Is domestic violence increasing? Even though there is a month, October in the US and June in Portugal, dedicated to domestic violence awareness, it’s an understatement to say that every month and every single day should be dedicated to this cause. The funding and prevention services are lower, as the epidemic of domestic violence rises and broadens in terms of age. 12, 13, 15 year-old girls are becoming victims of domestic violence by their partners. In the cases of older women, statistics reveal that these stay with their abusers not just based on fear, but also based on economic reasons.
It’s the psychological issues
Don’t think that economic factors are the main reason domestic violence occurs, this problem has no social background, it’s all about psychological issues. In order to stop the abuse, we need to deal with the so called “inner voice” that abusers use to make victims think they are not worthy, that they will be alone, that they won’t make it without them. The voices inside the heads of the abusers are based on premises such as: their masculine pride, which resides in controlling the victim and that the victim won’t make him look like he’s worthless.
The idea of “we are one”
The idea that two people become one when they get together is also a very dangerous idea and very responsible for domestic violence. This feeling of happiness when both people have to be one, makes you believe that you can only be happy this way, creating the perfect environment for abuse to happen.
Even though men make up 15% of domestic violence victims, women are more prone to it
Even though women and society are fighting for equality, the real deal is that we still live in a patriarchal society, where men are expected to be strong and protect, and woman fragile and protected. This is a trigger for violent behaviors. In this types of relationships, the inner critical voice is always there to criticize and whisper low-self-esteem affirmations to the abuser and to the abused person. In the case of the abuser, these thoughts can escalate from verbal to physical abuse and sometimes even death.
The inner critical voice
The more somebody listens to their inner critical voice, the more the person feels the need to act on them. Usually, if a person perceives something as an insult or a provocation, even if it’s not, the person will lash out at the victim. This inner voice is very destructive for both parties, for the part that perceives an insult or a behavior as something to act on, and for the victim that perceives herself as unworthy. This creates a cycle, where a perpetrator becomes more violent and the victim becomes more fragile.
The one soul illusion
Besides this inner critical voice, as already mentioned, couples hold onto the illusion that they can’t live without each other, it’s like there is just one possible identity, and because of this they can’t break up and live as individuals. This illusion creates a dangerous relationship, because a couple becomes a solo identity and you can’t hurt just one part of an identity. This bond, this fantasy, makes it easier for both parts to not see the pain they live in, and it also creates the reality that in a couple, one part is more powerful than the other, creating an ownership of the other part. And when the perpetrator feels the other part as the weak and fragile one, he also feels that it’s a possible abandonment motif, something that intensifies life-threatening reactions.
The victim feels she can’t live without the other person, and needs to fix that person because, after all, he’s a part of her and she can’t live without him. Not having your own individual personality creates a lack of personal responsibility for the outcomes that can become a prolific ecosystem for emotional and physical abuse.
What works to prevent domestic violence
It’s very important that the moment that triggers an act of domestic violence can be toned down. When a person feels the stress level rising, that person should stop and feel total responsibility for the outcome as an individual responsible person.
No matter how infuriated or provoked the person feels toward their partner, these emotions can’t be acted on, because these emotions are not life or death emotions, the person can live with them and tone them down, until they disappear.
During those moments of rising stress, that will become anger, the person has the choice to defend themselves by connecting with their vulnerable human side and empathizing with the other person.
Usually, but not always, abusers have experienced situations where they were victims, sometimes they were abused as children, and so they keep perpetuating those behaviors.
It’s very important that the perpetrator can identify himself as the person who abused him in the past, and when he does that, it will help him lower his inner critical voice, the one that feeds the aggressive behaviors that will ultimately lead to violence.
The abuser needs to be able to have an equal dialogue with their partner by saying what he wants from the relationship, instead of expecting the partner to meet his expectations or needs.
Help is available for perpetrators and for victims. To gain a sense of individual responsibility, self-esteem and empathy are effective strategies for not going down the violence path and acting with self-conscience, by not turning to violence as a first gesture.
If you or a loved one need help call the National Domestic Violence Hotline -1-800-799-SAFE (7233).