You hear about domestic violence in the news, through television shows, even in some songs. You hear about it but are you truly understanding what Domestic Violence is if you have never been exposed to it? Put your feet in these shoes and hear what is said, what is done and how one copes in domestic violence:
|First some facts:
In the US, an average of 20 PEOPLE experiences intimate partner physical violence EVERY MINUTE = more than 10 MILLION Annually.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence.
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
Cycle of violence:
The cycle of violence consists of 4 different stages: The Incident, Making up, Calm, and Tension building. This is the common cycle for a survivor of domestic violence. See what it is like going through the minds of a victim and abuser during each stage of the cycle….
Her: He began by grabbing me by the shoulder and pushed me into the cabinet drawers. Before I knew it, he was on top of me slapping my face, punching my nose as he pinned me to the floor. There is no way I am going to the gym now.
Him: I just touched her shoulder and she became hysterical. The next thing I knew she was on the floor. She was screaming at me and calling me names for no reason. All because I asked her where she was going.
2. Making up:
Her: He made me dinner and the next morning I woke up with roses by my bed.
Him: She looked so peaceful sleeping there. I know she is sorry for how she acted.
Her: He just cares so much about me. He didn’t mean to do anything. I freaked out for nothing.
Him: She knows I care about her. The only reason she has those bruises is because she became hysterical and I had to restrain her.
Her: I should be more sensitive to the stress he’s under.
Him: She’s going to love the roses I gave her.
Her: It’s been great, lately. He’s been home for dinner almost every night. He told me that I am getting close to making spaghetti almost as good as his mom’s.
Him: She’s been able to control herself lately, not so emotional. I hate it when it’s that time of the month.
Her: He has been playful with the kids and it’s nice to see him smile. He even brought me some new workout clothes. I think things are only going to get better.
Him: She liked the work-out clothes I gave her. I think she will find them much more comfortable than those skin-tight things she was wearing.
4. Tension Building:
Her: Where does the time go? I have been trying to keep the house organized because he is under so much pressure at work. I want everything to be perfect. The kids are sick, the dog too. I have been cleaning up after all of them all day long. I need to get the roast in the oven!
Him: The minute I get home, I walk in the door and step in dog-puke! I am going to end up taking a bat to that hound if she doesn’t keep him under control.
Her: I got him a drink and told him dinner was almost ready. He started yelling at me because he expects dinner to be on the table when he gets home. Hopefully, he’ll calm down when he sees I made his favorite meal.
Him: Today was ridiculous at work. All I want to do is come home to a calm home, with dinner on the table. No one listens to me.
Her: I just don’t understand what happened. It’s like walking on eggshells the entire time he is home
Him: The kids are still in their pajamas; she is wearing sweats and sweatshirt – nothing pleasant to see there. I don’t know what she is cooking but it smells awful.
Her: He is in a mood today. He didn’t like the dinner. He screamed at the kids because they were whining, and the dog has been locked out of the house for the past three hours.
Him: I don’t know what she does all day. It sure as hell isn’t cleaning. Where is my beer! She needs to get her fat ass in gear and get it for me!
Her: I … am … trying…to…keep…from… crying. I just took his beer to him and he backhanded me in the face telling me that next time I need to be faster about getting it to him. I know when he is like this, he doesn’t want to hear me cry.
What to expect when you reach out for help:
As a victim advocate, when I meet with a survivor my number one priority is to provide a non-judgmental, safe and confidential place for a survivor to share their story with me. My main concern when speaking with a survivor is their safety; physically and emotionally. Many women minimize their degree of abuse and it is important to understand how lethal their situation is in order to properly safety plan with someone.
Safety planning can consist of their emotional well-being, making sure they have someone to talk or have support. For most survivors, the abuser has isolated them from family or friends, and they have lost connections with a lot of their support system. Getting them our crisis hotline number is important because someone is available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. It makes a huge impact to let the victim/survivor know that there is ALWAYS someone to listen and be there for them. Throughout my time working with a survivor one of the things we can work on is rebuilding those relationships in which he/she has lost along the way.
Another important aspect when working with survivor is their physical safety. Are they still living with their abuser? What is their biggest concern? What is she most afraid of? Many women are safety planning on a daily basis and don’t even realize it. They know their situation better than anyone else; they know how their abuser operates and thinks, what to expect- what not to expect. Listening and letting the survivor take the lead on their safety is crucial. As an advocate I am here to continue to empower them and help with tips along the way.
The cycle of violence can continue for months and even years. Everyone has a different story and meeting with an advocate is dependent on where the survivor is in their process. This on-going cycle gets extremely exhausting for a survivor and it’s important to know that there are people and places out there to help them; Common Ground is one of them. We meet them where they are in this process. Our services consist of crisis intervention, criminal justice advocacy, as well as, accompaniment to hospitals, courts and medical screenings related to their victimization. Our overall goal and mission are clear, we help people move from crisis to hope.
If you are in need of our Victim Assistance Program services or need to speak to an advocate, please contact our 24-hour Crisis line at 1-800-231-1127.
Co-Author: Emily Norton, Resource and Crisis Helpline Specialist at Common Ground
Co-Author: Alexandra Wyatt, Victim Advocate at Common Ground