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Domestic violence


"In 2008, family-law and domestic-violence experts held a conference to increase understanding and effectiveness in dealing with this serious problem. They concluded that there are actually four distinctly different types of domestic violance (Kelly and Johnson 2008).


Also known as coercive controlling violence, battering involves a pattern of power and control by one partner and a pattern of fear in the victim partner. There may not be frequent violence , but when the violence occurs, it can be severe and result in bruises, broken bones, and death. The victim often becomes isolated, loses self-esteem, and finds it very hard to leave. Batterers are primary male, although perhaps 25 percent are female, with the same dynamics against their male partner. Most batterers seem to have characteristics of borderline, narcissistic, or antisocial personalities.

Courts commonly order batterers treatment groups for batterers, which may last twelve, twenty-six, or fifty-two weeks, depending on your court system. These programs are generally helpfull for batterers with borderline or impulsive narcissistic traits, because they learn how to prevent the buildup of anger and how to challenge the cognitive distortions that lead them to blame their spouses and justify violence. Batterers who have antisocial or controlled narcissistic traits are less affected by these treatment programs, because they don´t see themselves as having an 'anger management' problem; they are able to manage their anger very well to achive their own selfish purposes.

Situational Couple Violence

This type of domestic violence is the most common type. Instead of a pattern of power and control, both parties in the couple have difficulties resolving conflict peacefully and get into pushing and shoving types of behavior, sometimes with injuries. Neither party lives in fear of the other, and the violence is generally less severe. Research shows that men and women engage in this type of violence fairly equally and they are less likely to have PDs than batterers.

Separation-Instigated Violence

Sometimes there are one or two incidents at the time of separation, but not prior history of violence. Both parties may engage in this behavior, and it is fairly equal among males and females.

Violent Resistance

Violent resistance is the term used when a victim of a batterer fights back, sometimes injuring the usual perpetrator. Sometimes, batterers set up a spouse to fight back, then call the police. Sometimes victims get arrested because of one injury to the batterer, while the batterer gets away with noumerous injuries on other occations that the victim does not report.

Unfortunately, while many counselors are now aware of the four types of domestic violance, many lawyers and judges are not. Some have presumptions that any incident of domestic violence is always a sign of a batterer, and they treat it very severly. Others have presumptions that minimize domestic violence, and they assume it will stop on its own. Both unofficial presumptions can be terribly wrong, but in the adversarial process, with huge caseloads and little training, judges have to make on-the-spot decisions, and unofficial presumptions exist, wheter they are recognized or not."

(Bill Eddy, Splitting - Protecting yourself while divorcing someone with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder, sidan 121-123) 


The Wheel of violence and The cycle of abuse



Many people mistakenly believe that the term "domestic violence" only means physical abuse or assaults. Physical abuse is only one part of a system of abusive behaviors. The wheel of violence is commonly used by domestic violence prevention agencies, support programs and shelters to explain what characterizes abusive relationships. Below is an outline of the
wheel with a description of how each characteristic is used as a way to control or gain power.

Battering and abusing is a choice. It is used to gain power and control over another person. Abuse is never a one time event. It is actually the use of systematic control through many methods. See the cycle of abuse outline below to understand how the abuse is enacted and revolves in the relationship.

POWER and CONTROL - Abusers believe they have a right to control their partners by:

  1. Telling them what to do and expecting obedience
  2. Using force to maintain power and control over partners
  3. Feeling their partners have no right to challenge their desire for power and control
  4. Feeling justified making the victim comply
  5. Blaming the abuse on the partner and not accepting responsibility for wrongful acts.


The characteristics shown in the wheel are examples of how this power and control are demonstrated and enacted against the victim.


  • limiting outside involvement
  • making another avoid people/friends/family by deliberately embarrassing or humiliating them in front of others
  • expecting another to report every move and activity
  • restricting use of the car
  • moving residences


  • putting another down/name-calling
  • ignoring or discounting activities and accomplishments
  • withholding approval or affection
  • making another feel as if they are crazy in public or through private humiliation
  • unreasonable jealousy and suspicion
  • playing mind games


  • preventing another from getting or keeping a job
  • withholding funds
  • spending family income without consent and/or making the partner struggle to pay bills
  • not letting someone know of or have access to family/personal income
  • forcing someone to ask for basic necessities


  • driving recklessly to make another feel threatened or endangered
  • destroying property or cherished possessions
  • making another afraid by using looks/actions/gestures
  • throwing objects as an expression of anger to make another feel threatened
  • displaying weapons


  • threatening to take the children away
  • making the partner feel guilty about the children
  • abusing children or pets to punish the partner
  • using the children to relay messages


  • treating another like a servant
  • making all the big decisions
  • being the one to define male and female roles
  • acting like the master or queen of the castle


  • sex on demand or sexual withholding
  • physical assaults during sexual intercourse
  • spousal rapes or non-consensual sex
  • sexually degrading language
  • denying reproductive freedom


  • threats of violence against significant third parties
  • threats to commit physical or sexual harm
  • threats to commit property destruction
  • threats to commit suicide or murder


  • biting/scratching
  • slapping/punching
  • kicking/stomping
  • throwing objects at another
  • locking another in a closet or utilizing other confinement
  • sleep interference and/or deliberately exhausting the partner with unreasonable demands and lack of rest
  • deprivation of heat or food
  • shoving another down steps or into objects
  • assaults with weapons such as knives/guns/other objects



The cycle of abuse

TENSION BUILDING - Tension starts and steadily builds

  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Communication breaks down
  • Victim feels the need to concede to the abuser
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels uneasy and a need to watch every move


INCIDENT or "Acting Out" phase

  • Any type of abuse occurs
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Or other abuses in the wheel above


HONEYMOON or Reconciliation phase

  • Abuser apologizes for abuse, some beg forgiveness or show sorrows
  • Abuser may promise it will never happen again
  • Blames victim for provoking the abuse or denies abuse occurred
  • Minimizing, denying or claiming the abuse wasn't as bad as victim claims


CALM before the tension starts again

  • Abuses slow or stop
  • Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
  • Promises made during honeymoon stage may be met
  • Abuser may give gifts to victim
  • Victim believes or wants to believe the abuse is over or the abuser will change


This cycle is different in each abusive relationship. In some cases a relationship may take hours or up to a week to complete the cycle. For other relationships, it may take a month, or it may even take a year or more for a relationship to complete the cycle. As the relationship continues, the Calm and Honeymoon stages may even disappear. It is important to note that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Usually the cycle is completed faster as the relationship progresses - meaning the quiet and loving times are less frequent and the abuse returns more rapidly and lasts longer. Over time, serious injuries to the victim will often escalate as well as the frequency of the abuses and battering.



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