May 20

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​Anger & Violence


Whenever you or a loved one has a problem with anger, the potential for violence always needs to be addressed! Violence is not an expression of anger, but a strategy to maintain power in a relationship. Some people feel entitled to power and maintain this belief through self-pity, denial, rationalization, manipulation, and disregard for their partner’s feelings. Underneath this drive for power can be deep feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and fears of abandonment. The potential for violence can be seen in people who:

RECOGNIZING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

​Violent tactics are rarely seen early in a relationship. Initially, a person may be intensely romantic and pressure his or her partner to make a commitment. Gradually, a cycle develops of tension building toward abusive action followed by an expression of remorse or romance. Emotional and verbal abuse may appear before actual violence. One out of 6 women reports that her partner hit her at some point in her marriage. Because 70% to 80% of murdered women are killed by their husband, a family member, or close male friend, it is very important to become aware of how violence can progress over the years:

Nonphysical Indicators

Violence—No Contact

Violent Contact

THERAPY FOR BATTERERS

Hidden feelings of powerlessness are often expressed in the need to control others. In group therapy, people can recognize vulnerable feelings in others that they have hidden from themselves. It can take 18–24 months to eradicate the misuse of power that feeds abuse. Management of violence can actually be accomplished early in treatment, but control issues require lengthy intervention. Offenders need to:

THERAPY FOR VICTIMS

To recognize and treat victims of battering, common misconceptions about domestic violence must be challenged:

Fiction

Fact

Uneducated, poor, or minority people with few job skills are more likely to be battered.

Violence occurs in all strata of society. The poor are prosecuted more often.

Dependent, masochistic women may seek out violent partners.

Mental health problems are the result of, not the cause of, battering.

Many people do things (unintentionally) that cause their partner to hit them.

Violence is an individual character trait, not a relationship dysfunction.

Women return to abusive partners because they are unable to separate.

Family, friends, and clergy often urge women to make the relationship work.

People who have been battered will tend to get into another violent relationship.

Most people who have been battered go on to establish good relationships.

People who have been violent can change with a different person or reduced stress.

People who batter will continue to have violent relationships until they get help.

Violent people are uneducated, unsuccessful, or lacking in conscience.

People with a variety of backgrounds, accomplishments, and values can be violent.

Once a person leaves a relationship, he or she is safe from violence.

People are in greatest danger right after they leave a violent relationship.

Therapy does not start by pushing people to end abusive relationships. Battered women make an average of seven attempts to leave before doing so permanently. They return due to a lack of financial and emotional support. Individual counseling is needed to create the safety for victims to:

References

Statistics and other ideas come from Spouse Abuse by Michele Harway and Marsali Hansen (Professional Resource Exchange, 1994).

Getting Free by Ginny Nicarthy (Seal Press Feminist Publications, 1997)

Abused Men by Philip Cook (Prager, 1997), 800-799-SAFE, www.domestic-
violence.org.

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