Home > Practical Applications > Body Language of an Abuser

Body Language of an Abuser

By: Libby Pelham BA - Updated: 22 Apr 2022 | comments*Discuss
Abuse Violence Domestic Violence Body

Abuse statistics in the UK are alarming, but some of the abuse may be avoided by knowing the body language signs of an abuser.

The Women’s Aid Federation reported in 1992 that one in four UK women experience violence in their relationships with men. In London alone, 100,000 women are treated for injuries that are a result of domestic violence. Scottish Women’s Aid state that one of every five Scottish women will be the victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Over half of the rapes reported in the UK are committed by the current or former partner of the abused woman.

While it cannot be said of all, many abusers will share the same type of personality and body language. Many abusers are deceptive and their manners that may serve as a warning sign are often very subtle. But being able to pick up on these signs can serve as a warning to women that their date might be a potential abuser.

Physical Stance

An abuser typically feels he is better than the woman he abuses, so it makes sense that he often takes the physical stance of someone of superiority. He may stand up straight, chin upright with his hands on his hips to make his body appear larger than it is. His legs may be slightly apart to also help increase his size.

He may maintain piercing eye contact as a way of intimidating others, yet he may at the same time keep his physical distance from the potential victim.

He may speak to others, such as taxi driver or waiter, in a condescending, sarcastic tone. But watch him in a group and he often chooses to refrain from social interaction. Some women mistake an abuser’s aloofness as charming, but it may actually be that he is closing himself off to keep her from knowing his real self.


Because he feels superior, the abuser will often feel that he is entitled to special treatment. He may jump queues because he feels he is so special that he doesn’t have to wait. His facial expression may be that of smugness or arrogance. He may demand attention at a restaurant, using physically threatening gestures such as shaking his fist. When an abuser doesn’t receive the entitlement to which he feels he deserves, he often reacts with an outburst of rage. His face may become red as his voice gets louder and louder.

Abusers often don’t accept “no” when seeking physical satisfaction. If he is holding a woman’s hand and she pulls away, he make react with anger. He may punch things or throw things over the most seemingly insignificant matters. After all, he feels he has the right to do anything he want in regards to her body.

Admiration and Blame

To woo his potential victim, the abuser can be very charming, often showering the woman with physical attention. However, once he feels that he is in total command of the relationship, this adoration may only be seen when others are around.

The abuser also often places blame on women. If he drops a plate and breaks it, he may tell the abused woman “Look what you made me do” because in his mind, he is so special and superior, he is not capable of making mistakes. This can lead to violence in a relationship, with the abuser trying to convince the women it was “her fault” he hit her.


The abuser typically thinks of himself first. He may use the terms “I” and “me” frequently. When standing in line, walking, or entering a building, he usually needs to be first, with, in his mind, the “inferior” woman behind him.

He loves to talk about himself and all his accomplishments, genuine or otherwise. When the woman tries to portray herself with any worth, he may show disinterest. He will look bored, not making eye contact, and may even get angry at some point.

Because of his self centredness and feelings of superiority, the abuser often acts inappropriately when faced with someone in need of help, someone weak or disabled. He may laugh, point, and mock the person, even to the point of hurting their feelings.

All these signs of dominance and control can be a sign of a potential abuser. Perhaps if women were more aware of these indicators, abuse statistics could be lowered.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Totally agree with the other poster.And truly, "Perhaps if women were more aware of these indicators, abuse statistics could be lowered."Really?Really?Educate yourself prior to speaking to something you clearly don't grasp in its entirety, or really it would seem, much at all.
I'm required to ent - 22-Apr-22 @ 12:45 PM
This is the description of one kind of character that is abusive.The movie 'Sleeping with the enemy' comes to mind. The man with whom I was with in an abusive relationship was nothing like the character that is described. Any person in a relationship with the man I know would read your description, not recognise any traits, be confused and continue in the relationship thinking they were wrong!This falls right in to the pocket of the abuser. Your article is not correct in saying 'body language of an abuser'.It should say 'description of one type of character associated with an abuser'. This will cause harm to someone who is in an abusive relationship and looking for answers.
Ess - 23-Nov-11 @ 4:02 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: