle and I don’t like it but because I am his wife…he expects me to side with him. Then my son feels out of place; until this last fight I told him that a mother should never have to choose between her husband and son. Especially if they are disabled, a mother’s love for her children is un-conditional. I sometimes feel sad because I never thought that it would come to this after only being married for seven years. But it’s now or later and at my age, why wait untl I get sick or he leaves again. If he does not get help for himself, he will continue thinking he is right and I am wrong. I am just tpo tired of fighting. I hope my life story will help someone. Stay focused on God He will sustain you through it all. God Bless You.

  4. Maria says:

    (US) I’m very sorry yet so enlightened to hear about your struggles. I had and continue to have the presence and effects of an abuser. When I read this article, it sounded like a detailed description of my ex-husband. Yes, my ex. If there is anything I want to say, please be very careful before you leave. I’ll explain…

    I was very naive to all of this before I left the home after 7 years of marriage. All I knew was that I could no longer live feeling like I didn’t matter at all to my husband. The only time he was friendly was when we were around other people (he would also make fun of me) or he wanted something. I have a full time job and was mentally drained each day before the work day even started. Some of the highlights: 1- asked me not to ask for anything… and I didn’t ask for much 2- would justify his actions with non related topics and how he “allowed” me to (fill in the blank). 3- no matter what he did, he was right 4- with regard to pornography or other women -he always compared me and continued to do it no matter how often I said I didn’t like it 5- vacation times were always where and how he wanted 6- doing sexual acts/touching that I did not like or want. I would tell him nearly on a daily basis only to be told to move my hands or just listen to him tell me how he really wanted it and it wasn’t a big deal 7- every activity was on his schedule, mine had no bearing. Leaving the house for any reason without him was unacceptable 8- always monitored my email without me knowing 9- he was physically abusive and would justify his actions or just pretend like it didn’t really happen and I was just exaggerating… I could go on and on. Did I mention I am more than 10 years younger?

    The worst part is I didn’t really understand what was going on, and I was embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. Sadly, my family didn’t have great marriage role models either. I saw the signs when we were dating, but the instant we got married, it went to the extreme. My mother adored him because he was so charming to her and no one believed he could be any different then what they saw when they were around him. Plus, who really wanted to hear about it? He justified every little thing, I thought it was my fault. Also, after looking back, I had been distanced from the Christian upbringing I was raised in, not to mention my family. He would make jokes about how folks were going to church to “get saved”…making fun. My self esteem had been attacked so many times, I couldn’t find it anymore.

    When I left the home, he was as cold and vindictive as they come. Although I was nearby, he tried very hard to keep the children away from me. He would not “allow” me to have any furniture. Even furniture I had before we were married. He would show up to my house unannounced. And when I was with the children, he would invite himself to wherever we were at, then get very angry when I would ask him to leave and make comments to the kids about it. He would harass me while I had the kids, then I wouldn’t hear from him when they were with him.

    In time, I reverted to the Christian upbringing I had been absent from during our marriage. It opened my eyes and saved my life.

    If I could do it again, I would have called 911 each time he hit me or threw me around. I would have talked to a pastor about it and reached out. I would have consulted a (good) lawyer ahead of time, saved everything on the computer hard drive, packed the house while he was at work, and filed a restraining order. Most importantly, I would have not continued to give in to his manipulation (he used the kids often), not answered his calls and do EVERYTHING via email. I just wish I had known that it’s NOT OK if your husband continues to do sexual acts when you clearly tell him you don’t like it. It’s NOT OK to be manipulated (psychologically and emotionally) every day. It’s NOT OK when your husband tells you not to ask him for anything, it’s NOT normal to be kept in the house or just feel completely guilty or miserable when you do. And it’s definitely NOT OK when your husband hits you or throws you around.

    It’s NORMAL for a husband to want to serve and love his wife. It’s normal for a husband to love and respect you. You deserve that. Please, talk to a pastor or two or three. They are not there to judge you, they are there to help.

    I pray that this helps someone out there. I hope you’re able to lift your head up again and be the beautiful, confident and peaceful woman God intended you to be. Even out of all of this, there is good. I’m a better woman, a better person, more calm and level headed. I hold my judgements. And finally, keep the high ground and keep the children out of it. Any attempt to put their dad down will only backfire.

  5. Kerry says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) Two weeks ago I left my aggressive (and emotionally abusive) husband. We have known each other for 25 years and been married for 20 years.

    He is an epileptic and two weeks ago he had a siezure and attacked my son and I. I knew it was time to leave. For at least the past five years I have been the breadwinner as he has been unable to work – he cannot handle stress and does not take well to me ever asking him why he was playing a video game and not working. He has lived life by his own rules for a long time and being unaccountable, the past year and a half have probably been the worst.

    I have been acccused of multiple affairs (yet I work two jobs to keep us afloat finacially) and everything is always done the way he wants it with very few compromises that cater for the tastes of others. I could go on for pages about our situation but I believe he is mentally ill.

    We have not been physically intimate for over a year and a half. He’s told me in that I am fat and eat too much (due to me hitting middle age combined with stress, I put on 10kg). Throughout our entire realtionship he has always been overweight and bordering on obese at times (40kg overweight) yet never once did I say anything insulting or hurtful about his weight. His sense of hygiene is very bad as he bathes once a month (If I’m lucky) and when confronted on his hygiene habits he has always had a rebuttal, like “I washed under my arms…” He also ignores his dental hygiene so he suffers from halitosis. And of course when I say he should brush his teeth he just asks for a peppermint to freshen his breath with some excuse like ‘I just drank coffee so I can’t brush my teeth now’. I once hid his toothbursh to see if I was right about him not brushing (I love kissing but over the past few years I’ve hated it due to his bad breath – we probably haven’t kissed in about 3 years). 3 months went by and not once did he ask for his toothbrush – there was no other toothbrush he could use.

    I want to divorce him as the stress he has created has damaged out son and I want a normal life. Due his paranoia and aggression we haven’t gone to church for a year as I never knew who he’d accuse me of having an affair with (he believed I was having affairs with some of the men in our church). Upon me leaving he is now sorry and says that I must change and take him back (because he has now changed so much for the better), yet each time I mention the violence during the ‘siezure’ he justifies what he did. He is mentally ill. He has no scope of the pain he has caused me and our son and he phones me everyday to say he’s sorry. I know he will not change, I do not want to even try and get back together with him as I am aslo afraid of him.

    I want to close this chapter of my life as soon as possible and start again. The part I’m struggling with is that I want to get remarried (I do not have anyone in mind) I want to be with a Godly man who treats me well and thinks that I’m attractive, even when I put on a few kg. I want my son to have a positive male role model in his life for once, to see a man who is responsible and loving and selfless.

  6. Tina says:

    (UNITED STATES) I’ve been married for 12 years and have 4 beautiful children. I have know him since I was 17 we had our first child when I was 18. We both are the same age. For the past 4 years, it’s been horrible for me. I am tired of his abuse. He pushed me against the wall when I was pregnant with my son; he dragged me down the stairs while my 8 year old daughter was standing next to me. He is always screaming at me… then all the kids will start crying.

    I really don’t know what to do anymore. He is addicted to porn and masturbation. Even when we go out on a date I can see him looking at other women or flirting with them. I want to leave but I don’t believe in divorce. My parents have been married for 44 years and as a kid I never experienced anything like this. Everyone in my family has been married for ages and I don’t want to be the first one to get a divorce. I want to save my marriage because I know he loves me; he’ll give me anything I ask for. He and he doesn’t hide money from me.

    I am a stay-at-home Mom while he works and I take care of the bills. But lately I’ve been feeling lonely with no one to talk to. I cry all the time and even if I want to leave I don’t know how or where I will go and how I’d support my kids because I only have 3 years of college and its been a long time since I worked. So I really don’t know what to do. All I can do is pray to see if he’ll change because I don’t think I can take this much longer. Please help and keep me in your prayers.

    • Missy says:

      (USA) That’s no marriage & no way to live. Think of the example you’re setting for your kids. Your kids are probably going to end up abusing you too. Abuse or be abused, that is the lesson they’re learning. Get help.

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