Understanding domestic abuse can prevent it

Fist - Understanding domestic abuse can prevent it

For many, it’s a shame filled secret—for society, an emotionally deadly epidemic. It’s happening at record numbers—and its effects are nothing short of catastrophic.

Affecting millions each year, intimate partner violence, commonly referred to as domestic violence, is the invisible wound of so many—and the toxic result of love gone wrong.

It’s the silent reason behind many mental health diagnoses and the unattributed cause of many emergency room visits.

Intimate partner violence is happening in epic proportions—heightened public awareness is urgently and desperately needed—and that’s just the beginning.

New research and treatments are leading the way—restoring hope and providing help for the perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence.

Leading the pack, researcher and noted speaker Lundy Bancroft, writes prolifically about the thinking of people who choose to perpetrate abuse in intimate partner relationships. In Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Bancroft explains the thought patterns, abuse in the context of intimate relationships, the perpetration of abuse from a global perspective and ways in which perpetrators can change.

Bancroft dispels myths and voices clarity: no one mental or psychiatric illness accounts for the actions of those that perpetrate violence toward their significant other. The abusive behavior is largely accounted for by the dysfunctional value system that abusive people typically possess. Bancroft delineates his message about dysfunctional value systems and their role in intimate partner violence stating, “The problem is not that you lose control over yourself, it’s that you take control of your partner. In order to change, you don’t need to gain control of yourself, you need to let go of control of her.” Bancroft’s message is too often unheard and largely misunderstood.

His words echo clearly and concisely to all those who have been victimized: It is not your fault. People who perpetrate intimate partner violence possess flawed value systems, skewed thought patterns, and distorted early experiences.

For victims of intimate partner violence, the journey of recovery is the most painful journey of their life. It takes nothing less than profound courage, sheer determination, and humanistic and empathic therapy–to be free from the chains of abuse in intimate partner violence.

In her revolutionary book, Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman speaks to the journey of recovery in the aftermath of all types of devastating abuse—from emotional, to financial to physically violent abuse. Herman’s approach is simple, yet complex. It emphasizes the need for safety, mourning and the reconnection of self—for those wrought by the devastation of relationship abuse.

Herman combines the best of humanistic psychology and the integral elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy for a proven method for healing the hurt and awakening hope. Spreading over the globe, Herman’s humanistic methods have seen wide spread validation. Last month, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology published a study combining Herman’s methods and others—in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in women who have experienced domestic violence. Researchers combined Herman’s methods in a tripartite model stressing the elements of external and internal safety, mourning and reconnecting to self and life. It’s been found successful in helping people heal and in reducing the risk of involvement in future abusive relationships.

Summarizing her life’s work, Herman adds, “”It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering.”

Relationship abuse is never tolerable. Its society’s worst kept secret. For the perpetrator, change is possible. For the victim, healing is within reach.

— Liz Schreiber

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