VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The available data on what women and girls living in the European Union have experienced since they were 15 are alarming:
Source: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 2014
WHAT IS GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE?
Gender-based violence means that violence against women does not concern one specific relationship. It is the result of the persistence of gender inequality and gender stereotypes in society. Prejudices about weak women and strong men influence notions of femininity and masculinity. Some men use violence as a means of maintaining their domination and control over women. Gender-based violence differs from other forms of violence in the fact that the sex of the victim is not incidental.
SOURCE: FRA (2014)
The term domestic violence refers to physical, sexual, psychological, social, or economic violence committed by a person close to the victim. This is often violence in intimate relationships between spouses, ex-spouses or partners, but also, for example, violence against children or the elderly.
Violence does not come right away. At the beginning of a relationship, your partner may appear to you as the kindest person in the world. Only after the first push, slap, or a broken plate will you realize that a problem has occurred. Domestic violence is long-lasting, repetitive, and increasing.
The cycle of violence has four phases with different lengths and time intervals. Physical violence is usually preceded by psychological violence.
In the phase of tension building, the abuser gradually evokes an atmosphere of tension and fear through various inconveniences and incidents, including sick (and usually unjustified) jealousy, shouting, or swearing. The perpetrator seeks any pretext to provoke a conflict.
The phase of an outbreak of violence is characterized by a full outbreak of violence, usually physical.
During the reconciliation phase (so-called honeymoons), the abuser realizes that the woman may want to end the relationship with him, but does not want to lose power and control over her. Therefore, he changes his behaviour strategy, apologizes, promises that nothing like this will happen again, assures that he will change. He shows love, regret, sadness. Or at least so he pretends.
The phase of peace or denial is characterized by relative peace, no significant incidents of violence occur in the relationship.
HOW DOES IT START AND WHERE DOES IT END?
The whole cycle is usually repeated until it is interrupted in some way. It can have countless repetitions and can last for different lengths of time - hours, weeks, years, decades.
Over time, the cycle can be shortened so much that it is repeated every week. Gradually, the phase of honeymoons completely disappears and the cycle consists only of phases of tension building, explosion, and denial.
POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL
Zdroj: Duluth model
Perpetrators also use control strategies which do not look like violence at first glance: abuse is followed by reassurance of love, "appeasing" through sexuality, an appeal to a woman's conscience and motherhood, suicide threats, occasional attention, flowers, etc.
Such behaviour by the abuser makes the victim unaware of the seriousness of the violence and therefore they cannot defend or otherwise prevent it.
Creating fear is also a form of violence against women. Fear of further violence is often the strongest tool of oppression.
Then the perpetrator does not even have to use physical violence: the very fear of violence is intimidating. In addition, he often tries to control his partner by constant phone calls, calls in the middle of the night, letters of threat, spying, stalking and harassment at work and at home, as well as verbal threats.
VIOLENCE IN INTIMATE RELATIONS
The term intimate or partner violence refers to all forms of physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence between current or former partners or spouses. It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrator has or has had a common household with the victim.
THE MOST COMMON FORMS OF VIOLENCE THAT HAPPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY:
ARGUMENT ≠ VIOLENCE
There is a significant difference between an argument and violence.
An argument is about a dispute of two equal partners who have a different opinion or interest which they try to push forward. An argument may end in more ways:
It is important, however, that while each party may use different means to enforce its views, they have equal opportunities to do so.
On the other hand, violence is based on inequality of power. The perpetrator’s motivation is based on them trying to control or oppress through humiliation, intimidation, physical and/or psychological abuse.
Violence often takes place without witnesses, behind closed doors. Perpetrators often have two faces: they look like friendly and nice people in public. But they are very different people at home.
If a woman confides that she is experiencing violence, it means that she cannot cope with it herself and needs immediate support and help. The base line is to trust her, not to alleviate the situation, not to question it and not to justify violence from her partner.
It must be made clear to her that the perpetrator is solely responsible for the violence. There is no reason, circumstance, or excuse for a partner to behave violently towards a woman.
WHEN A WOMAN CANNOT SPEAK, WE NEED TO LISTEN
Women who experience violence try to do everything possible to change the situation. They want the violence to end, but at the same time they often want to maintain a relationship or marriage. Only when all their attempts fail do they seek help outside the family circle.
Some men control their partner so much that they are terrified to talk to someone about what they are experiencing. In addition, not all women can seek refuge with their relatives or acquaintances. And even if they can, they are often too afraid to do it, because they are not safe there either.
The longer a women is exposed to different strategies of violence, the harder it is for her to break free. The perpetrator is gaining more and more dominance in this situation. Attempts to escape or resist often mean that the abuser will intensify his violent behaviour.
Living in such a relationship is very exhausting for women. They weaken their sense of self-worth and have less and less energy to defend themselves. They can fall ill under the influence of long-term physical and mental stress.
Such violence also has other negative consequences. The result is, for example, a loss of work, isolation from society, or the loss of a roof over your head.
The national anonymous helpline for women experiencing violence
is here for you 24/7
NO WOMAN WANTS A MAN WHO BEATS HER.
No woman chooses a violent partner purposefully since, of course, she does not want them to beat, rape, or even murder her. At the beginning of the relationship, however, the perpetrators usually do not behave violently at first. Violent behaviour usually begins after a certain period of cohabitation. Hidden forms of violence are often associated with positively understood traditional gender roles, so it is difficult to realize when the abuse of power, control, and oppression really begins.
The "knightly protector" inadvertently becomes the controlling man, the mad love turns into a mad jealousy, the assurance "I'm crazy about you" changes to the statement "I have a right to you and your body."
Such violent acts are often seen as impulsive behaviour. The perpetrator simply “flares up” from time to time, saying how he cannot control his feelings. It should be noted, however, that the perpetrator chooses their victim based on a feeling of superiority. No violent man, not even in the middle of his tantrum, ever hits his boss. But he has no problem to hit his wife.
ALCOHOL IS NOT THE CAUSE OF VIOLENCE.
Alcohol only acts as stimulant. It breaks down barriers and therefore aggressive impulses are amplified. Half of women experiencing violence state alcohol as the most common trigger for violence. However, this does not mean that the abuser can blame his behaviour on alcohol. The state of intoxication is used by violent men as an argument so that they do not have to take responsibility for their actions.
A VIOLENT MAN IS NOT A GOOD FATHER.
Domestic violence hurts children for a lifetime.
In most cases, children are direct witnesses to father-to-mother violence. Or they are subconsciously confronted with the consequences of mother abuse. They see her physical injuries or mental problems - fear, depression, sadness, and depression. Children are considered victims of domestic violence even if they have not been directly subjected to physical abuse themselves.
If a partner commits violence against a woman, there is a high probability that the violence will be directed towards the children, too.
The presence during violence, even committed against an unknown person is a powerful traumatic experience for children. The closer the relationship to the victim, the stronger this trauma. Children then tend to be anxious and neurotic. They often have psychosomatic illnesses and learning and behavioural problems. A large percentage of them have similar problems in their own intimate relationships in adulthood.
DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES WHEN YOU SEE VIOLENCE