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Why is my partner abusive?
Abusive partners come in every personality type, arise from good childhoods and bad ones, and may appear to be tough or gentle. No psychological test can distinguish an abusive person from a respectful one. Abusiveness is not a product of a person's emotional injuries or of deficits in their skills. In reality, abuse springs from a person's early cultural training, their role models, and peer influences. Abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology. Following are some examples of abusive behaviors:
This generally falls into one or more of the following areas: arguments and decision-making, controlling your personal freedom, and parenting.
The abuser believes that they have a special status and that it provides them with rights and privileges that do not apply to their partner(s).
Feeling like the victim.
This entitlement thinking makes the abuser shift responsibility onto their partner(s). So when the victims attempts to defend themselves, abusers will accuse victims of violence.
Denying or minimizing the abuse.
The abuser denies their actions to close off discussion or because they don’t want to answer for what they did.
Possessiveness is at the core of the abuser’s mindset; on some level they feel that they own their partner(s) and therefore have the right to treat them as the abuser sees fit. Extreme jealousy can also be used to isolate, either because the abuser wants the victim to focus entirely on their needs or they don’t want their partner to develop sources of strength that could help them gain independence.
What about my safety?
If you are in an abusive relationship, safety planning is a critical step. This planning can be done while you are still in the relationship, planning to leave or relocate, or after it has ended. A safety plan might include:
Planning for your children to stay safe during an abusive event
Planning what to take with you when you leave
Reporting harassing behavior after you’ve left
There are also steps you can take if you are relocating and are concerned about your children's safety.
Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy and, as you know, can escalate the violence. There are protections for victims, such as domestic violence restraining orders. A restraining order is a court order that tells the abuser to leave you and your children alone. It can order the abuser to move from your home and can deal with temporary custody and parenting time of your children.
A note about children: Children who are exposed to domestic violence experience a range of feelings, including fear, confusion, guilt, anger, worry and sadness. Up to 80% of children who witness domestic violence are at risk of becoming physically or sexually abused themselves. Whether experiencing or witnessing abuse, a child’s sense of safety and security in his/her own home are jeopardized by domestic violence.
You do not have to deal with domestic violence on your own. And you and your children have a right to be safe. Saving Grace can help you make informed choices about your situation, create a safety plan for yourself or for your children and begin the process of healing from abuse.
How can I help a friend or family member?
Do you know someone who is being abused by their intimate partner? Letting someone know that you are concerned can break through the stigma, isolation, shame and denial of domestic violence. It can also let abusers and the rest of the community know that domestic violence is totally unacceptable.
There are many misconceptions about domestic violence. The Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence explain that abuse is not caused by the abuser’s alcohol/drug problem or anger management problem, nor does the victim provoke the violence. Domestic violence is caused by attitudes and beliefs held by the abuser which lead him to believe violence, power, and control are acceptable in intimate relationships.
What you say to a victim of abuse is important. Victims need to know someone is there to support them. Messages such as “it’s not your fault,” “no one deserves to be treated this way,” or “I’m sorry they hurt you” go a long way toward healing the effects of abuse.
Asking, “Why don’t you just leave?” blames the victim for the abuse. Leaving any relationship is hard. Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous thing to do. Let your friend or family member know you are there for them whenever they need help. For more ideas on how to be supportive, call our 24-hour Help Line at 541-389-7021.
What is Post-Separation Violence?
Most people believe that a victim of domestic violence will be safe once they separates from the abuser. Unfortunately, leaving does not usually put an end to the violence. Oftentimes, this can be the most dangerous time in a relationship. An abuser may escalate the violence in an attempt to force the victim to reconcile. They may also be reacting to a perceived rejection or abandonment by their partner.
Post-separation violence can take many forms, including physical or sexual assault, threats of physical abuse,stalking, harassment, and threats related to taking custody of the children or refusing child support.
Leaving an abusive relationship requires strategic planning and possible legal intervention to keep you and your children safe. Possible legal remedies to keep you and your children safe include restraining orders or stalking orders. If you feel your safety or the safety of your children may be at risk over parenting time or exchanges of the children, you may want to consider supervised visitation and exchanges through our Mary's Place facility.
Saving Grace works to engage the community in sexual assault and domestic violence prevention efforts underway in Central Oregon. We all, men and women alike, have a responsibility to prevent domestic and sexual violence in our communities. When bystanders are reluctant to get involved in "other people's business," the message is that violence is acceptable.
Support victims and let abusers know their behavior is not okay.
Insist that offenders be prosecuted.
Tell policymakers to devote funding and resources to prevent domestic violence.
Donate money and time to your local domestic violence agency.
Talk to your kids about being respectful in relationships.
Please contact Saving Grace to find out how you can help.
Unique roles for men
Most men are good men; however some men use violence against their partners. Stopping men's violence is a men's issue, even if women are most often affected.
Join forces with other men to speak out and put an end to the silence that condones domestic abuse and sexual assault.
If someone you know is abusing a partner—or is abusive in general—don't look the other way.
Be a mentor and a role model. Teach young boys about how to be men in ways that do not involve degrading or abusing others. Teach boys early and remind them often that there is no place for violence in a relationship.
If you suspect that someone close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask what you can do to help.
Watch a video or read an essay by Jackson Katz, a former college football player turned anti-violence educator who has lectured about this topic to thousands.