Today’s Pen of Domestic Violence Coordinator’s writings takes a look at one of the ways that batterers use to maintain control over their victims, “Coercive Power.”
In the book, Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith identifies three forms of power which allow groups or individuals to force the submission of other individuals or groups to the will of the more powerful. The three forms are physical or coercive power; conditioned power, which is the ability to rely on the social or individual conditioning of a person to force submission to the will of another; and economic power. All three forms of power are exercised by abusers against women to force their submission.
Nearly every victim of domestic violence has experienced overt physical violence. Often more subtle forms of violence are used against women which they have not yet identified as battering. Intimidating stares, banging on the walls, throwing things, threatening suicide, threatening homicide, and making veiled threats to hurt someone else are all forms of violence.
Threats of taking away the children or ruining her reputation are forms of violence are also coercive and commonly used by batterers. It is important that the whole continuum of coercive power be examined when women think about the tactics being used to gain their submission.
Next time we will explore; conditioned power and how the abuser uses it to gain the victim’s submission.
Today’s Pen of Domestic Violence Coordinator’s writings indicate the need for DV Advocators to look at the “Big Picture,” and not just view the adult or child victim as only their “behavior and symptoms.”
Key Point: Often, advocates will describe the individual/survivor as out of control, manipulative, or she has mental health diagnosis, such as being borderline or bipolar. This can be damaging to survivors and to your relationship with them.
Sometimes advocates do this because individuals have received a mental health diagnosis or been prescribed medications. Consequently, advocates may modify their approach and interaction with a survivor based on this.
However, consider that perhaps a comprehensive assessment and screening did not occur, resulting in an improper or incorrect diagnosis. Complex trauma reactions or repeated exposure to harm might not have been part of the assessment. Therefore, the advocate needs to incorporate knowledge about trauma and its impact on individuals; to not do so stands a good chance of limiting the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship with the dv survivor and misses a potential connection.
Therefore, advocates are encouraged to respond with compassion, understanding and encouragement with the individual to manage and explore their overwhelming feelings. The intention is to treat the “whole person” and not merely react to the behaviors or diagnosis.
Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Best Practices Manual For Domestic Violence Programs, Final Draft June, 2000, p.66
Today’s Pen of Domestic Violence Coordinator’s writings indicate the need for separate interviews for victims and abusers.
It is essential that any such asking about domestic violence be carried out with care and sensitivity, and in a way that does not further endanger women and children. Disclosure is not very likely to occur when the woman is in the presence of her abusive partner; as her fear of the possible repercussions would prevent her from revealing any violence. Therefore, joint interviews or joint meetings should be avoided, especially for initial sessions.
The prevailing method of interviewing both parents together to assess the risk to the child appears to be a detriment to determining if domestic violence is present. Given the seemingly strong link between spouse abuse and child abuse, interviewing each parent separately seems always indicated.
Some professionals may be wary of seeing women separately in order to raise the issue of domestic violence, partly fearing that this will be time consuming or might ‘invite’ malicious allegations. However, it is vital that the possibility of separate meetings is explored to ensure effective and safe interventions for women and children.
This article comes from: Making an Impact- Children and Domestic Violence; Marianne Hester, Chris Pearson and Nicola Harwin, p. 131.
An Order of Protection, also known as a Protective Order, is an order you get from the court that tells someone to leave you alone. Of course, it is only a piece of paper, and it is not absolute protection against violence. However, it certainly can help. The police will have a copy of the Order of Protection, and will be able to respond quickly to assist you. You can call the police anytime you are hurt or in danger, but having an Order of Protection will help the police in responding to your call. You can get an Order of Protection if you are a victim of domestic or family violence, a sexual offense, or stalking.
Domestic or family violence is when a family or household member harms or threatens to harm you, places you in fear of physical harm, forces you to engage in sexual activity, or stalks you. A family or household member includes a spouse, someone you are or were dating or had an intimate relationship with, someone who is related to you, etc. You can also get an Order of Protection against someone who is not a family member or household member if that person has committed a sexual offense or a stalking offense against you. You cannot get an Order of Protection against a non-family or non-household member if you are having a general dispute with that person that does not involve stalking or sexual offense The Order of Protection will last for 2 years, unless the court orders a different date.
A victim of domestic violence can also obtain a No-Contact Order. This is different from an Order of Protection. A judge can enter a no-contact order in a criminal case, a C.H.I.N.S case, or juvenile case. A no-contact order is used to stop contact that might interfere with the court case. It is possible to have both a no-contact order and an Order of Protection issued against the same person.
Getting an Order of Protection is not absolute protection against abuse. Violation of an Order of Protection is a crime. However, some Respondents act violently even when they know they might get arrested. If you need an Order of Protection, it would be helpful for you to talk with someone at a local domestic violence shelter or similar agency about things you can do to reduce the risk of injury to yourself and/or your children.
Listening to parents tell their story about the varying levels of violence in the family home, it has become common place for me to hear how all too often, they do not believe their children know what is happening. Moreover, a number of parents do not understand how deeply their children are impacted by what goes on in the family violence. The parents generally believe that their relationship and their children are two separate issues. Some couples, for many reasons, choose to ignore the impact the violence has on their children.
Social science researchers have concluded that boys who grow up witnessing their mother’s abuse are far more likely to grow up and abuse their wife or significant other. Girls growing up witnessing the violence perpetrated upon their mothers are more likely to engage in relationships that are prone to violence and have a much more difficult time leaving the relationship once the violence starts.
Children from preschool, and younger, to high school and beyond, harbor behaviors that are impacted by family violence. Some of the behaviors manifest in emotional dysfunction that sometimes produces errors in clinical diagnosis. Children can appear; somatic, regress, hyperactive, depressed, angry, hostile, unfocused, uncooperative, unreliable, impulsive, oppositional, isolative, forgetful, and the list goes on. The tendency is for those on the outside looking in on domestic violence situations to blame someone for the children’s behaviors. Generally, the blame, in many cases is placed upon the victim of domestic violence.
I surmise that rather than blame the victim, it is beneficial to support her and help her address the issues. Empower her with information about the effects of domestic violence and assist her in helping her overcome the violence and along with her children recover from the violence.
The question of why does she stay is an interesting one. The victim is often asked this question while the victimizer is rarely asked, why does he batter, abuse the victim?
The research indicates that most victims of Domestic Violence, by far, are females and subsequently their children. We will refer to DV-V’s, in this article as female. Domestic violence occurs across all demographics with varying degrees of frequency, destruction and/or lethality. The reason domestic violence victims remain in relationships of family discord is a varied as there are victims. One of the reasons, and we will discuss a few more with each issue, is that very often, she is dependent upon the abuser for financial support, and/or she is committed to her religious belief governing family life and staying together.
The abuser very often uses these and many more strategies to maintain his control over his victim. The abuser, according to Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That? “is one who makes the victim feel devalued. He may do this through verbal abuse and mental cruelty; through pressuring, hurting, or humiliating her sexually; through controlling the money; through cheating on her or giving lots of flirtatious attention to other women so that you feel like less; by focusing only on his own needs and ignoring hers (emotionally, sexually, financially, or in other ways); by using coldness and withdrawal when he doesn’t get his way; by turning her into a servant; by chronically ignoring his responsibilities so that she is stuck taking care of things; or through violence and threats. Devaluation and domination take many different forms.”
After years of this kind of accumulative abusive behaviors, it renders the victim believing that she is the problem and that she needs to, through it all, keep the family together. Her futile assessment of his behavior and this repetitive familial pattern of violence is the result of his careful and intentional manipulation of her emotions and circumstances. In between his highly violent actions or threats of highly violent incidents, victims very often believe that this time, is the last time. And, he knows that she believes that. On the other hand, his thoughts are only of himself and what serves his purposes.
Next we will discuss the impact of family violence upon children.
Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner, Family Violence statistics according to the CDC in Atlanta and other organizations, posits a myriad of health and safety issues facing American citizens.
This column will highlight education and preventative measures citizens can take to improve the quality of life for anyone who lives with, or knows someone who lives in a volatile intimate relationship.
If you have questions or concerns regarding Domestic Violence, please feel free to comment with questions to Domestic Violence Coordinators, Tami Semple, John Toigo, or Patricia Lawson. One of the most frequent questions that comes to mind, is, “Why does she stay?” The simple answer is, it’s complicated. In the coming issues we will begin to shine light on both the question and the answer(s) to that question.