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Down and Dirty Domestic Violence Education

My professor, Ms. Baker, discussed domestic violence in class tonight. This is really quite remarkable as the class is a Theories of Personality class and domestic violence doesn’t really fit in as subject matter. She said that during her education, she was not presented with specific information about her interest in domestic abuse, and she doubted that domestic violence would be covered in any of our other courses.

From what I’ve seen so far (I’m a junior), she’s right. Even my abnormal psychology course left out discussion of domestic abuse despite my breach of the topic on the discussion board. No one wanted to talk about it. Domestic violence really is a silent experience for most people.

However, due to my lack of shame on the topic, I’ll talk about domestic abuse with anyone who wants to discuss it. I was abused and I was ashamed; that is not the case anymore. The abuse was not my fault, it was his fault. I wish I had responded to the abuses differently, but I didn’t, and now I know better. From here on out, my life will continue to improve.

So, my hat is off to Ms. Baker who took the opportunity to expose our class to the paradoxes of abuse in hope that when her students become therapists we will remember that domestic abuse is a complicated topic without easy solutions, to say the least.

Components of Domestic Abuse and Violence

Verbal, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and physical abuse are components of domestic violence. Many examples of abuse fall into more than one category. For example, telling someone they’re “stupid” (verbal abuse) crosses into emotional abuse, especially when the abuse has gone on for a while and the victim is willing to entertain the idea that they may actually be stupid (and worthless, and unable to care for themselves, and better off staying with the abuser due to the aforementioned “stupidity”).

Types of Physical Abuse

Probably the most clear-cut examples of abuse fall into the physical abuse category. Of course

  • hitting,
  • punching,
  • biting,
  • kicking,
  • scratching,
  • choking,
  • pushing/pulling,
  • grabbing/restraining, and
  • cutting or stabbing

are examples of physical abuse.

However, physical abuse can occur without leaving an obvious mark and merges with other types of abuse, too (i.e. sleep deprivation, electric shock/tazering, non-consensual excessive tickling, blocking exits, withholding food or water, et cetera). Some consider sexual abuse to be a form of physical abuse too.

The thing many people do not remember when their loved one finally admits to being physically abused is that the relationship probably did not start out with physical violence. I say probably because my professor said that sometimes the first hit causes a person to fall victim without a hint of verbal or emotional abuse in the past. I’ll take her word for it – she’s worked in this field for many years and I am but one abuse victim.

Types of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

However, for the most part, physically abused people endured a lot of verbal and emotional abuse before the physical abuse began. The abuse victim experiences constant

  • belittling/diminishing,
  • name-calling,
  • gaslighting,
  • accusing,
  • blaming,
  • judging/criticizing,
  • ordering,
  • bullying,
  • isolation,
  • abandonment,
  • financial abuse,
  • control tactics/manipulation,
  • abusive anger,
  • cruel jokes, and
  • outright brainwashing

to the point of being literally beside themselves with confusion, self-doubt and fear.

And then the physical abuse occurs.

The Completion of the Cycle of Violence

After the bruising or red marks show, the abuser sees that they may drive their victim away, so they

  • straighten up,
  • apologize,
  • remind their victim about what good times they’ve had together and
  • wax poetic about how much their love can withstand because they’re meant to be together,
  • how sorry they are for being a jerk and
  • promise that it will never ever happen again.

But it does happen again because the abuser cannot pretend to be a kind and loving human for long. The stress of the pretense builds, and before you know it, the victim is walking on egg shells and waiting for the abuser’s big bang.

With each rotation of the cycle of violence, the abuse victim’s belief in their ability to leave the relationship diminishes. If someone becomes brave enough to reach out to you, take them seriously even if their mate appears to be the epitome of a “good person” with social consciousness and standing. Abusers by nature are liars, and some evolve into killers, too.

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9 Responses to Down and Dirty Domestic Violence Education

  1. dvstopnow says:

    Be sure to check out the Stockhlom Syndrome and Biderman’s Chart of Coercion with relationship to DV and PTSD. These really clarify the cycle of violence and explain how fast control can be gained.

    Keep after it…it is a topic that is avoided in the counseling/therapy world.

  2. holli mayi says:

    i been with my boyfriend for a year and a half and mean time he has pushed me sometimes, grabbed my neck, pinched me, also grabbed my hand hard and later on said i don’t brush my teeth, grabbed my shoulder and dragged me away, he also said my dad was annoying, he gives everyone attitude including his mother. He also kicked my itouch and when i tried to pick it up he kicked it again and pushed me. I feel like am brain wash because a lot of the things i dont remember and i know it occurred i dont know if its my body that chooses not too or if he has brain wash me, but we have had more good time then bad but am i in an abusive relationship? or am over reacting? i need to know if i end the relationship or not

  3. Kellie Holly says:

    Holli, yes you are in an abusive relationship. Not only is there physical violence, but you mention that he denies your account of “what happened”. This means there is mental abuse also. You are not over-reacting. Healthy men do not need to grab your neck, pinch, push or any other type of physical violence.

  4. Beta maria says:

    If my partner grabs the sides of my mouth and pinches to get me to talk when hes angry should i leave him?

  5. Kellie Holly says:

    Beta maria, grabbing and pinching is physical violence. You experienced domestic violence at the hands of your partner. I recommend that you create a safety plan and understand that the violence is likely to INCREASE over time. It is safer for you to leave now than to stay another day, but no one can tell you when to leave or even if you should – that decision is yours alone.

  6. Beta maria says:

    Thank you for your reply. He also pushes his finger in under the cheek bone on my face and he has been hitting my arms and shoulders and pushing the side ofmy face. It doesnt really hurt. He tells me im pretty but also tells me im stupidand a witch etc. He says that its my fault because i turn away from him when he keeps trieimg to kiss me ( a lot) ( even when ive kissed him back he still needs more) also that its my fault for not setting a wedding date. If he knewthat i was his he says he would not be angry. That ive made him a monster.

  7. Beta maria says:

    If a partner keeps groping at me if i sit on the sofa over and under clothes or if i sit and watch a film pushes his hand behind my knickers when i all i am doing is sitting next to him. Is that disrespectal and degradeing to me? Is that what a wife must put up with? What is normal in a husband and wife situation? Should a man only touch a womans bust on bare skin undet clothes when they are making love and not whenever he feels like it? Whats normal please? When i tellhim not too he yells at me saying im cold and not affentionate. I like hugs but he keeps doing that to me and it makes me feel like i am not respected and thst my private space is being imposed upon. Ive spoken to him about this and told him not too but he ingnores me and shoves his hamds under my bra and i feel really depressed when he does it. It makes me feel so dirty. I ask him.not too and tell him why and he still does it even straight after ive said no. But regardless of weather im happy or sad about it. Is it normal for a husband to keep touching his wife like that? He shouts at me for hours and wont let me sleep.

  8. Kellie Holly says:

    When it comes to sex and intimate touching, “normal” depends on the participants. In your case, because you have told him to stop it, he SHOULD respect your feelings and stop doing those things. I would think a “normal” husband would respect his wife’s wishes and NOT force himself upon her as yours does.

    If your husband really wanted to know about you, to understand you, he could first stop disrespecting you and then open up a conversation about what’s going on with your intimate relationship. It is normal to discuss what he likes/what you like. It is NOT normal for him to force himself upon you – it is emotional and sexual abuse.

    The yelling and not allowing you to sleep is verbal abuse at the very least.

    Beta maria, do you live in the United States?

  9. Kellie Holly says:

    Beta maria, reading back into your comments of late, I suggest that you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (http://www.thehotline.org) and find some support in your area. Your husband or soon-to-be husband’s behavior is VERY dangerous and abusive.

    I’m concerned that you are not reaching out for help in the best place here in the comments section. You would be better served by a resource in your area where you could receive the help you need. Call the NDVH to start.

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