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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual, to exert power and control over another person, usually in an intimate relationship. It can be physical, sexual, or psychological. The primary purpose is to control, to dominate, or to hurt another within the relationship. Domestic Violence may occur between a male abuser and a female victim; a female abuser and a male victim; two women; or two men. The Domestic Violence statute also extends protection to the elderly and to children.

ABUSE under our statute in Tennessee is:

- Violence
- Threats of violence
- Malicious destruction of property
- Holding against the will
- Placing in fear
- Stalking
- Sexual assault

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually
the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the
batterer, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill threat of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the woman’s life and circumstances.

The Power & Control diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over his partner. Very often, one or more violent
incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.

Minimization and Denial
In this stage the victim denies the seriousness of the situation and excuses the abuser: “He doesn’t know his own strength. He was out of control/drunk/high. It didn’t hurt that much.”
The abuser, who rarely gets beyond this stage, says: “I didn’t really hurt her much. She made me angry or pushed my buttons. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was out of control/drunk/high.”
This is an inescapable feature of life with a batterer as well as being a recurring component in psychological reactions to trauma.  

The victim is irresolute at this stage, trying one alternative after another. It is at this point that the victim may respond to the batterer’s attempts to reconcile, or initiate their own attempts at reconciliation. It is the victim’s behavior during this stage which appears to cause the greatest frustration and anger to individuals in the helping professions, friends or family members. Most often, these attempts at reconciliation do not work, but most, end in further abuse.

This stage can last for years as the victim slowly gets the strength and support from each voyage to the “outer world” to overcome the psychological restraints to move onto the final stage:
Living without Violence
Although a survivor of domestic abuse may live without violence after leaving an abusive relationship, she may well suffer from long-term depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome along with a host of other stress reactions to the violence and trauma she suffered.

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