Most violent men have a specific behavior. It is very important to be able to distinguish its features.
Characteristics of a potential abusive person:
- tries to isolate you from meetings with friends or relatives, he tries to control your contacts, claiming that they are the source of family problems;
- manifests a pathological jealousy, finding in it an excuse for his controlling behavior;
- constantly asks you or forces you to do what you don’t like;
- regularly transfers the blame for his actions to others;
- shows resentment towards children or animals;
- is aggressive and rude to you;
- is often subjected to a visible change in emotional state, accompanied by “outbursts” of irritability;
- threatens corporal punishment;
- is rude in sexual relations, regardless of your preferences;
- threatens to take your children, to separate you from them;
- resorts to suicide threats if you try to end the relationship;
- witnessed domestic violence in his own family;
- has the experience of an aggressor in relation to a previous partner.
How can you protect yourself if you live with the aggressor?
- Make a prior arrangement with your neighbors to call the police if they hear noises and screams in your home.
- Hide the spare keys of the house (car) so that in case of danger you can take them and leave the house quickly.
- In a safe but accessible place for you, hide the necessary amount of money, a book with phone numbers, passport, marriage certificate, children’s documents, other important documents, as well as some necessary clothes and medicines.
- Make an advance agreement with friends or relatives about the possibility of providing you with temporary shelter in case of danger.
- Do your best to prevent the abuser from finding you by hiding or destroying any records and addresses he may find (notebooks, address envelopes, Internet mail history, etc.).
- Decide in advance what valuables (for example, jewelry) you will take with you. In case of urgent need, they can always be sold or pledged.
- If the situation is critical, leave the house immediately, even if you could not take the necessary things.
How do you act if you live with the aggressor and you cannot leave the place?
- If there is a weapon in the house, think about how you can get rid of it.
- If there is a phone in the house, think about who you can call in times of danger? Who could you call for help?
- In a critical situation, lock yourself in the bathroom with your phone and try to call the police so that they can intervene and detain the abuser.
- If there is no phone or it is impossible to use it, you can give the neighbors conventional signals (tapping in battery, pipe, wall, ceiling).
- You can open the windows and try to get the attention of passers-by, ask them for help, shout “Fire”.
- If you managed to get out on the stairs, then knock on all the doors, shout, call for help. Even if no one comes out, at least this might calm the abuser and you will have witnesses to the incident if you go to the police.
What can you do if you live separately, but the aggressor continues to threaten you?
- Create your own security system: replace door and window locks, install bars if possible, good lighting.
- Ask someone to live with you so that you are not alone.
- Explain to the children how to call the police, call family members, friends or other people who could help you in a situation of violence.
- Discuss about the danger with school and kindergarten staff and give them clear instructions on who has the right to take children and who does not.
- Consider how safe your commute to work or your children’s trip to school is.
- Contact a support service for survivors of violence, for example, a women’s help center (crisis center, shelter, etc.), where specialists can help you finding the right solution for your safety.
Domestic violence always develops cyclically and consists of three phases.
- Tension Increasing.
- This phase is characterized by occasional outbursts of insults, which can be verbal or emotional.
- These outbreaks are different in intensity from what is usually expected of a partner.
- The woman’s reaction can be calm or protective.
- Both partners at this time can try to justify the aggressor’s behavior, motivating violent manifestations through stress at work, legal or financial problems, poor health and other life situations.
- The duration of this phase for different relationships can vary from a few days to a few months. However, as tensions increase, the woman’s ability to adjust to the situation loses its effectiveness.
- Violence itself.
- This is the phase of severe violence. It is characterized by intense discharge, destructive actions and extreme emotional outbursts in their most negative form.
- Anger attacks are so strong that the aggressor can no longer deny their existence, and the woman can only admit that they have a strong influence on her.
- In such a situation, the woman may even try to accelerate the act of violence to alleviate this growing tension, because she no longer has the strength to bear it. But more often the man himself chooses a violent way to clarify things.
- This is the shortest phase and can take between 2 and 24 hours. After that, there is usually some kind of awareness on the part of the aggressor and denial of the seriousness of what happened.
- In this phase, a man can transform and become very loving, he can express remorse for what he did. He can become a wonderful father and husband and can promise that this will never happen again. Or, on the contrary, to accuse the woman that she provoked the violence, “brought him to this gesture”, but from now on he will control himself.
- At this stage, the aggressor himself may believe that the situation will change, but the mechanisms of violence continue to work. The man won a “victory” over the woman, and now he wants to keep it.
- During this period, it is very likely that a man will continue to use other types of violence: economic control, emotional abuse. The woman during this period convinces herself that the relationship will remain forever in this phase.
The most important thing to be aware of is that once it takes place, the violence will almost always be repeated. Tension will rise again, and more frequent outbursts of aggression will indicate the onset of the first phase of already familiar violence. Everything will happen again.
- MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A FAMILY ISSUE, NOT A SOCIAL ONE
Reality: Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a serious, widespread crime, regardless of whether it occurs in the family or in the public sphere. Under international human rights conventions, such as CEDAW or the Istanbul Convention (CAHVIO), states are not only encouraged to eliminate all forms of violence against women, but are obliged to do so.
- MYTH: WOMEN ARE THE ONES THAT CAUSE ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Reality: In a situation of domestic violence, nothing depends on the woman’s behavior. Most victims say that their husbands often find completely contradictory reasons to insult or beat them. Is anyone thinking of accusing a passerby who has been beaten or robbed by hooligans? Not. While in cases of domestic violence another logic begins to work and there are no questions about the crime (beating, rape), but about the victim’s behavior.
- MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OCCURS ONLY IN SOCIALLY VULNERABLE FAMILIES
Reality: Domestic violence, like the epidemic, chooses victims from no specific social or ethnic group; it is present in families from different segments of society. Aggressors can be representatives of different professions. They can be people with or without higher education. This is confirmed by the vast experience of specialists from many countries around the world.
- MYTH: I ENDURE FOR THE CHILDREN’S SAKE. THEY NEED A FATHER
Reality: Children need both mother and father. But at the same time, they need their love, care, support and understanding. When the child lives in a situation of stress and tension, aggression and violence – all this affects his mental health. A man who is aggressive towards his wife is also aggressive towards his children. According to statistics, 90% of street children with parents leave their families due to the unbearable environment, including domestic violence.
- MYTH: THE ALCOHOL IS GUILTY FOR EVERYTHING
Reality: The alcohol certainly reduces the ability to respond appropriately to different situations. But this is just one reason for a woman to explain her partner’s inappropriate behavior. There are many men who lead a healthy lifestyle among aggressors, and some of those who have been treated for alcoholism have continued to be aggressive. Therefore, alcoholism is not an excuse for violence, but just a permission.
- MYTH: WOMEN ARE EQUALLY AGGRESSIVE AGAINST MEN
Reality: Studies conducted in different countries of the world indicate that in 95% of cases of domestic violence, women are victims of aggression and even killed by their husbands. Usually, women who end up committing a crime have endured threats, beatings and humiliation from their husbands over the years.
- MYTH: IF ABUSED WOMEN DON’T LEAVE IT MEANS THEY LIKE IT
Reality: Of course, no one wants to endure beatings and insults. Most often, victims of domestic violence depend on aggressors: common children, common real estate, financial dependence do not allow them to leave.
Among friends, colleagues and relatives, the abuser can be considered a respected person and a good family man. That is why victims of domestic violence are often not given support and credibility by saying: “It’s your fault” or “You had to think about who to marry.”
Another reason is the cyclical nature of violence. After the violence, the aggressors, as a rule, apologize, assuring them that this will never happen again. Thus the woman wants to believe in good things.
In families with children, domestic tyrants can threaten to take them. There are cases in which the woman does not want the children to grow up in a incomplete family and for their sake decides to continue living with the aggressor. However, this has a very negative impact on the child. Doctors have shown that violence against the mother affects the child’s mental health.
From the multitude of myths that exist in society, we can outline the following conclusions: victims of domestic violence need protection and professional assistance: access to free psychological and legal assistance, crisis centers where they could stay with their children for a while, measures protection from the state, etc.