Part 1: Understanding Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse and violence is an insidious part of our society prevalent at all socio-economic levels. In any type of abuse, a woman is marginalized and damaged as a human being. In most cases the abuser is her husband, partner, or male relative. It’s not something that anyone talks about because of the shame and fear that the woman feels – for herself and her children. This series brings out some aspects of how to deal with abuse. Don’t be a VICTIM! The sad fact is that often many of us are BYSTANDERS to the abuse we know or suspect is happening close to us. Don’t be a bystander!
Part 1 of this series helps one understand some aspects of domestic violence and Part 2 helps one build an action plan for safety.
Understanding and Recognizing Abuse: Domestic violence is not just physical. It can include: emotional abuse such as humiliating someone (especially in front of family and friends); verbal abuse such as shouting or calling names; social abuse, such as controlling whom you can see or not see; stalking; making excessive calls, texts or messages; and, spiritual abuse such as controlling one’s spiritual or cultural choices. These forms of non-physical abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. You need to recognize this and take appropriate action as soon as possible.
Remember that domestic violence is a crime. You do not have to remain a victim! You can call the local law enforcement and support agencies for help.
Understanding the Abuser: Many abuse victims hope that the abuser will change and seek couples counseling to work on the issue. Understand that abuse is the problem with the abuser and not a shared issue. Since they are often master manipulators, couples counseling is unlikely to deal with the issue because the abuser can make it seem like the victim’s fault.
At times, the abuse can be worse after a session. Even mediation is not helpful and can exacerbate the problem. The abuser needs individual counseling to help him deal with his abusive and violent behavior. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. You have the right to live without the hurt, pain and fear of abuse.
Impact on Your Children: Many women put up with abuse ‘for the sake of their children’. The truth is that being in an abusive home has harmful effects on kids. Don’t think for a moment that they don’t know what’s going on – they do! And, they often blame themselves for the violence and tension in their homes. They experience the trauma of violence and disruption in ways that impact their emotional and psychological development.
Other ways that your children may be affected include: developing low self-esteem, shame, aggressive behavior, physical symptoms, problems with school work, becoming a perpetrator of bullying, and self-harm. It is likely that they will learn to mirror behavior of either being a victim or being an abuser – you want neither of these for your kids.
The Cycle of Violence: Abuse and battering incidents follow a cycle of violence that keeps the victim locked in to the pattern and makes it difficult for them to get out. It makes the woman feel guilty, ashamed and responsible for her partner’s violence. The three phases are: tension building phase; the violent episode; and the loving reconciliation.
In the tension building phase the woman senses her partner’s increasing agitation. He lashes out in anger and starts calling her names or demeaning her verbally. The woman tries her best to make her partner feel less upset with her, and starts to put up with all his unreasonable demands. As she does this her feelings of worthlessness, vulnerability and loss of control increase.
This phase ends with an explosion of violence – the violent episode. The batterer is out of control and the woman is at a loss to figure out what has triggered it leaving her helpless and confused.
The loving reconciliation is the biggest deception because the abuser is remorseful and goes out of his way to win her back with apologies, gifts and gestures of love. He makes her believe that he can change and it won’t happen again. Unfortunately, this cycle keeps spiraling in upward intensity and seldom stops on its own. By now physical and psychological damage is done not only on the woman but also on the children.
Don’t be a Victim! And, Don’t be a bystander! There are steps that YOU can take, or encourage a victim to take to stop domestic violence. Working with a counselor is one such step. If you would like to talk to someone who can support you in this difficult situation, then please reach out in complete confidence to us on http://talkitover.in/support/.