Domestic Violence Facts and Resources
Effects of Domestic Violence Over Time
Domestic violence has many far reaching effects on everyone involved, including the victim, their children and relatives, and society as a whole. Below are just some of the effects DV can have when allowed to continue over time.
The Cycle of Violence
Generally domestic violence occurs in a cycle, which consists of three stages.
Phase 1: "Walking on Eggshells"
The first stage involves an increase in tension between the partners. The abuser will become angry, place blame, and argue more often, while the victim is completely focused on not provoking the abuser.
Phase 2: "Abuse"
During the second stage the tension finally breaks, and the abuser attacks the victim. This abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or all three.
Phase 3: "Make-up Phase"
During the third stage, the abuse ends and things calm down between the partners. The abuser may deny the violence, make excuses, say they're sorry, or reassure the victim the abuse will never happen again. The abuser may even seek counseling. However, this is rarely the end of the abuse. Generally, the cycle repeats itself, with this stage becoming shorter after each repetition. Eventually the make-up phase disappears completely, creating a continual cycle of high tensions and abuse.
Why People Stay
People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons, and each relationship is different. Here are some of the most common reasons people stay:
Promises to Change - Often abusers promise to change after each instance of abuse. They might even go to counseling to fully convince the victim of their change. This is rarely the case however, and the abuser generally resumes their harmful behavior after some time.
Low Self-Esteem - In many cases, abusers use a victim's self-esteem to trap them in the relationship. The abuser will lower the victim's self-esteem to the point where they believe they're unworthy of a better partner, or even that they deserved the abuse in the first place.
Fear - Many victims of abuse refuse to leave for fear of even greater repercussions, should they try to escape.
Isolation - Abusers often isolate their partners from the outside world, including friends and family. This cuts off the victim's support networks, and makes them feel their abuser is the only person they can turn to.
Denial and Minimization - Sometimes victims will deny abuse completely, or convince themselves the abuse "wasn't that bad," or is normal for a relationship.
Prior Lack of Effective Intervention - If the victim has gone for help in the past, but recieved ineffective intervention, it's less likely they'll seek help again. Even if the violence is worsening around them, they may feel that reaching out again would be pointless.
Lack of Shelter or Housing - If a victim believes they have nowhere to run, it's less likel that they'll attempt an escape from their abuser.
Lack of Access to Legal Counsel or Advocacy - It can often be difficult for victims to find proper legal counsel / advocacy, which is a very important part of protecting oneself after leaving.
Lack of Money - Abusers will attempt to trap victims through financial restrictions. If a victim has no money, it can be very difficult for them to escape and survive on their own, trapping them with their abuser.
Lack of Family or Social Support - Much like isolation from friends and family, a lack of family or social support can make the victim overly dependant on their abuser.
Shame, Embarassment, or Guilt - Feelings like these are often at the heart of a victim's decision to stay. In many cases, victims will be afraid of what the outside world will say if they open up about the abuse in their relationship.
Religious Beliefs - Many victims refuse to leave their partners due to strong religious convictions prohibiting the separation of husband and wife.
Wanting to Keep the Family Together - Victims will often stay with their abusers because they don't want to put their children through the stresses of a divorce.
Protecting the Children - Similarly, many victims of abuse will stay in an abusive relationship to protect their children from their abuser. This often comes at the expense of their own health.
No matter the situation, your safety is the number one priority. Below are some tips that will help keep you safe:
If you plan to leave your abuser, pack an emergency survival kit you can access at a moment's notice.
A packed survival kit should include all of the following:
If you consider leaving your abuser, be sure to think about the following in advance:
If you have already left your abuser, think about: