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Domestic Abuse

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UK announced in 2014 that a new domestic abuse offence of “coercive and controlling behavior” was to be introduced, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison – as well as a fine. This was to help victims identify the behavior they are suffering as wrong and encourage them to report it, as well as cause perpetrators to rethink their controlling behavior. Controlling or coercive behavior does not relate to a single incident alone, but it is a purposeful pattern of behavior which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another individual.  Controlling behavior is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior.…

In listening to a survivor’s story, your response can have an enormous impact on that person’s healing journey. I want to point you to some tools—words, actions and resources—that can help you support someone who shares their personal experience(s) with you. Although you can never take away what happened to someone, you can be a source of comfort.  Just remember, if someone shares their story with you, that means you’re probably already a person they look to for support, compassion and guidance. You don’t have to be an expert—you just have to be yourself and a friend. Knowing what to say to someone who may be experiencing domestic or sexual violence can be overwhelming and downright scary. Though it may be tough, you can still be of some help. In addition to the info below, there are some advocacy/healing based organisations and hotlines that offer free, confidential services to anyone who has been affected…

Non-victims of domestic abuse might find it hard to understand why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. Victims are often blamed. Some people falsely believe that if a person stays, she or he must be weak or needy. This is not true. The reasons for staying vary from one victim to the next, and they usually involve several factors. There is so much judgment surrounding domestic abuse — so much victim blaming. I’ve come across some really heart-breaking assessments of victims of domestic abuse, sometimes people would warn men not to date women who stayed in abusive relationships in the past, on the grounds that, since she didn’t leave right away, she is clearly a damaged person who makes poor choices and probably even enjoys being abused. (I wish I was kidding about this.) This judgment exists because we as a society have this preconceived notion of what domestic abuse looks…

Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on children and young people that can last into adulthood. Domestic abuse services offer specialist emotional and practical support for children and young people affected by domestic abuse. Are the effects the same for every child? Children can experience both short and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects as a result of witnessing domestic abuse. Each child will respond differently to trauma and some may be resilient and not exhibit any negative effects. Children’s responses to the trauma of witnessing domestic abuse may vary according to a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, age, race, sex and stage of development. It is equally important to remember that these responses may also be caused by something other than witnessing domestic abuse. Children are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. These are some of the effects described in a…

Myth: Middle class women are not at risk of experiencing domestic abuse. Fact: Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse. Myth: Some people deserve to be abused; they are responsible for the violence because they know how to provoke it. Fact: No one deserves to be abused. The only person responsible for the abuse is the abuser. Physical violence, even among family members, is wrong and against the law. Myth: If the victim didn’t like it, they would leave. Fact: There are many reasons why a person may not leave, including fear for themselves, their children and assets. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused. The most dangerous time for a person who is being abused is when they try to leave or after they…

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence: Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.” Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his or her abusive behavior. Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility. “Normal” behavior – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time. Fantasy and…