Julie had never thought that her husband would ever hit her, but here she was starring at the bruise on her forehead. He had apologized to her over and over again, and had promised that is would never happen again if she could gave him another chance. She didn’t know what to do.
Lately Anna’s boyfriend was becoming more and more controlling. Whenever he wasn’t with her, he wanted to know where she was and what she was doing, and was becoming jealous when she chose to spend time with her girlfriends. Whenever she tried to talk to her about his recent behavior, he would become angry and physical with her. She was becoming afraid of him and worried that he might never calm down.
Adam was afraid. His wife had a bed temper and occasionally slapped him when she was angry, but last night she had been drinking and she really tried to hurt him. Adam knew better than to fight back, but he wasn’t sure how much more he could take.
DEFINITIONS & KEY THOUGHTS
Domestic violence often follows a three-step circular pattern. In the first step, tension rises until the abuser loses control. Second, the abuse occurs. It is often accompanied by feelings of rationalization by the abuser (i.e., thoughts that it is deserved by the victim) and minimization of the consequences of the abuse. Third, the abuser feels remorse. They do not feel the tension that they had before and are sorry for their actions. They often beg for forgiveness, make promises to never do it again, and behave very lovingly toward the victim.
While the third stage of the pattern often appears to be true repentance, it is only due to the abuser’s absence of tension and their feeling that the victim has “learned their lesson.” Once these feelings disappear and tension increases again, the battering is likely to reoccur.
Domestic violence is often fueled by the abuser’s need to control. Unfortunately, a victim can become in danger of more battering by trying to break the cycle.
It is common for abusers and victims of domestic violence to have grown up in an abusive home.
Most of the predictors of domestic violence are present very early on in a couple’s dating relationship. These predictors can include: use of violence or force to solve problems, rigid ideas regarding the roles of men and women in a relationship, an potential abuser’s need to prove himself by acting tough, and fears of a potential abuser’s anger.
It is not uncommon for abusers to be very personable and charming when in public, but to behave entirely differently behind closed doors. Abusers may attempt to appear reasonable by tying to influence others of their wives’ irrational and rebellious behavior, and trying to get others to see their side.
There are several negative consequences of domestic violence. Physical abuse can result in higher rates of all types of health problems including chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, and more. It also can result in unwanted pregnancy, gynecological disorders, of premature labor for pregnant women. Victims of physical abuse generally tend to have more heart and circulatory conditions, as well as sexually transmitted diseases. As for psychologically abused individuals, they are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, problems with low self-esteem, substance abuse, antisocial or suicidal behavior, and other adverse mental health conditions. Consequences of social abuse include limited access to public life and health services, and little emotional support from friends and family. Finally, children who witness any form of domestic violence are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders, low self-esteem, violent behaviors, developmental disorders, and academic difficulties.
There are several factors related to domestic violence. Among the many include poor family functioning, male dominance in the family, marital conflict, prior injury from the same partner, a history of physical abuse, having a verbally abusive partner, partner history of drug or alcohol abuse, economic stress, being under the age of 24, and a history of childhood abuse.
1. Provide for safety. When it comes to cases of domestic violence the victim’s safety is the number one priority. Reassure the victim of their safety and help the victim to feel empowered enough to separate from their abuser if need be.
2. Have a plan. For some individuals, the only thing that keeps them in an abusive situation it their lack of resources to escape. Work out a plan to for the victim to follow the next time that abuse occurs. Be sure that they have numbers to call- police, a hotline or family shelter, a counselor, or a trusted friend. Determine who the victim will call or where they will go if they choose to leave. Advise the victim to pack their essentials in a bag that is easily accessible if they need to leave an abusive situation quickly; include in bag, photocopies of any important documents and predetermine how the victim will access money or car keys in the event that they need to leave suddenly. Last, inform the victim that if they need to leave after an abusive incident, it is best to do so calmly and without any argument or discussion.
3. Reassurance. Reassure the victim that abuse is never deserved and is always wrong.
4. Relationships. Determine how much support the victim has and encourage them to seek help from others. Encourage them not to isolate themselves no matter what the reason.