Intimate Partner/Relationship Violence
Intimate partner/relationship violence (domestic violence, battering physical abuse) occurs when one partner turns his/her anger on the other partner. This is sometimes manifested in emotional abuse, such as yelling, swearing, name calling, or verbal insults. Or it may show up in the form of physical abuse, such as pushing, hitting, choking, or kicking. Another form abusive behavior sometimes takes is sexual, such as forcing sexual relations or other sexual activity.
Warning Signs of a Potentially Abusive Personality
- Quick Involvement: Comes on very strong, quickly pressures you for an exclusive commitment.
- Jealousy: Very possessive, calls constantly or visits unexpectedly, checks your car's mileage.
- Controlling: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to and where you were, keeps all the money, insists you ask for permission to go anywhere or do anything.
- Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweetly loving to explosively violent in a matter of minutes.
- Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends, tries to prevent you from holding a job.
- Blames others for problems: It's always someone else's fault (often yours) if anything goes wrong.
- Makes everyone else responsible for his/her feelings: The abuser says, "You make me angry," instead of "I am angry."
- Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes you or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things; degrade, curses, calls you ugly names.
- Cruelty to animals and children: Kills or punishes animals. May expect children to do things that are beyond their ability or tease them mercilessly.
- Threats of violence: Makes statements like, "I'll break your neck," or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with "Everyone talks that way," or "I didn't really mean it.
Cycles of Violence
Phase I: Tension Building
In the beginning of relationships, violence rarely occurs. This is typically a time of infatuation, when each partner is on their best behavior and the level of stress is fairly low. As the relationship continues, demands and stress increase. There is an increase in aggressive behavior, which is often directed at objects rather than people. This aggressive behavior is followed by a decrease in tension, which reinforces the behavior and makes it more likely to occur. The violent behavior shifts toward the partner, first verbal or emotional abuse, then moving toward physical abuse. The partner may change his/her behavior to try to stop the abuse, and feel responsible for the abuse. The abuser may become possessive, jealous, and controlling of his/her partner's behavior. He/she may try to isolate him/her from his/her family and friends.
Phase II: The Acute Battering Incident
This phase is when the built up stress and tension is actually released following the violence. The abuser chooses when and where the violence occurs, and how the partner is injured. Often it is in this phase that law enforcement are involved. The violent behavior releases the stress and tension, which may leave the abuser appearing calm and rational when the police arrive. The partner may be confused or upset.
Phase III: Calm or Honeymoon Phase
After the violent episode, there is a calm and loving period. The abuser may take some responsibility for his/her behavior, expressing guilt and asking for forgiveness. This may give the partner hope that change is possible. Without intervention, tension begins to build and the cycle is repeated. Over time the frequency and severity of violence often increases.
If You Are Being Abused
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Realize that no one deserves to be abused. It is not your fault.
- Try to maintain connections with family and friends. Avoid isolation.
- Don't try to change the abuser. This could put you in more danger.
- Get professional help. In Greeley contact A Woman's Place at 356-4226 (24 hour crisis line). In Colorado contact The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence at (303) 831-9632. Outside of Colorado, contact The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (1-800-799-7233).