Domestic Violence, (battering) can assume many forms, from extreme verbal attacks (insults, name calling, blaming) to actual physical attacks (pushing, strangling, hitting, kicking). National surveys have shown that between 25% and 50% in this county have or will experience violence at the hands of their intimate partner. Often the violence occurs in what is known as the battering cycle:
Phase One: Tension Building
The batterer becomes more and more prone to react negatively to frustration. Little episodes of violence occur, but are minimized and rationalized by the couple. The woman may become nurturing and compliant or stay out of his way, whatever she thinks will prevent the violence from escalating. In order for her to maintain this role, she must not show anger.
Phase Two: Acute Battering
This is generally the shortest phase. It is the uncontrollable discharge of the tensions built up in phase one. The batterer usually begins beating the woman "to teach her a lesson," but often severely injures her. The woman does not cause the batterer to emotionally or physically abuse her.
Phase Three: Calm, Loving Respite
In this phase, the batterer behaves in a charming and loving manner. His worst fear is that she will leave him, so he does everything possible to make sure this doesnít happen. He usually says he loves her, promises the violence wonít occur again, and also says he will give up whatever it is they believe is causing the problem. (i.e. drinking, overwork, etc.) There is no distinct end to this phase, but before they know it, the phase one tension starts building again and the cycle begins anew.
Statistics show that once battering begins to occur in a relationship, it will steadily become more frequent and severe. An extremely high percentage of children involved in this type of situation will learn the very same behaviors they are witnessing.
If You Are Being Abused:
- Call the local law enforcement for assistance.
- Seek medical help - Seek help for your injuries. Tell your physician that you are a victim of domestic violence so she/he can treat you thoroughly.
- Call the Family Crisis Center - The staff and volunteer advocates will talk with you, help you to sort out the alternatives available to you, and will discuss your feelings about the violence and your relationship.
You are not Alone:
- Every 18 seconds another woman is beaten.
- Without help, ABUSE GETS WORSE! Unless intervention is sought, the use of violence increases and may end in serious injury or death.
Have a plan of action:
- Memorize your law enforcement telephone number and use it when another episode of violence occurs.
- Keep a spare change of clothes, extra money, spare car and house key and important papers at a friendís house, should you need to leave your home quickly.
SIGNS TO LOOK FOR IN A BATTERING PERSONALITY
- It takes courage to admit that there is a problem.
- It is difficult to change on your own.
- The hardest step is to ask for help.
Many people are interested in ways that they can predict whether they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically abusive. Below is a list of behaviors seen in people who are abusive. If the person has three or more behaviors, there is strong potential for physical violence; the more signs the person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. All batterers possess the last four signs. In some cases, a batterer may have only a couple of behaviors that people can recognize but they are very exaggerated (i.e. extreme jealousy over ridiculous things). Initially, the batterer will try to explain his behavior as signs of his love and concern and a woman may be flattered at first; as time goes on, the behaviors become more severe.
- Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that his jealousy is a sign of love; jealousy has nothing to do with love; it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. He will question the woman about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends or children. As the jealousy progresses, he may call her frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let her work for fear she will meet someone else or even act strange by checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her.
- Controlling Behavior: At first, the batterer will say that this behavior is because he is concerned for the womanís safety, her need to use her time well or her need to make good decisions. He will be angry if the woman is late coming back from the store or an appointment. He will question her closely about where she went and whom she talked to. As this behavior gets worse, he may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing or going to church. He may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or room.
- Quick Involvement: Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. He comes on like a whirlwind claiming love at first sight, he will tell the woman flattering things such as "youíre the only person I could ever talk to", "Iíve never felt loved like this by anyone." He needs someone desperately and will pressure the woman to commit to him.
- Unrealistic Expectations: He is very dependent on the woman for all of his needs; he expects her to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, and friend. He will say things like, "if you love me, Iím all you need - you are all I need." She is supposed to take care of everything for him emotionally and in the home.
- Isolation: The man tries to cut the woman off from all resources. If she has men friends, she is a "whore", if she has women friends, she is a lesbian, if she is close to family, she is "tied to the apron strings." He accuses the people who are her support, of "causing trouble", he may want to live in the country without a phone, he may not let her use the car or he may try to keep her from working or going to school.
- Blames Others For His Problems: If he is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing him wrong, out to get him. He may make mistakes and then blame the woman for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating or doing his job. He will tell the woman she is at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.
- Blames others for his Feelings: He will tell the woman "you make me mad," "youíre hurting me by not doing what I ask," "I canít help being angry." He is the one who actually makes the decision about what he thinks and feels, but will use feelings to manipulate the woman. Harder to catch are his claims that "you make me happy," "you control how I feel."
- Hypersensitivity: The batterer is easily insulted, he claims his feelings are "hurt" when he is really very mad or he takes the slightest set backs as personal attacks. He will "rant and rave" about the injustice of things that have happened to him; things that are really just part of living like being asked to work over-time, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to help with chores.
- Cruelty to Animals or Children: This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain or suffering; he may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability (whips a two year old for wetting their diaper) or he may tease children or young brothers and sisters until they cry. (60% of the men who beat the women they are with also beat their children). He may not want children to eat at the table or expect them to keep to their room all evening while he is home.
- Playful use of Force in Sex: The batterer may like to throw the woman down and hold her down during sex, he may want to act out fantasies during sex where the woman is helpless. He is letting her know that the idea of "rape" excites him. He may show little concern about whether the woman wants to have sex and use sulking or anger to manipulate her into compliance. He may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping or demand sex when she is ill or tired.
- Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen by the man degrading the woman, cursing her, running down any of her accomplishments. The man will tell her that she is stupid and unable to function without him. This may involve waking her up to verbally abuse her or not letting her go to sleep.
- Rigid Sex Roles: The man expects the woman to serve him; will say she must stay at home, that she must obey him in all things; even things that are criminal in nature. The abuser will see women as inferior to men, more stupid and unable to be a whole person without a relationship with a man.
- Past Battering: The man may admit that he has hit women in the past, but they made him do it. The woman may hear from relatives or ex-spouses that the man is abusive. A batterer will beat any woman he is with; circumstances do not make a person an abusive personality.
- Threats of Violence: This would include any threat of physical force meant to control the woman. "Iíll slap your mouth off", "Iíll kill you", and "Iíll break your neck." Most men do not threaten their mates, but a batterer will try to excuse this behavior by saying "everybody else talks like that."
- Breaking or Striking Objects: This behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions) but is mostly used to terrorize the woman into submission. The man may beat on tables with his fist, throw objects around or near the woman. Again, this is a very remarkable behavior; only very immature people beat on objects in the presence of other people in order to threaten them.
- Any Force During an Argument: This may involve a man holding a woman down, physically restraining her from leaving the room any pushing or shoving.
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