WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors with the purpose to manipulate and control the victim within the context of an intimate relationship. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner's consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
The abuser can exert their control through the following forms of violence:
Any act or behavior that inflicts or is intended to inflict bodily harm.
Any sexual activity forced on a person without his or her consent, whether by a stranger, acquaintance, dating partner, or spouse.
Any systematic attempt to destroy a person's sense of self-worth.
THE CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The offender may also use economic or psychological abuse to maintain or exert power over their partner. Economic abuse is where the offender controls the victim's access to money in an attempt to make them financially dependent on their abuser. Psychological abuse involves causing fear through intimidation which usually involves threating to hurt themselves or victim's family, friends, children, partner or pets or the destruction of property.
Violence does not go away on its own. In fact, domestic violence usually escalates over time, becoming more frequent and severe.
The power and control wheel is an excellent resource that helps explain the various methods of power and control the abuser uses to maintain their power over the victim.
Source: The Untited States Department of Justice
PHASE 1: TENSION BUILDING
The non-abusive partner is nurturing and compliant. He/she walks on eggshells and covers up for the abusive partner's behavior with friends and family. The non-abusive partner accepts full blame for any problems and feels it is her/his responsibility to keep the peace. He/she often compromises his/her own needs and wishes to keep the abusive partner from becoming violent. The abusive partner's behavior escalates, and he/she becomes jealous, more controlling, and verbally abusive. A rapid increase in tension ensues.
PHASE 2: ACUTE BATTERING INCIDENT/CRISIS PHASE
The non-abusive partner can no longer tolerate her/his terror, anxiety and anger, and at this stage sometimes will encourage the inevitable to hasten the end of this phase. It is during this phase that acts of violence occur. People are often killed during this phase, by the violence and/or in self-defense. Some people report that they dissociate from their bodies during this phase and feel nothing.
PHASE 3: ENTRAPMENT, "HONEYMOON," REBONDING
Both partners welcome Phase 3. The batterer is extremely loving and kind, begging for forgiveness and promising change. The battering partner convinces everyone (including self) that change will occur. Flowers, cards, and letters are often sent to the non-abusive partner. At the same time, the battering partner believes he/she has taught the partner a lesson. The non-abusive partner wants to believe change will occur. Both partners often rebond in warmth and intimacy. Another piece of this phase is that the abusive partner threatens suicide: "If I can't have you then I don't want to live." The non-abusive partner is once again placed in a position of responsibility and, if separated from batterer, will often reattach during this phase.
STATISTICS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.
Source: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence