Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DV 101 - Effects on Children

Witnessing domestic violence has a number of negative effects on children, even if they were never physically abused themselves. For a personal account, we encourage you to view this video of actor Patrick Stewart as he discusses his experience with family violence as a child.

The following list of effects is not all-encompassing, nor does it reflect the experience of every child. Some children will suffer many of the effects listed, some a few of them, some none at all, and some will have reactions not listed. However, this list describes the extent of the damage that family violence has on the children who witness it.

  • Feeling guilty about the abuse and believing that the abuse is their fault
  • Feeling guilty for not stopping the abuse
  • Believing that it is their responsibility to protect one parent from the violent acts of the other
  • Grief, depression, embarrassment, resentment
  • Fear of being abused
  • Fear of losing a parent
  • Fear of having to fend for oneself
  • Fear for the safety of siblings
  • Believing that it is their responsibility to keep siblings safe
  • Anger about the chaos in their lives
  • Feeling helpless and hopeless


  • Blaming others for their own behavior
  • Believing that it is acceptable to use abusive behavior in order to control others
  • Low self- esteem
  • Not expressing needs
  • Inability to trust others
  • Rigid stereotypes about gender roles


  • Aggressive and “out of control” behavior
  • Excessive concern about achieving or being “good”
  • Disinterest in school achievement
  • Adopting the role of caretaker for siblings and/or an abused parent
  • Becoming passive and withdrawn
  • Becoming aloof, sarcastic, defensive, or overly sensitive
  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Bedwetting and having nightmares
  • Mimicking the abuser’s behavior


  • Isolating from others
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Poor anger management and problem-solving skills
  • Excessive social involvement (to avoid home life)
  • Passivity with peers or bullying peers
  • Perpetrating violence or tolerating violence in dating relationships
  • Engaging in exceedingly rough play


  • Acting nervous, anxious, or not paying attention (may have a false ADHD diagnosis)
  • Acting lethargic
  • Becoming frequently ill
  • Exhibiting poor personal hygiene
  • Developmental delays
  • Desensitization to physical and/or emotional pain
  • Engaging in high risk behaviors
  • Engaging in self abuse

Friday, January 25, 2008

Children hurting children

On January 3rd, a group of teenagers (ranging from 15 to 19 years of age) was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas for allegedly running a forced prostitution ring.

According to Lieutenant Ken Dean, the gang members targeted runaways and girls in otherwise unstable homes. If the girls refused to cooperate, they were beaten and sexually assaulted. The gang would also threaten the girls' families. Detectives have found five victims ranging from 12 to 16 years of age, but they suspect there are more.
"The age of the victims and suspects is the surprising part of it," Dean said."To have such young individuals in a somewhat organized business, a forced prostitution ring, is somewhat alarming and such a horrendous crime against the 12- to 16-year-old girls."
This tragic story further illustrates the trend of violence against women growing younger and younger. In November, The Big Picture brought you the story of two boys ages 8 and 9 who were charged with raping an 11 year old girl. We also talked to you about the growing epidemic of forced pregnancy as an abusive tactic used by teen boys.

In March 2006, Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned a study on violence within teen dating relationships. The results, reported by The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, are not encouraging.

The results show that alarming numbers of teens experience and accept abusive behavior in dating relationships. Many teens also feel physically and sexually threatened.

-1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.

-1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they've been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.

-1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.

-Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.
These revelations concerning violent behaviors illuminates the urgency of our message. If not for ourselves, then for our children, society must take a clear stand that domestic violence will not be tolerated.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

DV 101 - Abusive Tactics

Though certainly not a comprehensive list of methods of abuse in a relationship, these are some of the most common abusive tactics we have seen used to maintain power and control over another person.

Physical Force – An abusive person may misuse physical power to restrain, injure, and terrify their partner. This results in the establishment of fear and control in the relationship.

Sexual Abuse – This includes carrying out any sexual interaction that is unwanted by the person with whom you are being sexual. Manipulative and coercive behaviors that are intended to gain compliance are also forms of sexual abuse.

Verbal Abuse – A person using verbal violence may degrade their partner; call him or her names, and say cruel and hurtful things. The long-term negative consequences of this victimization can be as devastating as those of physical and sexual abuse.

Isolation – Abusers, once they have established power in the relationship, may isolate their partner by making it difficult or impossible for her to be with family and friends. He may block his partner’s access to the use of a vehicle, work opportunities, telephone and internet services, and any or all connections to the world outside of the relationship.

Financial Abuse – A person behaving abusively may take complete control of the household money. Threats to withhold money are used to control the family.

Threats – Abusers may tell their partners and/or children how they will hurt them if they do not obey.

Breaking or Striking Objects – Abusive behavior may include breaking household items, punching holes in walls, or kicking doors to scare the victim.

Lying – Abusive people often lie to themselves and others. They put a “spin” on events in their lives in order to avoid responsibility for the violence that they perpetrate. Lying about affairs and finances are common occurrences.

Jealousy – At times, people confuse or equate feelings of jealousy with feelings of love. An abusive person may frequently and suspiciously ask questions about their partner’s conversations, whereabouts, activities, and experiences. A person who is behaving abusively may become verbally and/or physically aggressive and accusatory when, for any reason, they are not the focus of their partner’s attention.

Manipulation – A person who is behaving abusively will attempt to justify their abusive behavior by relating it to their “concern” or “love” for their partner. They may also attempt to exploit their partner’s feelings of love and compassion.

Unrealistic Expectations – A person behaving abusively may expect their partner to meet all of their needs, to take care of everything for them emotionally and/or domestically.

Blames Others for Problems, Emotions, and Abusive Behavior – A perpetrator of intimate partner violence will often blame others (usually partners and other family members) for their abusive behavior and negative emotions. Perpetrators of domestic violence CHOOSE to use violence as a means of controlling their partners and children. Learning to take responsibility for the violence that they perpetrate and the consequences of that violence is the first step toward becoming a person who will embrace non-violence as a way a life.

Use of Children – An abusive person may use the children to control their spouse. Children are at times asked to monitor the behavior of one parent and report on that behavior to the other.

Cruelty to Animals – Abusive behavior may include injury to the family pets.

Duel Personality – “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde” – A person behaving abusively may shift quickly between moods. The victim may feel like she has to “walk on eggshells” not knowing what to expect.

Minimizing or Denying Violence – Perpetrators of domestic violence often say things like, “It’s not that bad,” “I didn’t do anything,” and “You’re just overreacting.” Over time, this kind of “crazy making” behavior can cause a victim of abuse to question herself and the reality and seriousness of the nightmare that they are experiencing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Patrick Stewart Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence

Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard in the Star Trek Series and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films, speaks about his experiences growing up in a violent home for Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. The video is about 5 minutes long, and we encourage you to view it in its entirety.

via videosift.com

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

DV 101 - Staying and Leaving

Because it is the first of the year, WRC has decided to devote our next series of posts to what we call "DV 101". This will probably become our New Year's routine, as new readers find our blog and want to learn more about the basics of domestic violence. The material that we will post here over the next few weeks is taken directly from our volunteer training manual, and we encourage you to post any questions that you may have in the comments section.

Today's topic: Why women stay and why they leave

Many people not involved with an abusive partner say that if their mates ever harmed them they would leave. Many women living with abuse remember the same resolve. Why do they stay? Why might they go back? Why do some women permanently separate from an abusive partner?

There are serious factors that weigh on a women’s decision to stay or leave. This is the man she loves, or has loved. This man may be the father of her children. Ending an intimate relationship is very difficult, even more so when self-confidence has been eroded by abusive words and actions. Women report that the following factors influence stay/leave decisions:

Hope for change. Many abusive mates become remorseful after inflicting violence. This contrite behavior may include promising never to hit again, agreeing to seek counseling, reminding his partner of how hard he works and the stresses that he is under, and acknowledging his love for her in meaningful ways. Since women often build their lives around their relationships, they hope for change.

Isolation. Many women living with domestic abuse lose their support systems. The person using violence may isolate their partner, as much as possible, from the world that exists outside the relationship. For example, she may be prohibited from using the telephone and the computer, getting the mail, working, attending worship services, and socializing with friends and family. People who use violence to control their partners are often highly possessive and excessively jealous. They may believe that they “own” their wives/girlfriends and are entitled to her exclusive attention and absolute obedience.

Societal denial. Many women experiencing abuse fear that no one will believe that their husbands or partners are violent. Most people who use violence to control their partners keep their tyrannical behavior behind closed doors. People who use intimate partner violence are not “all bad”. They may, in fact, be charming and even kind some of the time. The positive aspects of these individuals are often the only characteristics visible to the outside world. Women experiencing intimate partner violence often discover that people and agencies in the community may trivialize the impact of the violence. She may conclude that since no one seems to understand the seriousness of her situation, they will not support her efforts to free herself from the violence.

Barriers to leaving. Many women who are experiencing intimate partner violence try to leave their violent and controlling partners. Frequently, abusive partners create numerous obstacles making leaving difficult, if not impossible. Many threaten to try to get custody of the children, to withhold support, to interfere with her employment, to advise prospective landlords that she is not credit-worthy, to turn the children or family against her, to kill her or other family members if she leaves, to commit suicide, or to escalate his violence in other ways in an attempt to hold her in the relationship. When women leave violent partners they are often threatened and stalked. Many stalkers are successful and follow through on their threats to injure or kill.

Belief in a Family Violence Intervention Program. Women experiencing domestic violence are often reluctant to leave the relationship when their partners enter an FVIP. Women may believe that the changes and transformations that they have been hoping for are finally on the horizon. However, FVIP providers and victim advocates agree that there is no guarantee that any intervention program will result in a safer life for the victim of violence.

Dangers in leaving. Many women who experience intimate partner violence know that leaving their partner is not a safe option. Women are at a 75% greater risk of being seriously injured or killed after they leave. Even with an extensive coordinated community response to the crimes committed against women by male partners, it is still extremely difficult and dangerous for some women to escape the tyrants who keep them as possessions and prisoners.

Economic autonomy. Despite the risks and barriers, many women leave violent partners and they are eventually safer because of doing so. In these situations, the most likely predictor of whether she will return to the violent relationship is her economic viability.

Leaving is a process. Most women leave and return to violent partners many times. Her trial “runs” teach her what to expect regarding the reactions and responses of family, friends, institutions of faith, community based agencies, law enforcement, and the courts. She may also be learning to manage her grief and sense of loss as she faces the harsh realities of her current situation. Some women leave when dependant children grow old enough to leave home. Other women stay in violent relationships until they finish school, or save enough money for a new start.

This information is adapted from an article written in 1990 by Barbara J. Hart, Esq.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Property Damage

MARKHAM, Illinois (AP) -- A suburban Chicago man is accused of setting an apartment fire -- killing his pregnant daughter, her husband and their young child -- because the son-in-law didn't ask permission for the marriage, prosecutors said. (Emphasis added)

According to the Associated Press, on Tuesday, Subhash Chander was held without bond on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated arson. Chander (a native of India) told police that the gasoline spilled during an argument with his son-in-law. He also stated that he ignited the gas with a lighter because he was angry and that he disliked his son-in-law because he belonged to a lower caste and had married his daughter without his consent. Prosecutors dispute the claim that the gasoline could have spilled during an argument, citing the fact that all other tenants of the 36-unit apartment complex were able to escape and therefore the victims must have been sleeping.

Though the violence was committed by a parent and not a romantic partner, the same mindset is evident in this case that is seen in many incidents of domestic violence: the perpetrator would rather kill his daughter and her whole family than relinquish his control over her. In his mind, she was merely property to be passed from one man to another, but only to a man of whom the father approved. Because his son-in-law did not ask his permission for marriage, instead trusting that his wife could make decisions for herself regardless of paternal permission, the father was willing to burn the entire family alive.