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This is not a battle of the sexes or an attempt to demonize men. To support this thinking instead of the word “he” or “she” we will use the terms aggressor and victim. It is also important to include people with same sex partners this information is relevant to any abusive relationship.
Behaviors of aggressors
- Put down their partner
- Does all the talking, dominates conversation
- Tries to suggest they are the victim and acts depressed
- Isolates the victim from friends and family
- Acts as if their partners are possessions
- Lies to make themselves look good, or exaggerates their good qualities, abusers are often very charming and personable in their communities
- Acts like they are superior, and of more value than others in the home.
- Blames partner for problems
- Stalking behaviors- watching partner at home, listening to phone conversations, reads email and mail and following partner
Behaviors of victims
- Is apologetic, makes excuses for partners behavior or becomes aggressive and angry when confronted about partners behavior
- Is nervous talking when partner is nearby
- Seems to be sick more often and misses work
- Tries to cover bruises or long colorful stories about how the bruises got there
- Makes excuses or cancels at the last minute when friends make invitations and plans.
- Avoids friends when outside of the home
- Seems sad lonely, withdrawn and is afraid
- Shows a pattern of using more drugs and alcohol to cope
There are times when abuse can escalate to a dangerous level. Here are some stresses and other behaviors to be aware of
- Aggressor has access to children after a “break-up”
- Has access to weapons
- Has a history of abuse has threatened to harm or kill themselves or partners “If I can’t have you no one will”
- Aggressor Threatens to harm pets or property
- Is going through other life changes, job loss, starting or stopping an addiction
- Is convinced partner is seeing someone else
- Doesn't seek support
- Has trouble keeping a job.
- Has no respect for the law
Here are some ways anyone can help when you recognize the signs of abuse
- Let the victim know what you see and that you are concerned, you believe them and it is not their fault
- Encourage the victim not to confront partner, and to make their safety the priority.
- Offer assistance with the children while the victim seeks help
- Remind the victim about safety planning
If the victim denies the abuse
- Assure them they can talk to you in the future
- Try not to become angry or frustrated, understand the victim may not be ready to take the next steps and they are still very afraid
- Victims are often ashamed
- If there are children involved the victim may be more willing to seek help if they realize the children are in danger too.
Points to consider about someone who is being abused
- You may feel it’s none of your business-violence is everyone’s concern; it could be a matter of life or death
- Even if you think you don’t know what to say to someone who is abused, saying you care is a good start.
- If you think by talking you will make things worse, doing nothing definitely will
- You think it’s not serious enough to contact police, the police are trained to respond and can refer to other services.
- You think the victim really does not want to leave because they keep going back, perhaps the victim does not have the support they need
- You feel both partners are your friend… one of your friends is being abusive and the other lives in fear.
- You believe if they wanted your help they would ask, perhaps they are too ashamed to ask for help.
- Remember it is important for the offender to have a supportive environment to heal also.
Source: Golden Safe Homes Handouts