This topic, violence towards women, is something that unfortunately occurs also in the WN movement. I personally know few women that have experienced violence – both mental and physical – from their partners. Leaving such relationship is not always as easy as you’d think; fear is a great factor.
I’m not a professional in these matters nor have I experienced violence myself. The information I’ve gathered here, however, is produced by a Finnish association specialized in helping and supporting families and those who have experienced family violence.
HOW IS AN EQUAL PARTNERSHIP LIKE
Partnership is one of the most important relationships in our life. Equality is one aspect in a healthy and balanced partnership.
Evaluate your own partnership and its equality with the help of the following list:
Can you negotiate fairly about things?
– Finding solutions that satisfy both
– Willingness to do compromises
Are you equal in financial matters?
– Making financial decisions together
– Financial profit for both participants
Do you share responsibility?
– Division of labor that is fair and agreed together
– Making together those decisions that have with the family to do
– Both feel themselves safe
-Ability to listen without judging
– Mental support and understanding
-Appreciation of opinions
Do you trust each other; do you get support from each other?
– Supporting the goals that both have in life
-Right to own opinions, feelings, activities and friends
Are you responsible parents?
– Sharing the responsibility of being a parent
– A positive and non-violent role-model for the children
Honesty and trust?
– Accepting the responsibility of yourself
– Acknowledging the violence used before
– Admittance of being wrong
– Open and honest communication
TYPES OF VIOLENCE TOWARDS WOMEN
– Tearing from hair
– Hitting with fist, kicking
– Use of different weapons
Consequences: bruises, losing the hear, sight or ability to move, lost of an expected child.
– Forcing to sex
– Sexual touching or attention that the woman does not want
-Treating as a sex object
– Damaging the intimate parts of the body
– Verbal violence
– Letting the woman believe that she’s mentally disturbed
– Giving the silent treatment
– Treating as a servant
– Not letting to participate in decisions
– Yelling and name-calling
-Verbal and non-verbal threat
-Following, disturbance, isolation
– Destroying the woman’s belongings
-Cruelty towards pets
-Using children as a weapon of mental violence and control
– Forbidding the woman to have a job
– The woman has to ask for money / the man gives her weekly money
– Keeping the woman out of money
Physical and sexual violence or threatening with them are the most common forms of violence directed to women who live in a partnership. It’s typical that the different forms of violence appear together. It’s difficult to see the many forms of power and control.
FACTS AND BELIEFS
Violence stops when you move together, get married and have children.
Almost always the violence continues despite of these life changes. When the relationship gets stable, the violence increases and gets more regular and serious.
Violence is arguing and battle of power in a partnership.
Violence is not a part of normal arguing, it’s not negotiating between two people.
The woman is causing the violence herself by her own behavior.
This is the most common belief. In fact women try to change and adjust their behavior so that it pleases the partner and prevents the violence. Violence is not dependable on the victim’s behavior or it’s changing.
Women stay voluntarily in violent relation-ships.
Women are ashamed of their men’s behavior and their own submitting. The consequence is often that the woman gets separated from human relations and social life. It’s hard to get out of this trap. The biggest reason for staying is the fear – fear towards the partner, fear of revenge or fear of one’s own survival alone or with the children.
Women who are targeted to violence are mentally disturbed.
Violence always causes the victim a mental crisis and a trauma. It effects deeply on her self-esteem and her feeling of value as a human being.
Violence is a consequence of using drugs and/or alcohol.
The role of alcohol in violence is being over-estimated. Also fully sober people can be violent. Violence doesn’t necessarily stop when the drinking stops.
Man behaves violently because he has a traumatic childhood.
If the man has had a violent model of behavior in his home he can still be aware of this as an adult and change his thinking and behavior. When he’s a grown-up he’s fully responsible of his behavior, his choices and the direction of his life. Violence is not a problem of mental health.
Man is using his fist because he’s not able to express himself in other ways.
It has not been discovered that men who use violence would be less able to express themselves than other men. Violence is not a problem of communication.
WHY DOES A LOVING HAND HURT YOU?
Violence is an effective way to gain and maintain power and control. A man who is using violence tries to control the woman with the help of fear.
A violent man believes that the woman is a source of his well being and thus she’s responsible for it. That’s why he tries to control her behavior, thoughts and feelings in every way, so that his own problems wouldn’t come up.
Many women have noticed that their men are “double personalities.” They can be very charming, warm and intelligent to outsiders. But at home they’re like different persons. This makes the victim uncertain of her own feelings and thoughts; she doesn’t know what’s true and what’s lie.
DOES EDUCATION MATTER?
There’s violence in all classes of society. The level of man’s education does not matter. He can have a very powerful position in society, he can help people in his job, he can be a Christian.
DEPENDANT ON THE WOMAN
A man who acts violently is very dependable on the woman. She’s property and fulfiller or needs, she doesn’t get any respect as a human being. Jealously and self-centrism are often involved.
HOW DOES VIOLENCE EFFECT CHILDREN?
Children can sense the tense atmosphere at home even if they directly didn’t see the violence. Many children try to protect their mother and take responsibility of the situation. They might feel guilty of loving the violent father despite of everything.
Children suffer from similar consequences as women. They might have different pains like headache and stomachache. They might also have problems in learning, behavior disturbances, depression and aggressions. Especially boys can identify with father’s behavior and start using violence themselves .It’s possible that the man starts using violence also towards the children.
HOW TO AVOID A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP
Usually all partnerships begin with falling in love, also those where the man later starts acting violently. Several women have noticed certain signs that occur before the direct violence begins.
Signs of possible violence
The man is jealous and demanding.
Jealousies also directs to friends and relatives.
The relationship begins with fast emotional affection. The woman becomes a center of emotions and expectations without you cannot live.
The man has unrealistic expectations towards the woman.
The man acts in a controlling way; he wants to know where the woman is, what she does and who she meets.
The man expects the woman to follow his directions and orders.
The man makes the woman feel that she always has to be sorry of something or apologize all the time.
The woman feels that she never does anything right, she doesn’t dare to say her opinions.
The man is always blaming others of his problems.
The man has demands what comes to sex or uses power to get sexual pleasure.
The man has strict opinions on gender roles.
The man is acting rough, uses physical power to get what he wants.
The woman is afraid of the man when he gets angry.
The man is behaving totally different when he’s with outsiders.
The man is joking around, making remarks in company, the woman gets embarrassed and feels shame.
The man is cruel towards pets.
The man is breaking things in the home.
The man is using physical power during arguments, for example shakes from the shoulders.
The man’s father was violent in his childhood.
The man has been acting violently in his earlier relationships.
REACTIONS CAUSED BY VIOLENCE
Violence is usually causing the victim feelings of shame and guilt. It’s also common to feel yourself scared, insulted, submitted, and humiliated. These reactions are perfectly normal forever-human being; they don’t mean you are guilty for the violence. All feelings, also anger and rage, are right and justified. Violence is always an unfair act that nobody deserves.
Physical shock reaction
Immediately or after few days the victim is experiencing feelings of irreality, it’s hard for her to think and act clear, receive information. She feels anger and sorrow, joy and confusion, panic and emptiness.
She might have physical reactions: feeling of weakness, pressure in the chest, troubles in breathing or heart bumping. If she got injuries, the feelings of pain might come later. It’s possible she doesn’t want to eat, she might also have stomach etc. pains, she can experience troubles with sleep.
The shock reaction might take few hours or few months.
TIPS FOR SAFETY
If you live with a violent person here is a safe plan for you:
If you must escape fast, think the way out. Doors? Windows?
What is the safest room in your home?
Avoid rooms without escape (bathroom, sauna).
Avoid rooms with knives etc. (kitchen).
Make a reason that allows you to leave.
Make some routine that allows you go out on a regular basis.
Where can you go, where is the nearest phone?
Make a list of emergency numbers. Keep it with you.
Make a list of phone numbers of those people who can help you. Keep it with you.
Are there are signs that occur before violent behavior?
Write down all acts of violence and threats as well as the images connected with them.
Try to save money for the leaving.
Keep a packed bag with all important papers and things in a place where you can get it easily.
Explain the children you might have to leave. Take them with you if possible.
Teach your children to call the emergency number.
Tell your neighbors about the violence, make a password for emergency situation.
YOUR SAFETY AT A MOMENT OF AN ATTACK
Call to the emergency / police number.
It’s not always possible to foresee and avoid a violent situation. When this happens try to move into such places in your home where a) the attacker has least possibilities to use different weapons b) where you can easiest get to the front door. If you get attacked cover your head and stomach by bowing and using your hands as a shelter. Scream loud.
If you have time to prepare for leaving
1) Leave when the partner is not home.
2) Take the children with you.
3) Take all important papers with you.
4) Be prepared in case your husband closes or exceeds your common accounts.
5) Take all those personal belongings with you that have emotional value for you.
6) Take jewelry, photos, most important toys and medicines with you.
7) If necessary you can come back to get other things together with the police.
If you have already moved away
1) Get a secret phone number
2) Make possible meetings to places where there are other people around.
3) Write down all threats and acts of violence.
4) Ask contact information of possible witnesses.
5) Change the locks of your apartment if you think your ex-partner have got keys for them.
6) Don’t be alone.
7) Change your daily routines, routes, times of leaving and so on.
8) Think how to escape in case your ex-partner finds you.
9) Tell about the danger at your workplace, kindergarten, school and so on.
After beating or sexual violence go as soon as possible to a doctor. It increases your chances with the law; you need documentation if you want to do a report of an office.
Make sure that the doctor sees all possible signs of violence, also those covered with clothes. Don’t wash yourself or your clothes before going to the doctor.
You have a right to get the doctor statement to yourself.
Remember that there are various phone numbers and associations where you can call 24 hours a day for free to get mental and legal advice.