God no! Let's not be unfair to abusers!
From advice columnist Carolyn Hax's online chat at washingtonpost.com:
Re: Arlington, Va.: Whoa, you make it sound like an abuser is making a conscious decision to mislead with flowers, etc. Couldn't it just be that they didn't have good role models, are dealing with internal issues that creep to the surface, are tired of the way they are treated, etc,etc?
Carolyn Hax: Could be. But if the answer when called on it is some version of, "I'm not the problem, you are," then conscious or un-, this is a "pattern" that isn't healthy and isn't changing and its origin is beside the point.
Because abusers don't beat women up on purpose! They just had lousy childhoods! And they have anger management issues! And she drove them to it, anyway!
The abusive man will show you the face of the section of his character that he needs you to see. He assesses people, especially women, according to what he needs from them, and so there are always women he treats very well. He does not abuse his boss, his friends, or his coworkers. He is very skilled. His wife is the only one who sees his fist, and because people see the pleasant face he shows the outside world, they find it impossible to believe such a change can occur.
Ginmar, and her commenters who reiterate this point, are absolutely correct. Men who beat up women somehow manage to keep their tempers in check when they're dealing with a boss, a neighbor, a friend. It's not "anger management" issues and it's not an accident that these men choose the person in their world who is most vulnerable and least likely to be able to fight back against him, and beat her up with impunity.