Underneath every batterer, I'm convinced, is a child who could do no right.
He may have suffered the same demand for perfection he now demands from his wife and kids.
He may have been hit or humiliated whenever he messed up.
He may have watched his mother treated like a child or Medieval servant.
He, himself was significantly abused.
Nonetheless, the batterer's teen and adult children, like he did, have choices:
*They can try to be a "good" partner and father, though they may be very hard on themselves if they think they have failed in this role.
*If the batterer's kids have identified with the "all-knowing" father who demands respect and obedience through control and abuse, they may not be interested in being "good." They, too will want compliance, control, and obedience at home. They will see their wives as children, that is, as objects who must obey, learn from him, respect his strength and superiority.
Why do some boys from violent homes decide to be "good," while others repeat their violent homelives in the next generation? I suspect biological/intellectual factors are at work. Strong will, impulsivity, ability to empathize (or not), compulsivity, obsessive thoughts, skill at manipulation, environment (past and present), economic status, and countless others variables determine which path a boy takes when he's grown.
This path is determined early. It may be why so many mothers with children come into the shelter, especially mothers with boys 6-11, many of whom are already acting like the batterer in some ways. And let's not forget the girls. They may already be programmed to love someone "nice", who becomes cruel, but whom they desperately hope will become "nice" again.
That's what the domestic violence shelter is for. To protect, to separate, to expand options, to teach, to provide, and to allow.
It's too bad there aren't more of them.