- VOC GRAD DIP, Family Dispute Resolution and mediation (2011)
- B. Social Work (2008)
- CERT IV WT & A
- CERT Suicide Intervention – First Aide / Assist 2006
- B Social Welfare (2003)
- DIP Human and Community Services (1998)
- Social Injustice, bigotry, Bugs n slugs, mess.
BEST QUOTE EVER:
You must be the change you wish to see in the world - Gandhi
Why Do People Stay in DV?
By LFG, B Soc Wk
*** All names changed to protect personal identity ***
Picture this: Five people sit in a room together.
- Liz - executive-level working Mum;
- Jana - young gay UNI student;
- Rod - burly plumber;
- Rosa - Immigrant who married a much older Australian man.
- Leisa - just barely out of her teens.
All five are affected by DV. All five choose to stay in this situation. WHY?
DV is a relationship dynamic that’s essentially a POWER STRUGGLE where one party uses coercion & intimidation in various forms - physical, emotional, sexual - to ‘control’ or dominate the other party.
As in Liz’ case, there CAN be a pattern to it as couples cycle through honeymoon; build up; stand over; explosion; and remorse phases, over & over again. John had been ‘very charming’ during their courtship nearly two decades ago. The DV incidents started with ‘John having hissy fits’ and ‘mild pushing & shoving’.
Within a few years, she was covering up facial & body bruises. Liz could hardly believe that this was happening: she was ashamed, embarrassed, believed that ‘this was not my John’. She did NOT want him to go to jail or have kids exposed to police intervention. The neighbours ‘turned a blind eye’. Over the years, the violent incidences escalated.
The general understanding is that the less time between ‘cycles’ following remorse means the cycle is getting tighter & there may be a greater of the risk of DV ending in death: and DV can prove to be ultimately fatal. Liz is currently considering leaving as ‘John is so nasty’ but now fears him, does not think anyone will believe her & does not want to disrupt their 3 children. She frets that John will work through the kids ‘to get at me & make me suffer’.
Victims of DV can describe themselves as ‘walking on eggshells’ around a perpetrator - especially in a build up phase & may also experience low self esteem, depression, guilt, a sense of isolation & poor physical & mental health themselves as a result of on-going manipulation.
This is what Leisa has experienced: Her boyfriend Craig constantly tells her she is useless, ugly & ‘washed up’. She has no skills or qualifications & has two children under 3yo. Craig tells her regularly that ‘no one will want you anyways’ so the thought of leaving is daunting.
He checks the car daily & asks her to account for her whereabouts. Her friends & family feel ‘weird’ when he’s around so have naturally dropped in numbers. Her access to money is also limited: Some weeks she is given small amounts of money & asked to perform miracles with it. It just won’t stretch! Leisa feels both deflated & defeated.
Perpetrators can erode self esteem of the other party - often over time & some victims will talk of the other party slowly & gradually isolating them from other sources of support. In Rosa’s situation, she speaks only broken English. Kerry, her Octagenarian Farmer husband allows her little money, freedom or resources of her own. Rosa’s faith does not ‘believe in divorce’ and she is not entirely aware of any rights or DV laws anyways.
Rosa would love to talk in her language of origin with some other older ladies in her town however Kerry strictly forbids it. Rosa tries to protect her now adult children from ‘Daddy going crazy’.
DV can affect people from all walks of life… It’s transcends gender & sexuality, race, religion, socio-economic standing & /or intellectual levels. Rod’s partner Ellie has been hurting him for years. Everyone knows she’s a ‘bit of a firebrand’ but she constantly nags & belittles him to the point he regularly considers suicide. Who would believe him if he DID say something? Ellie controls all the money & ‘has brainwashed the kids – I would never see them again’.
DV CAN also be inter-generational in nature & children – known as Child Witnesses of DV – can be affected by hearing or watching DV unfold in their midst. Same-sex role Modelling can occur with children affected by DV which can explain why some perpetrators & victims cite similar dynamics with their own parents.
Jana recalls clearly how violence permeated her entire childhood. She is gay & ‘actually did not believe that DV could happen in a same sex relationship’. Despite some horrific physical & sexual assaults, Jana believes her partner Mossie is ‘remorseful’ & not a bad person.
Perpetrator programs DO exist: People CAN change their behaviour. The research from the US however suggests that violent behaviour modification aims tend to be more effective when court mandated & long term & offenders are placed a group situation so they cannot minimize or externalise or collude.
DV is against the law. An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or Domestic Violence Order (DVO) can be sought by an aggrieved party &/or the police to attempt to place some safe space between parties embroiled in DV. There exist telephone counsellors (DV hotline 1800 811 811); assistants to help at DV court; Centrelink may approve emergency funds & there do exist refuges that can provide a safe space to ‘plan the hext move’. Of course no system is perfect nor meets everyone’s exact needs.
Leaving a DV situation can also take several departures before it remains permanent. There can be many reasons that prevent victims from up & leaving at the first sign of DV such as fear, limited resources, cultural or religious pressures or beliefs, believing the other party can change, low self esteem, shame & guilt etc.
To best support someone in this situation is to listen. No judgement. Provide information without expectation. Believe their story. When they are ready, they can act.