While experts agree that the relationship between substance abuse and battering is far more complicated than cause and effect, some attitudes and patterns reappear in men who abuse their partners. In an effort to better understand and improve treatment for batterers, researchers have attempted to group them on the basis of common characteristics (Gondolf, 1988; Hamberger and Hastings, 1986a; Dutton, 1995; Saunders, 1992). Gondolf organizes batterers into three clusters:


  1. "Typical batterers" (the largest group in Gondolf's sample, 52 percent) generally confine their violence to their families. For the most part, these men are not substance abusers, are unlikely to have significant mental disorders, have no arrest history, and tend to be remorseful after battering episodes. In contrast to other batterers, their behavior usually results in less severe abuse.
  2. Antisocial batterers (41 percent of the sample) are extremely abusive and may be violent outside the home. This type of batterer is emotionally volatile; has some mental health problems, such as antisocial personality disorder, depression, or anxiety; and may be a substance abuser. He may be under the care of a physician or in mental health therapy. He may have difficulty attending or completing a batterers' program without receiving additional mental health services.
  3. Sociopathic batterers (7 percent of the sample) comprise the most violent group. Although these men are likely to be heavy substance abusers, they are the hardest type to engage in substance abuse treatment. They have little empathy for others, no self-insight, and no feelings of guilt or remorse for their actions. They are the most likely of the three groups to have been arrested (Gondolf, 1988).


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