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Posts Tagged ‘IPV’

Why didn’t she leave?

Why wasn’t there an arrest?

We didn’t see anything wrong; they seemed like the perfect couple.

These are the statements people often make when they learn about an abusive relationship, especially when one ends in homicide. Assumptions about domestic violence are rife in modern society. We tend to armchair quarterback others’ relationships instead of taking the time to understand the dynamics of and patterns within domestic violence.

Jane Monckton Smith, a Professor of Public Protection in the UK, has written In Control: Dangerous Relationships and How They End in Murder. You may have seen Professor Monckton Smith being interviewed on crime shows or have read her other books. This book, however, should be required reading for humanity.

Monckton Smith takes readers through eight easy-to-understand stages of how domestic violence progresses to homicide. She offers examples from her own career that are relatable and straightforward. Many can see their own tendencies, or that of someone they know, in the people she has studied and interviewed.

By the end of this book, you might be stunned by how simple, how logical, how obvious these eight stages are. Using the eight stages as a template, you can set that template on nearly any deadly domestic situation and see how closely it fits. All of us, with rare exception, are very familiar with deadly relationships thanks to the media, so this can be used as a tool to understand what has actually happened.

I firmly agree with Monckton Smith that people don’t “just lose it,” one of the premises of this book. That is a myth. The “crime of passion” theory, that someone was murdered in the heat of the moment, is a convenient go-to explanation, sometimes used so that we don’t have to deal with the gruesome reality of the buildup and outcome. As she explains, long before the murder there is a devaluing of the victim and decisions are made by the killer that culminate in the taking of a human life.

Monckton Smith is also wise to point out the erroneous judgments society makes against the victims. She has great empathy for why victims are trapped in dangerous relationships and why they can’t usually “just leave.” We always seem to ask this after someone is hurt or dead, “why didn’t she just leave?” At one point in the book she asks, “why didn’t he leave?” He (or she) had the freedom to leave at any time: they had the means, the freedom, the income, the ability to exit safely, not the victim.

This statement– why didn’t he leave– nails what domestic violence is all about: power and control. Abusers don’t want to give up power and control. This is why the risk of homicide goes up so dramatically when a victim tries to leave an abusive relationship; the abuser still wants control. Some abusers are so desperate to retain control that they are willing to kill their partner, spouse, and even their own children so that they “win.”

The author features interviews with actual murderers in this book to show that power and control takes different forms. Others may see the “nice guy,” the “quiet recluse,” the “violent drunk,” or the “jilted lover.” These killers may present as something entirely opposite of who they are. Thanks to her experiences in policing in particular, she looks deeper, finding that yes, regardless of how different these killers are, they still progressed through the stages that lead to homicide.

Beneath different personalities, beneath different MOs, beneath different situations and circumstances, Monckton Smith identifies an often insidious progression that leads from alleged love to cold, calculated death. Its presence in so many different cases is eerie and unsettling. Yet if we would simply educate people about it, it would be so much more obvious to all when it occurs. We would be able to stop the fatal progression and save lives.

We should be educating children about domestic violence. Teens should absolutely know the warning signs of a controlling relationship. They should also know how and where to get help. Imagine if we made In Control required reading in high schools, if we actually sent young people into adulthood with a functional knowledge of what constitutes a healthy relationship and what does not. Many of us had no clue. But with a book like this, there are no more excuses.

As a side note, there are references in this book to the UK’s legal system and police forces that Americans may be unfamiliar with. You should be able to figure them out quickly, and Monckton Smith does explain some of them.

Overall, please consider sharing In Control with your local schools, shelters, advocates, police forces, libraries, and especially churches. Churches sometimes have a particular naivete about this progression to death, blaming and shaming victims instead. It’s time that we all know this, we all use this, and we stop letting these eight stages run their course until they culminate in murder.

No more excuses. There aren’t any more excuses with a book like this available.


©2022 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com

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Wow.

I just watched this video by Fabio D’Andrea and Mel B. It says everything without saying a word.

This is four minutes of truth that showcases the horrifying ebb and flow of an abusive relationship.

Abusive relationships don’t start this way. The abuser may sweep the victim off their feet, seeming like a long-awaited soul mate. They may be charming, be well-liked, seem vulnerable. They may be that “great guy” or the “perfect woman.” They may convince you they’re the only one who really understands.

They start to test you, start to push your boundaries. Drop by drop, before you have any idea what’s happening, they suck your sense of self away. You begin to lose control over small decisions. Your friends aren’t quite up to their standards, so you start spending more time with theirs. They want to know where you are and who you’re with. If you deny them anything, the guilt trips will fall like hail until they win.

Seeing that you have been conditioned not to stand up for yourself, you’re screamed at. Accused of cheating. Pushed down. Spat upon. Slapped across the face. Fearing more, and in many cases being at a size disadvantage, you don’t fight back. When it’s over, and the sullen silence finally breaks, they’re sorry. They buy you something. They make you dinner. And the cycle of violence begins all over as you think or they promise it will never happen again. Some never make it out of that cycle alive.

In this video, you see the seething sense of entitlement the man has. She is his property. She is his prize. He’s charming, attractive, masculine, and tender in public. He has the crowd’s approval. They appear to be a wealthy, successful, well-matched couple. In private he terrorizes her, surveils her, beats on her to show her she’s not worthy of a man like him. He takes her money out of her wallet. He demands she wear something sexier to their party.

The ending scene is eerily familiar to survivors of abuse. The aerial view, like at the beginning, shows how truly isolated she was. You might leave with nothing. You might not know where you’re going. You hope he doesn’t chase you down while you’re running. But you took that step. And you’ll take the next step, and the next step, and get farther and farther away from your former life.

The farther away you get, the more you’ll detoxify. You’ll realize some people you thought were friends were enabling the abuse because they didn’t want to deal with the reality of your situation. It will dawn on you how much you were brainwashed. You’ll wonder why you ever laughed at those crude jokes, why you compromised yourself in a losing effort to please someone who took pleasure in the misery of others. You’ll be surprised to find yourself again.

If you are in a relationship like this, please know that nothing you do will ever be good enough for the person who is hurting you. They are a bottomless pit that no amount of your love can fill. You can’t fix them. It is not God’s will that you learn obedience, humility, or how to be a better spouse through their violence. God wants you to be healthy, unhurt, strong. You need an escape plan so that you, and possibly your children and pets, can exit the relationship safely. Talk to an expert, call a hotline when it’s safe to do so.

In the United States, we have The Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can talk, text, or chat from the website.

There’s also a tool that can help you Document the Abuse.

No, you don’t deserve this. You never did. You might be a man. You might be a woman. You might be gay, straight, asexual, rich, poor, introverted, extroverted, unemployed, a CEO. This affects human beings from all walks. All.

And it must stop.

You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.

Alex Elle

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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How does your church respond to domestic violence– and are they prepared for when it affects the congregation and church property?

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

In February we began a series of articles regarding What The Church Can Do. In Part 1, we defined domestic violence. Part 2 advised churches to start by believing when they learn of abuse. Part 3 contained pointers on communicating with victims, and Part 4 discussed how churches can network with advocates and authorities so they are able to respond to domestic violence efficiently. In Part 5, we touched on training your staff and volunteers plus having a list of resources available that you can safely give to victims.

That’s where most advice to churches stops when it comes to this scourge that affects a significant part of your congregation. We want churches to understand what domestic violence is and who to go to, but it’s still commonly treated like a private matter between the victim, suspect, and maybe a church…

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This article is Part 4 in a series about how churches should respond to domestic violence.

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

In previous posts we’ve discussed what domestic violence is and isn’t, how churches should respond to domestic violence, and how to interact with domestic violence victims. Some houses of worship may believe that these are the only two parties that need to be involved when abuse comes to light. Well-meaning pastors may attempt to counsel both the victim and the alleged abuser, often together, in a setting where the victim cannot safely share the facts of the situation. This may serve to empower and embolden the abuser. It may endanger the victim further. Churches should not try to handle domestic violence on their own; they need to know who to call for help.

Church leaders may feel that they have an absolute duty to try and make peace in an abusive situation. They may call in trusted church members to pray for the couple…

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