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What To Do….

Safety Plan

Symptoms of Spouse Abuse

In general, women who are abused physically are often isolated. Their partners tend to control their lives to a great extent as well as verbally degrade them. Some examples follow:
  • the woman mentions not being able to use the telephone
  • she is forbidden from seeing friends unless he is along
  • the man has exclusive control over all money and household financial matters
  • she is not allowed in the decision making process at home
  • he won’t let her learn to drive, go to school, get a job
  • she is limited in her freedom as a child would be. For example, “Go to the store, get milk and come straight home. It should take you 15 minutes”
  • look for self-esteem, poor self-concept. The woman speaks very poorly of herself. She is unable to make eye contact, always looks away or at the ground when talking
  • many times women complain of non-specific aches and pains that are constant and recurring. These are stress related problems

Common Characteristics of Battered Women
She may:

  • have low self esteem
  • believe all the mythic about battering relationships
  • be a traditionalist about the home, may strongly believe in family unity and the prescribed feminine sex-role stereotype
  • accept responsibility for the batterer’s actions
  • suffer from guilty, yet deny the terror and anger she feels
  • have severe stress reactions with psycho physiological complaints
  • use sex as a way to establish intimacy
  • believe that no one will be able to help her resolve her predicament

Similarities in Stories of Battered Women

  • initial surprise
  • unpredictability of acute battering incidents
  • overwhelming jealousy
  • unusual sexuality
  • lucid recall of the details of acute battering incidents
  • concealment
  • drinking
  • extreme psychological abuse
  • family threats
  • extraordinary terror through the use of guns and knives
  • omnipotence
  • awareness of death potential

Common Reactions of Women Being Beaten

  • Denial or minimization of the abuse: “It really wasn’t that bad.” or “He only hits me every few months.”
  • Blames herself: He tells her “You make me mad!” Then if she can figure out how to make him happy, she can prevent the battering.
  • Seeks help: She goes to friends, relatives, clergy, shelters, or even to a motel.
  • Ambivalence: The woman who can work on her ambivalence will be more successful.
  • All of these can be going on at once, they are not necessarily single steps.

The Progression of Violence

Pre-battering Violence
  • verbal abuse
  • hitting objects
  • throwing objects
  • breaking objects
  • making threats

When abusers hit or break objects or make threats, almost 100% eventually resort to battering.

Beginning Levels

  • pushing
  • grabbing
  • restraining

Moderate Levels

  • slapping
  • pinching
  • kicking
  • pulling out clumps of hair

Severe Levels

  • choking
  • beating with objects (sticks, ball bats, bed slats, etc…)
  • use of weapons
  • rape

One in three women in a battering relationship are raped.

There are Two Kinds of Rape in Domestic Violence

  1. with weapons
  2. she submits out of fear that if she were to say, “No,” he would get angry and beat her.

Signs of Rehabilitation

  • He accepts responsibility for his violence.
  • He goes into treatment without victim.
  • He goes into treatment with no strings attached.

Saying, “I’ll go if you will come back,” is an effort to regain control of the woman.

Profile of an Abuser

Using Emotional Abuse
  • Putting her down
  • Making her feel bad about herself
  • Calling her names
  • Making her think she’s crazy
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating her
  • Making her feel guilty

Using Male Privilege

  • Treating her like a servant
  • Making all the big decisions
  • Acting like the “Master of the castle”
  • Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Using Economic Abuse

  • Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
  • Making her ask for money
  • Giving her an allowance
  • Taking her money
  • Not letting her know about or have access to family income

Using Coercion and Threats

  • Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her
  • Threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to the welfare agency
  • Making her drop charges
  • Making her do illegal things

Using Intimidation

  • Making her afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions
  • Smashing things
  • Abusing pets
  • Displaying Weapons

Using Children

  • Making her feel guilty about the children
  • Using the children to relay messages
  • Using visitation to harass her
  • Threatening to take the children away

Using Isolation

  • Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to,what she reads, & where she goes
  • Limiting her outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify actions

Minimizing, Denying, Blaming

  • Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously
  • Saying the abuse didn’t happen
  • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
  • Saying she caused it

Common Characteristics of a Batterer

He may:

  • have low self esteem
  • believe all the myths about battering relationships
  • be a traditionalist believing in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine sex role in the family
  • blame others for his actions
  • be pathologically jealous
  • present a dual personality
  • have severe stress reactions during which he uses drinking and battering to cope
  • frequently use sex as an act of aggression to enhance his self-esteem
  • not believe his violent behavior should have negative consequences

Symptoms of Children Who Witness Abuse

  • serious problems with temper tantrums
  • continual fighting at school or between siblings
  • lashing out at objects, inside or outside of the home
  • treating pets cruelly or abusively
  • threatening younger sister or brother with violence. For instance, “You get over here with my teddy bear, or I’ll kill you. I’ll slice you into little pieces with a knife.”
  • attempting to get attention through hitting, kicking or choking
  • modeling after dad–“Monkey see, monkey do”


  • withdrawal, signs not so obvious
  • occasional cringing if you raise your arm

How He Gets You To Come Back

Honeymoon Syndrome
Also known as “Hearts and Flowers” – any bribe that will get her to return to him.

Super Dad Syndrome
He tells her that he will be a great dad if she returns. This works especially if he has neglected the kids in the past.

Revival Syndrome
This is not really a valid revival or salvation since he has probably only gone to church only a few times. “I have been going to church every Sunday since you left.” Or, “I have accepted Christ into my life.”

He puts the responsibility for his battering on God.

Sobriety Syndrome
“If he can stop drinking he will stop beating me.”

Drinking does not cause beating – if it did, then they would beat strangers on the street.

Counseling Syndrome
“I have gone to counseling, I won’t do it anymore.”

Long term counseling is needed and less than 1% voluntarily go into counseling.

ver: 3.5.2 | last updated: