Can Being a High Achiever Lead to Domestic Violence?

inaki-del-olmo-NIJuEQw0RKg-unsplash-300x200When we think on a fundamental level about domestic violence, we sometimes think in stereotypical terms based on our ideas of who/what an abuser is. Maybe we imagine an abuser as someone who has no job or no ambition; maybe in our minds, they’ve got mental health issues or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

But these things don’t describe you. By all accounts, you’re considered a success. You’re a noted overachiever. So, how is it that you’re under arrest for domestic violence? Why have you been served with a protective order? How could this happen? In your mind, you don’t fit the “profile” of an abuser.

And that’s where you’d be wrong. Domestic violence, an issue that plagues societies worldwide, has no singular face or definitive profile. It’s a complex and multifaceted problem affecting individuals from all walks of life, including those we often deem successful and accomplished. In fact, for high achievers, the pressure to maintain that success can even be a driving factor of violence.

What Do We Mean by High Achievers?

High achievers are individuals who are particularly successful in their professional lives. They are driven, ambitious, and often hold positions of power and influence. They are characterized by their ambitious nature, relentless drive, and deep-seated desire to succeed. High achievers are often leaders, innovators, or top performers in their respective industries. 

This drive to succeed doesn’t just extend to the workplace–it also usually carries over into the home environment. High achievers often place excessive expectations on themselves as to what kind of partner or parent they should be, how much money they should make, how many luxuries they can afford, and a slew of other invented expectations.

For these reasons, despite their success, high achievers are not immune to perpetrating domestic violence. They may even possess certain risk factors that could contribute to this behavior.

The Risk Factors

There are numerous issues and patterns associated with high-achieving individuals that could potentially lead to domestic violence if left unchecked or monitored. Let’s explore some of the most common.

High-Stress Environments

High achievers often operate in demanding and high-pressure environments. This can lead to excessive stress and burnout, manifesting as irritability, frustration, or anger. When this stress is not managed appropriately, it can easily spill over into personal relationships, manifesting as violent behavior.

Control Issues

Accustomed to decision-making roles, some high achievers struggle with relinquishing control at home. They might feel the need to be in charge of every aspect of their lives, including their partner’s actions and behaviors. This can result in abusive behaviors as they attempt to assert dominance.

Work-Life Imbalance

Striving to maintain professional success alongside a fulfilling personal life is challenging. High achievers may feel immense pressure to excel in both areas, leaving little time for self-care. This imbalance can lead to frustration, resentment, and violent outbursts towards loved ones.

Sense of Entitlement

Success can breed a sense of superiority and entitlement, potentially resulting in a lack of respect for others, including intimate partners. This mindset can contribute to believing that their partner’s needs and feelings are less important than their own. If/when the partner fails to meet the achiever’s standards, causes perceived embarrassment, etc., it can lead to abusive behaviors.

Public Image Concerns

High achievers are often high-profile individuals. These people might experience a heightened fear that the illusion of perfection might be shattered. This fear often leads to a veil of secrecy surrounding domestic violence issues, creating barriers to seeking the necessary help and support.

Disrupting the Cycle

If you’re a high achiever and you’re facing charges of domestic violence, you may be dealing with a high level of self-disappointment, even shame, at the fact that you have not met your own expectations. Indeed, disrupting this pattern can be challenging for overachievers because it naturally requires you to break the facade and face some difficult truths. However, the recovery process can be much easier once you are willing to do so. Let’s discuss some helpful tips that can help you prevent a recurrence of violence.

  • Recognize and understand your triggers. What situations, words, or actions provoke these violent tendencies? Understanding this is the first step toward change.
  • Develop conflict resolution skills. Work on skills to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively. This could involve negotiation, compromise, or seeking a third-party mediator when necessary.
  • Find healthy outlets to release pent-up energy or frustration. This might involve physical exercise, creative activities like painting or writing, or talking things out with a trusted friend or family member.
  • Learn to manage and control your impulses. This might involve counting to ten before responding, taking deep breaths, or even walking away from a situation until you’ve calmed down.
  • Practice techniques that help control your emotions. This could be through mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or other forms of relaxation.
  • Develop accountability. Take responsibility for your actions. If you’ve acted violently, apologize and make amends. This shows a commitment to change and growth.
  • Build a support network. Surround yourself with positive influences who support your journey towards non-violence. This could be friends, family, mentors, or support groups.
  • Get professional help if necessary. If violent tendencies persist, seek help from a psychologist or counselor. They can provide strategies and techniques to manage these tendencies and help you uncover underlying issues that may be contributing to them.


Remember, overcoming violent tendencies is a journey that takes time, patience, and commitment. Be gentle with yourself during this process, and celebrate your progress along the way. In the short term, if you’re facing domestic violence charges in Los Angeles or Southern California, we can provide skillful, compassionate legal representation to help you navigate the challenges ahead, including negotiating for reduced charges or reduced penalties. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation.

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