Domestic Violence Divorce ~ The Cobra Batterer, Child Custody Seeker

Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. 02/10/2021

Have you ever noticed how some abusers will fight you to the end for custody and others give it up and walk away? Now this observation may be contrary to common understanding by those in the domestic violence divorce circles. However, from the clinical perspective, these are the trends.

In the 90’s Drs. Jacobson and Gottman describe the difference between two kinds of batterers. They call one group the Pit Bulls and the other the Cobras. As cited in All But My Soul (J. King, 2001), the distinction between the two types of batterers is as follows:

Pit Bulls and Child Custody

Pit Bulls usually come from fathers who battered their mothers. They are immature, unpredictable, unrelenting and demanding of changes from their victims. Many of these batterers are more likely to abuse alcohol.

They are emotionally dependent on their wives, and need to control and dominate their partners. They are motivated by fear of abandonment, which produces jealous rage and a strong need to control their wife’s life.

When they strike, they are highly aroused. This is what primarily distinguishes them from their Cobra counterparts.

Their wives are enraged and feel entrapped. Pit bulls are easier to leave, and are more dangerous after leaving in the long run.

This author observes that when it comes to child custody, Pit Bulls are more likely to give it up than they are to hang on and fight for custody as part of their divorce.

Cobras and Child Custody

Cobras, on the other hand, do not walk away from child custody. They fight to the end often leaving the mother of their children homeless, penniless and childless. These are the women we see with supervised visitation after divorce from a Cobra abuser.

Cobras often were abused as children by their parents. They are hedonistic, impulsive, antisocial, con artists, and they exploit and manipulate others. Cobras may use or become dependent on illegal drugs.

Their personal commitments are superficial. They do not fear abandonment, but they will not be controlled. Cobras severely abuse their wives to insure getting what they want when they want it.

When they strike, they are internally calm, contrary to the Pit Bull batterer. Cobras are very frightening, yet captivating to their wives. They are harder to leave, and are more dangerous after leaving in the short run.

Domestic Violence, Cobras and Child Custody

If you are in divorce court with a Cobra batterer, beware of their character and prepare for the fight of your life. It is not the children that they seek; it is the conquest.

Their divorce war is often about “saving face,” “getting even” and “coming out on top”—winning or stealing child custody right from under their victimized partner’s arms. For more information about domestic violence child custody, visit

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Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from legal and domestic abuse.

© Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

3 responses to “Domestic Violence Divorce ~ The Cobra Batterer, Child Custody Seeker”

  1. Marilyn says:

    Finally a name to my situation.

  2. Susan Glynn says:

    How can this be LEGAL for them to be able to do this?

    I’m in a divorce with a spouse who has Adult ADHD and Uncontrolled Anger.

    They’ve hacked my computer, keep changing our billing statements to go to Utah, and My Lawyer just keeps telling me it isn’t illegal.

    How can him not giving my stimulus check and not paying bills, be legal.



    • Dr. Jeanne King PhD says:

      Family court is NOT about interrupting domestic abuse. It is about separating assets and dividing responsibilities for children. Period.

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