Domestic Violence Information

What is Domestic Violence?

Battering is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Battering happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another. Assault, battering, and other violent actions associated with domestic violence are crimes.

Definitions: Abuse of family members can take many forms. Battering may include emotional abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, using children, threats, using male privilege, intimidation, isolation, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation and power. In all cultures, the perpetrators are most commonly the men of the family. Women are most commonly the victims of violence. Elder and child abuse are also prevalent. Acts of domestic violence generally fall into one or more of the following categories:

Physical Battering: The abuser's physical attacks or aggressive behavior can range from bruising to murder. It often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts which escalate into more frequent and serious attacks.

Sexual Abuse: Physical attack by the abuser is often accompanied by, or culminates in, sexual violence wherein the woman is forced to have sexual intercourse with her abuser or take part in unwanted sexual activity.

Psychological Battering: The abuser's psychological or mental violence can include constant verbal abuse, harassment, excessive possessiveness, isolating the woman from friends and family, deprivation of physical and economic resources, and destruction of personal property.

Battering escalates. It often begins with behaviors like threats, name calling, violence in her presence (such as punching a fist through a wall), and/or damage to objects or pets. It may escalate to restraining, pushing, slapping, and/or pinching. The battering may include punching, kicking, biting, sexual assault, tripping, and throwing things. Finally, it may become life-threatening with serious behaviors such as choking, breaking bones, or the use of weapons.

A question often asked when discussing the dynamics of domestic violence is "Why would anyone get involved with a batterer in the first place"? Abusive individuals most often don't start out being abusive in a new relationship. A batterer can be very charming and sweet in the beginning. The batterer has the ability to give the potential victim whatever she needs at that time. Flowers, dinner, kind words, funds, playfulness, a listening ear, who wouldn't respond to these things? At some point, however, this courtship comes to a halt and the abuse and violence begins.

Along with the tactics of power and control, many times another pattern occurs in the abusive relationship. This is a pattern of growing tension, an explosion of violence followed by a "honeymoon" phase. In this phase the batterer is very sorry and will never do "this" again, promises are made, tears may be shed, the flowers and gifts may return. But this "honeymoon" fades over time and the tension begins to build. It isn't long before another explosion of violence occurs followed by yet more promises. And the pattern begins again... This pattern is not seen in all abusive relationships. In some cultures it is accepted for the male to have total power and control over the female and this pattern is not needed to maintain the relationship.


Did you know?

The average number of times a battered woman may leave from, and return to her batterer is between five and seven.

The average number of excuses (sometimes described as "syndromes") a batterer will use to get his victim to return is between five and seven.

These includes:

The Sweet Baby syndrome: "Oh, sweet baby, please come back... I can’t live without you...I love you so much baby, please come back...I’ll never hurt you again."

The Super Dad syndrome: "I miss my kids so much...How can you do this to me...How can you take my children away from me...I love them so much... They need their daddy...Bring my kids back to me...You’re hurting them by keeping them away from me."

The Sobriety syndrome: "If you come back to me, I’ll quit drinking...I’ll stop using drugs...You can come home now...I’ve joined AA/NA...You know I only hurt you when I’m drunk."

The Religious syndrome: "I went to church today...I was born again...God has forgiven me, why can’t you...Come home and we’ll read the Bible together... We’ll go to church as a family and everything will change."

The Counseling syndrome: "I went to my pastor for counseling today...My counselor wants to talk with you too...I’m seeing a professional for my problems and you should too...I’m learning how to control my anger in counseling...Let’s go to marriage counseling and things will be better... Come home, I’ve changed.

The Somebody’s Going to Die syndrome: "I’ll kill myself if you don’t come back... Sweet baby, I really love you and can’t live without you...I’ll kill you and the kids if you don’t come back...I’ve really changed...I’ll kill your family, friends, or co-workers if you don’t come back."

Getting Support

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in virtually all countries, cultures, classes, and income groups. It is a complex and multifaceted problem with individual solutions that are appropriate for different women in different socio-economic contexts.

Both short and long-term measures must be considered. Short-term measures consist of assistance programs that protect the individual woman who has been or is being abused. They often focus on the critical period just after a woman leaves her home, providing her with food, shelter, and guidance. This is the period when a woman is most at risk from the perpetrator seeking retribution, or when she might retun to the home out of a sense of hopelessness. Long-term measures seek to educate the public and empower the woman to re-establish her life without violence.

Any response should involve collaboration among the health, legal, and social sectors, so that the woman is not continually referred to another agency. Some models or such programs include the use of "family crisis centers," or "victim advocates," to act as the woman´s link to the various sectors.

Support can come in various forms:

  • Transportation networks
  • Law that allows perpetrators to be removed from the home and provides for the victim getting full custody of her children.
  • Emotional support
  • Self-help support groups
  • Empowerment modeling
  • Self-esteem and confidence building sessions
  • Parenting support services
  • Advocacy and Legal Assistance
  • Access to a custody of children
  • Property matters
  • Financial support
  • Restraining and protective orders
  • Public assistance benefits
  • Help with immigration status
  • Other support services
  • Housing and safe accommodations
  • Child advocacy groups
  • Access to community services
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Crisis Hot Lines
  • Shelters or other emergency residential facilities


IF YOU ARE STILL IN THE RELATIONSHIP:

  • Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exit (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
  • Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.
  • Keep money with you at all times, especially coins for telephone calls. Do not use your calling card, your abuser can find you through calling records.
  • Memorize all important telephone numbers.
  • Establish a code word or sign so that family, friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
  • Establish a safety plan that provides for sheltering your pet. Be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current.
  • Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence.

IF YOU HAVE LEFT THE RELATIONSHIP:

  • Change your phone number.
  • Screen calls.
  • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries, or other incidents involving the batterer.
  • Change locks if the batterer has a key - avoid staying alone.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by your former partner.
  • If you have to meet your former partner, do so in a public place.
  • Vary your routine.
  • Notify school, work, and child care contacts.
  • Call a domestic violence program for battered women for information, legal referrals, and support.

Click here for a Personal Safety Plan

If you leave the relationship, or are thinking of leaving, take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. Important papers you should take include: social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, your pet’s licenses and proof of vaccinations or veterinary receipts, leases or deeds in your name or both you and your partner’s names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your partner (pay stubs or W-2’s), and any documents of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc...).

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