Cycle of domestic violence. Break free!

Domestic violence is a cycle repeated with increasing frequency: physical, verbal, spiritual and economic abuse in order to subject a victim to control, intimidation, and fear.

This is a situation in which one person controls, or is trying to control the behavior and feelings of another person. So-called family violence as quite a generalized category, and there are more specific sub-categories, determined by the nature of relations between the offender and the victim, as well as their living conditions.

Domestic violence is a real act or threat of physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse and violence by an abuser towards a victim, with whom an abuser has (or had) an intimate or another kind of close relationships.

As a rule, domestic violence is characterized by following signs:

  • If any kind of physical violence has already happened, with each subsequent turn the frequency of its repetition and degree of severity is increased.

  • Violence and abusive behavior is alternated with promises of change and apology by the offender.

  • When you try to leave from abusive partner, a risk to the victim is increased.

Domestic violence occurs in all layers and categories of the population, regardless of class, racial, cultural, religious, socio-economic aspects. It is equally possible in heterosexual families and gay or lesbian couples.

The cycle of domestic violence

Violence usually develops in a standard way. The cycle of domestic violence has three phases:

1. Tension – occasional outbreaks of insults. Women tend to react calmly, trying to discharge a situation or trying to defend her position in the family. Both partners may justify an abusive behavior of a man or his reaction with stress because of work, money problems, etc. With increasing stress a woman’s ability to balance becoming weaker. At this stage, for women, it is better to find support and help (and such support and help is most effective).

2. Acute violence happening in the most negative way. Fits of anger so intense that the abuser can not deny their existence, and a woman can not deny that they have a strong influence on her. Usually woman feels an approach of such a situation in advance, with a growing fear and depression. Acute violence exists because man chooses a violent way of resolution of his tension. After that stage there usually comes a denial of the seriousness of the incident by an abuser, and a victim may need a medical help. At this stage, the woman should realize that anticipation of expected act of violence can and should be avoided, and she should leave home, go to shelter, call friends for help.

3. “Honeymoon”. During this period, a man can be kind, loving, play guilty, promise to never repeat the violence or, on the contrary, to accuse a woman that she has provoked violence. During this period woman may feel happy, believe that this person is sorry and will change. This is the time when a it is most difficult for a woman to leave, but she must remember that, once happened, violence is likely to continue with a gradual increase.

Psychological mechanisms that cause victim mentality in women.

  • Childhood of a victim: maybe, a violence was common in the family in which she grew up: her father could beat her mother, brothers and sisters may beat each other.

  • Financial dependence: wishing to have some sort of financial security for herself and her children, having limited assistance from the state; can not earn as much as a man, abuser controls the money

Fears of victims of domestic violence:

  • Woman is usually afraid that there is no way to protect herself, even if the police comes and arrests him. The woman is sure: if she reports him, he will take a revenge on her or do some harm to someone she loves or anything that is valuable for it (children, pets, etc.). She sacrifices himself for the sake of a quiet life of others.

  • If she reports him, the husband loses his job and everything will become much worse.

  • No one will believe her.

  • They may lose their children because the court decides that they are unable to stop the violence in the family, or the court will give custody of the children to her husband.

  • She may be afraid that people will turn away from her. This is especially true for small towns, ethnic or strict religious communities.

  • She may be an illegal alien and will have problems with immigration if she reports him.

  • She can be a lesbian, or belong to ethnic minority and for this reason she may be afraid of unfair treatment.

  • In some cultures, people are wary of the police, social care and government representatives.

  • She will not ask for help because of pride or because of ignorance of the existence of a system that is able to protect her.

Social isolation of abused women: Keep it secret.

  • A person who beats her can destroy all her other relationships.

  • Isolation support abuser’s belief in his omnipotence.

  • Victim may not be aware of existing social help institutions.

  • Representatives of health services do not collect accurate information about the nature of damage.

  • People and representatives of relevant services tired to help women who are trying to get away from the abusers, but were unable to do so.

  • Keeping secret means that there are no people who could help her, or that the couple discovers that a relationship based on violence is a serious problem.

  • All this may lead to depression and substance abuse

What abused woman think about her abuser:

  • That she still loves him and depends on him emotionally

  • That only she can help him to solve his problem, to get rid of alcohol addiction and depression

  • She is convinced that as soon as he stops drinking or taking drugs, violence will stop

How to break away from the cycle of domestic violence?

Safety plan for victims of domestic abuse

  • Think about your actions in case if an act of violence happens again.

  • Tell your trusted ones (friends, family) about violence

  • Find a place where you could get away in case of danger.

Security plan:

  • If the violent incident can not be avoided, try to choose a room from which you can, if necessary, get out easily. Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, or in the kitchen, where there are sharp and cutting objects.

  • Practice how to quickly and safely get out of the house. Identify which doors, windows, elevators or stairs are suitable for this.

  • Make an agreement with neighbors, so they call a police if they hear noises and cries in your place.

  • Hide spare keys from your house (car) so even if he takes them, you still can quickly leave a house in case of danger.

  • In a safe but accessible place, hide a necessary amount of money, a phone-book with necessary numbers, your passport or ID, documents on children and other important papers, as well as some clothes and necessary medicines.

  • Discuss in advance with friends or relatives about a possibility of providing you with temporary shelter in case of danger.

  • Try to destroy all traces that could help an abuser to find where you are (notebooks, envelopes with addresses, etc.)

  • Check in advance for phone numbers of local services that can provide you with the necessary support (crisis center for women, helpline, etc.).

  • Decide in advance what valuables (jewelry, etc.) you will take with you. In case of emergency you can always sell them.

  • If the situation is critical, leave the house immediately, even if you did not manage to take the necessary things. Your life is more important!

But first of all, you will need to work with your victim mentality, because that is what is keeping you trapped in . A help of professional psychologist or engaging in some serious self-help work will help you get free once and for all. Without eradicating your sense of a victim, you will keep getting in abusive relationships again and again.