Understanding The Dynamics of
Domestic Violence

It doesn't matter if you are still in an abusive relationship, just gotten out of one, or have been out for a long period of time. The process of recovery is the same for everyone. The first step is understanding the dynamics of abuse. Learning to identify the types, how they work, why they are so effective, and understanding the cycles. I call this the Realization Phase. There are a lot of mixed emotions and self-doubt experienced in the recovery process, but it is critical to your safety and success that you know and understand the enemy. 

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Types of Domestic Violence 

Emotional and Verbal

Emotional abusers seek control by chipping away at your self-esteem. In addition to the feelings of having very low self-worth, it also leaves the abused feeling isolated and unworthy of love, respect or affection. 

Stalking

Stalking is the harassment or threatening of another person that causes them to fear for their safety. Stalking can be on the phone, in person, or online and may occur in the pursuit of a relationship, during the relationship, or after it has ended.

Cyberstalking

As the name implies, cyberstalking hosts the same characteristics as stalking but instead of being done in person it is done electronically. It uses technology as a weapon to deliberately threaten, harass or defame a current or prior partner. Posting videos online of sexual acts without permission or consent even if the act itself was consensual. (Refer to Revenge Porn Laws.)

Psychological

This type of abuse relies on persistent uses of intimidation and threats to instill fear.  Frequently uses “Emotional blackmail” to take away access to people/things that the abused has an emotional attachment to or places a high sentimental value on as a means of “punishment”

Financial

Financial abuse is perhaps one of the most common but most difficult to identify. With this form of abuse the abuser attempts to gain control by forcing financial dependency.  It can be particularly isolating because often the victim is relying completely on the mercy of the abusive partner

Sexual

Sexual abuse is one of the more easily identifiable types of abuse. While rape and physical sexual assault obviously fall into this category of abuse, there are lesser talked about behaviors that are forms of sexual abuse. These include various forms of sexual harassment, coercion and revenge porn.  

Physical

Physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence and the one that typically comes to mind when the terms domestic violence or domestic abuses are used. When domestic or intimate partner violence is reported it often includes some form of physical violence, in conjunction with one or more of the other types of abuse.

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In addition to the types of behaviors that constitute abuse it is important to understand that domestic violence follows a uniform and predictable pattern. For some, the amount of time in between the various cycles may be hours, days, weeks, or months. Regardless of how much time elapses it is imperative that you understand IT IS A REPETITIVE CYCLE. Until the cycle is disrupted and ended, it will continue. It is also very common that the severity of the abuse that occurs with each incident will increase. 

Abusers do not stop on their own. Something has to happen to disrupt the cycle AND they must WANT to stop. 

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Image by Danie Franco

Generational Systems

A Generational System refers to the 'system' or environment that you were born into. It is within this familial 'system' that you learned how to respond to things happening to you and around you. The Generational System teaches things like how to behave, what to believe, what was possible, what to should expect from the world and how you should handle what is experienced. For individuals (both the abusers and their victims) caught in the cross-fire of an abusive relationship their Generational System taught  that physical violence, tolerance , mismanagement of fear, secrecy, and abuse of power and control are a normal part of life. In essence, that it is to be expected. These lessons are then passed down as a non negotiable reality. This is not done with the intention to cause harm, but they are merely multiplying what was learned from the defunct system they were born into.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT A NON-NEGOTIABLE REALITY..... IT IS A CHOICE.

Once you understand that domestic and intimate partner abuse is part of a Generational System you can make a conscious choice to rectify the system. 

Remember that the injury does not need to be a major one. For example, if your partner slaps you a few times, but no medical attention is needed. This is still domestic violence. Broken bones, left untreated is still domestic violence. There does not have to be a medical record of the abuse.

Image by Dom Aguiar

For additional questions or to reserve a training time, contact an advocate today.

National Resources
( TO BE DIRECTED TO 911 EMERGENCY  DISPATCH FOR YOUR LOCAL AREA)

911 FOR ALL EMERGENCIES

Text 911

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE

THEHOTLINE.ORG

RAINN.ORG

1.800.799.7233 (SAFE)

1.800.656.4673

Text "START" to 88788

NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

HUMANTRAFFICKINGHOTLINE.ORG

1.888.373.7888

Text "HELP" to 233733