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 Domestic Violence

Victim Services: Domestic Violence
Protection From Abuse Information

The mission of the Wise Options Domestic Violence Program is to provide shelter, counseling, and advocacy services to abused partners and their children, to reduce violence and the impact of violence on their lives, and to provide education to the community about domestic violence. 

Effects of Abusive Relationships
domestic violenceThe Victim Services Unit thinks that you should know some of these signs of Domestic Abuse. Violence does not end immediately with separation since 73% of the women injured in domestic violence cases were injured after separation. There is help and information available for you to break this cycle of violence.
Stress Problems in Abused Children
  • serious problems with temper tantrums
  • continual fighting at school or between siblings
  • lashing out at objects, inside or outside of the home
  • treating pets cruelly or abusively
  • threatening younger sister or brother with violence For instance, "You get over here with my teddy bear or I'll kill you. I'll slice you into little pieces with a knife"
  • attempting to get attention through hitting, kicking or choking
  • modeling after dad--"Monkey see, monkey do"
  • withdrawal
  • signs not so obvious
  • occasional cringing if you raise your arm
Progression of Violence
  • Beginning levels: pushing, grabbing, restraining.
  • Moderate levels: slapping, pinching, kicking, pulling out clumps of hair.
  • Severe levels: choking, beating with objects (sticks, ball bats, bed slats, etc...), use of weapons, and rape. One in three women in a battering relationship are raped. There are two kinds of rape in domestic violence--one, with weapons; and two, she submits out of fear that is she were to say "No" he would get angry and beat her.
Signs of Rehabilitation
  • Your partner accepts responsibility for his violence.
  • Your partner goes into treatment without the victim.
  • Your partner goes into treatment with no strings attached--not "I'll go if you will come back," this is an effort to regain control.
Common Characteristics of a Battered Woman
  • low self esteem
  • believes all the mythic about battering relationships
  • is a traditionalist about the home, may strongly believe in family unity and the prescribed feminine sex-role stereotype
  • accepts responsibility for the batterer's actions
  • suffers from guilt, yet deny the terror and anger she feels
  • has severe stress reactions with psychophysiological complaints
  • uses sex as a way to establish intimacy
  • believes that no one will be able to help her resolve her predicament
Common Characteristics of a Male Batterer
  • low self esteem
  • believes all the myths about battering relationships
  • is a traditionalist believing in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine sex role in the family
  • blames others for his actions
  • is pathologically jealous
  • presents a dual personality
  • has severe stress reactions during which he uses drinking and battering to cope
  • frequently use sex as an act of aggression to enhance his self-esteem in view of waning virility
  • does not believe his violent behavior should have negative consequences
Similarities in Stories of Battered Spouses
  • initial surprise
  • unpredictability of acute battering incidents
  • overwhelming jealousy
  • unusual sexuality
  • lucid recall of the details of acute battering incidents
  • concealment
  • drinking
  • extreme psychological abuse
  • family threats
  • extraordinary terror through the use of guns and knives
  • omnipotence
  • awareness of death potential
Dangers For Women After Separation
Many, perhaps most, people believe that battered women will be safe once they separate from the batterer. They also believe that women are free to leave abusers at any time. However, leaving does not usually put an end to the violence. Batterers may, in fact, escalate their violence to coerce a battered woman into reconciliation or to retaliate for the battered woman's perceived rejection or abandonment of the batterer. Men, who believe they are entitled to a relationship with battered women or that they "own" their female partner, view women's departure as an ultimate betrayal which justifies retaliation. (Saunders & Browne, 1990; Dutton, 1988; Bernard el at, 1982)

Evidence of the gravity of separation violence is overwhelming:
  • Up to 3/4 of domestic assaults reported to law enforcement agencies were inflicted after separation of the couples.
    (U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1983)
  • One study reveals that 73% of the battered women seeking emergency medical services sustained injuries after leaving the batterer.
    (Starks et al, 1981)
  • In a study of women seeking divorce in Philadelphia in 1986, 11% of the women reported that they were assaulted during separation even though they had not been abused during co-habitation. 32.6% of the women said that they were fearful during negotiations for child custody, about 22% stated that they were fearful of retaliatory violence during negotiations for child support and 27.7% fearful during negotiations for property. 13% of the women in the study stated that they gave up legal rights because of their fear of retaliatory violence. 
    (Kurz & Coughey, 1989)
  • Almost 1/4 of the women killed by their male partners in one study in Philadelphia and Chicago were separated or divorced from the men who killed them. 28.6% of the women were attempting to end the relationship when they were killed. (Casanave and Zahn, 1986) In one study of spousal homicide, over half of the male defendants were separated from their victims.
    (Bernard et al, 1982).
  • Women are most likely to be murdered when attempting to report abuse or to leave an abusive relationship.
    (Sonkin et al, 1985; Browne)
Sweet Baby Syndrome
(how he gets to come back)
  1. Honeymoon Syndrome: also known as "Hearts and Flowers" any bribe that will get her to return to him.

  2. Super Dad Syndrome: he tells her that he will be a great dad if she returns. This works especially if he has neglected the kids in the past.

  3. Revival Syndrome: this is not really a valid revival or salvation since he has probably only gone to church a few times. "I have been going to church every Sunday since you left." I have accepted Christ into my life." He puts the responsibility for his battering on God.

  4. Sobriety Syndrome: "If he can stop drinking he will stop beating me" Drinking does not cause beating- if it did, then they would beat strangers on the street.

  5. Counseling Syndrome: "I have gone to counseling, I won't do it anymore." Long term counseling is needed and less that 1% voluntarily go into counseling.
Long Term Effects on Women and Children
Battered women lose their jobs because of absenteeism due to illness as a result of the violence. Absences occasioned by court appearances also jeopardize women's livelihood. Battered women may have to move many times to avoid violence. Moving is costly and can interfere with continuity of employment. Battered women often lose family and friends as a result of the battering. First, the batterer isolates them from family and friends. Battered women then become embarrassed by the abuse inflicted upon them and withdraw from support persons to avoid embarrassment.

Some battered women have lost their religious communities when separating from abusers because religious doctrine prohibits separation or divorce whatever the severity of abuse.

Many battered women have had to forgo financial security during divorce proceedings to avoid further abuse. (Kurz & Coghey, 1989) As a result they are impoverished as they grow older. (Marshall & Sisson, 1987)

One-third of the children who witness the battering of their mothers demonstrate significant behavioral and/or emotional problems, including psychosomatic disorders, stuttering, anxiety and fears, sleep disruption, excessive crying and school problems. (Jaffe et al, 1990; Hilberman & Munson, 1977-78)

Those boys who witness their fathers' abuse of their mothers are more likely to inflict severe violence as adults. (Hotaling & Sugerman, 1986) Data suggest that girls who witness maternal abuse may tolerate abuse as adults more than girls who do not. (Hotaling & sugarman, 1986) These negative effects may be diminished if the child benefits from intervention by the law and domestic violence programs. (Giles-Sims,1985)

The long-term effects of child sexual abuse include "depression and self-destructive behavior, anger and hostility, poor self-esteem, feelings of isolation and stigma, difficulty in trusting others (especially men), and martial and relationship problems, and a tendency toward revictimization." (Finkelhor & Brown, 1988) Other effects identified include runaway behavior, hysterical seizures, compulsive rituals, drug and school problems. (Conte, 1988)

Women's Reaction to Domestic Violence
  • Denial or minimization of the abuse: "It really wasn't that bad." He only hits me every few months.
  • Blames herself: He tells her "You make me mad!" Then if she can figure out how to make him happy, she can prevent the battering.
  • Seeks help: she goes to friends, relatives, clergy, shelters, or even to a motel.
  • Ambivalence: the woman can work on her ambivalence will be more successful.
All of these can be going on at once, they are not necessarily single steps.

Make a Separation Safety Plan
Because leaving may be dangerous- dangerous from the point that the batterer learns that the relationship may end- does not mean that the battered partner should stay. Cohabiting with the batterer is highly dangerous both as violence usually increases in frequency and severity over time and as a batterer may engage in preemptive strikes, fearing abandonment or anticipating separation even before the battered partner reaches such a decision. Although leaving may pose additional hazards, at least in the short run, the research data and our experience as advocates for battered partners demonstrates that ultimately a battered partner can best achieve safety and freedom apart from the batterer.

Leaving will require strategic planning and legal intervention to avert separation violence and to safeguard victims and their children. Law enforcement advocates, and battered partners must work in partnership to assure that the separation process is safeguarded against batterer violence.

Victim Services can help you make a Separation Safety Plan. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline to speak to someone who can help you separate from your partner.