If you Have Committed Intimate Partner Violence --
How you Can Stop!
Intimate partner violence is a crime. It results from an imbalance of power and control over one's partner. Intimate partner violence is primarily committed by men against women, but it also occurs in same sex relationships and by women against men. Not all survivors are physically battered or beaten. This type of violence can take many forms such as psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual and cultural violence as well as financial and verbal abuse and neglect. Gays, lesbians, transgendered persons, immigrants, Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized groups are especially vulnerable to violence. Partner abuse can happen to women of all abilities, incomes and education levels, in all social classes, religions, racial and cultural groups.
If you have committed intimate partner violence you are not alone. Many men have a problem with violence learned from childhood and supported by society. It takes strength to admit that you are violent and courage to change.
Recognizing that your actions are damaging your relationship with your partner is the first step to breaking the cycle of intimate partner violence. Some perpetrators have experienced violence themselves and it can be challenging to recognize that you are now in the role of the abuser, and that:
- You only need to commit violence once to be an abuser;
- The impact of violence doesn’t stop when you do;
- You can stop being violent and it is vital that you choose to do so;
- Violence affects children whether they see it or not.
There is help and support for abusers. The sooner you get help the better it is for both you and your partner.
Steps Towards Stopping the Violence
Steps that you can take to stop your violent behaviour are as follows:
- Recognize that you are violent in your relationship. Your partner does not make you hurt her or act violently;
- Ask yourself if your partner is frightened of you;
- Ask yourself if your relationship is suffering because of your behaviour;
- Violence comes in many forms, but it is always about control – forcing your
partner to do what you want, when you want. Identify the type(s) of violence in which you engage;
- Recognize that your violent behaviour affects your whole family. Violence and abuse have a devastating affect on children. You may think that your children do not know what is going on because you are not violent in front of them, but they will hear the violence and sense the tension in the family. There is a lot of evidence to show that children are harmed by violence even if they do not directly witness it. Alternatively, they could be caught in the crossfire or may intervene to protect your partner;
- Choose to stop. Decide that you no longer want to control and abuse. Only you can take control over your own behaviour and learn not to be violent and abusive whatever the situation;
- Take responsibility for your behaviour and for the violence. Stop blaming your actions on your partner or other things like alcohol, drugs, stress or
unemployment. Your violence will increase if you don’t take action to stop it.
You may destroy your relationship or seriously injure someone you care about;
- Realize that violence and threats of violence are crimes. You face fines or
imprisonment if convicted;
- Do not minimize your behaviour by thinking that it isn’t too bad. How bad does it need to be before you do anything? Blaming your violence on other factors and saying you’re sorry after the incident will not solve your problem;
- You can promise yourself over and over again that it won’t happen again, but it probably will if you do nothing more. Do something before the next time;
- Denying your violence will prevent you from getting help;
- Seek help. You can change the way you act with the support of counselling or other resources.
Spot the Warning Signs!
- Be aware when things are heating up and when you are getting into a situation where you may become violent towards your partner;
- Make a note of your sore spots. These may be typical situations when you have been violent before;
- Think about what is happening to you physically as you begin to become violent and abusive – your physical warning signs;
- Think about what you do before you become violent. Do you point your finger, close your fist, pace the floor, shout, glare, interrupt, go quiet, issue orders, or get right up close?;
- Watch out for feelings you experience before you become abusive or violent. Do you feel resentment? Anger? Trapped? Guilty? Upset? Hurt? These are your emotional warning signs;
- Think about the negative things that you say to yourself as you get closer
to being violent – these are your mental warning signs. The signs could be negative thoughts about your partner, such as ‘she is doing this deliberately’;
- Also note the things you do not say to yourself, such as how your partner is
feeling or trying to understand or listen to what your partner is saying
Remember – it is never too late to make another choice;
- You can walk away. Right up to the moment that you are abusive or violent, you can choose to do otherwise.
Take Time Out!
- Time out is the most basic alternative to being violent – if you are not near your partner you cannot hurt or abuse them. It gives you space to calm down and reflect on your behaviour.
- Once you spot warning signs, you should get away for exactly one hour and
leave the situation before things build up and you are violent.
- Calm yourself down. Walk, exercise, meditate or pray – or it may help to talk to a friend who is supporting you in being non-violent.
- Examine your behaviour. Think about your behaviour and any negative
thoughts that you were having. Think about alternatives to your behaviour and what you are going to do or say when you get back to your partner. Remember you will need to return and be different, rather than try to make your partner different.
- After an hour, return home. Before you return, call your partner to let her
know that you have calmed down and are returning. If your partner wants
to discuss the situation with you, do so in a non-violent and non-blaming way. Do not force someone to talk to you when you want, as that would also be violent. Respect your partner’s wish not to discuss the situation and wait for a mutually convenient opportunity.
- Talk to your partner about ‘time outs’ so that your partner knows ahead of time what strategy you are using to manage your violence.
Talk to a Professional or Join a Program
It is not normally possible for perpetrators of intimate partner violence to solve all their problems themselves. Once you have identified that you have a problem, get help and support.
Davina James-Hanman, Director of the Greater London Domestic Violence Project.
Dr Justin Varney, Assistant Director of Health Improvement, Barking and Dagenham Primary
Originally produced with Barking and Dagenham PCT
© Ian Banks 2008
ISBN: 978 1 906121 76 1
Adapted from: http://www.gldvp.org.uk/module_images/Home%20Office%20DV%20Text.pdf