Practical Advice

Some practical info for women experiencing domestic violence

Keep a diary

Make a note every time you are assaulted giving the day and time. That way you can easily recall what actually happened whether you are going to see the police or even if you are not ready to report such incidences.

Tell someone

Tell a friend, a relative or someone at work what you've been exposed to. That way someone knows even if you don't have the strength to do anything about it at the time.

Document your injuries

Make notes and try to take photos of your injuries. If you see a doctor make sure he/she takes pictures too. Even if you're not ready now those photos can be used the day you decide to take legal action to protect yourself.

He says this was the only/last time

Find a line of retreat so you can leave quickly if he assaults you again. Find out where you can go at any hour, maybe a friend, a relative or the social authorities. Ask your friend for a key to her house - that way you always have a place to go. Look up the nearest domestic violence service during office hours, or the police after hours.

Contact a shelter/domestic violence service

At a Woman's Shelter/Service you can talk to someone and get help if you so choose. The women you talk to will always listen, believe you and never question your experiences.

You will not be asked to leave your partner!

You will be given options for you to choose.

Make a police report

Make it very clear that you won't accept his behaviour. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A CRIME. Reporting the perpetrator is crucial. Both for your sake and for the perpetrator to understand that what he did was a criminal offence.

What happens before the abuse begins?

Pay attention to how he talks about women. Listen to what he says about women in general. Maybe he's making comments about how women dress or about his female colleagues - these statements are indications of his general view of women.

Destruction and intimidation

Throwing and/or breaking (your) possessions are violent acts performed to frighten you. And don't believe that he is unable to control his frustration - does he do that at work? Using threatening gestures or merely his physical size to intimidate you are other ways to make you watch your step/keep you frightened.

Jealousy

Be warned if he insists on knowing what you are doing every minute of the day.  There will be accusations that you are seeing another man/woman, you are having an affair or sneaking around behind his back.  You will be expected to prove your loyalty and fidelity to him regularly.  

Complete control

Primarily the abuser tries to direct all situations, make decisions even if they concern her life and not his. He decides what to do and what to talk about. Gradually he takes more control and won't allow her having her own opinion about anything and finally he dictates everything she does and thinks. At this point her options seem very limited and she finds it hard to see a way out. Isolation - There's a pattern to this behaviour. He might be dropping her off at work and picking her up when she finishes. He allows her to work but preferably not full time - he likes her to spend more time at home. She's not allowed to attend parties at work or meeting colleagues in her free time. She looses touch with her friends and family because the he won't let her see them. He rarely goes right out and forbids her but by acting cold and standoffish he gets his point across.

Violence and abuse becomes "normal" and survival, a way of life.

Why does she stay?

It is important to keep in mind that verbal/financial/social abuse may start long before physical abuse. When physical abuse starts the perpetrator already has a "grip" on her. She truly believes herself to be helpless and useless and that she would be lost without him. She takes his point of view and assumes responsibility for the abuse - it's all her fault and she's a bad person. She starts to blame herself and it becomes vital to hide her shame to the rest of the world. This is why she can keep up appearances for years with no-one suspecting that she is experiencing abuse.

Violence and tenderness

The man is usually tender and kind in-between the physical abuse. He comforts her and tends to her injuries. This inconsistency makes the women focus on how kind he is rather than the fact that he abuses her.

Sexual power

Very often the physical assaults end with sexual intercourse. The woman chooses to accept intercourse rather than prolonging or intensifying the assault. This, by definition, is rape. Even so, women often don't consider this rape. She may state that he never raped her but agrees that he usually wants to have sexual intercourse after assaulting her and that she goes along with it, not because she wants to, but to calm him down and put a stop the assault.

Don't trust him when he says he'll stop

A woman doesn't necessarily have to be physically locked up to be a prisoner in her relationship. Fear, mental and physical exhaustion renders her incapable of leaving. To leave a man that is regularly abusive is not an easy thing to do. The woman needs plenty of help and support to rid herself of the grip he has on her and take control of her life again. Step by step and little by little she can prepare herself to leave.

What kinds of men abuse their partners?

No particular group. Judges, policemen, lawyers as well as unemployed alcoholics can commit domestic violence. Men who abuse women almost never confess to being perpetrators of domestic violence. They are convinced that there's something wrong with their partner (or ex partner).

What kind of women are abused?

It could happen to anyone. The police often report domestic violence in connection with other crimes and from drug-environments in the course of their work. In well-to-do neighbourhoods the walls are thicker and the hedges higher but the violence is still there only not as visible.

How often do women report and give evidence against their perpetrators?

Women who report domestic violence are asking nothing more than their human rights. Assaulting someone is a crime. Women are more frequently than ever reporting abuse to the police.

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