10:34 08 April 2005
What to do if you're in one, and how to get out of it.
Sadly, quite a large number of questions you send me concern violence in relationships. These are usually from women (and men) suffering violence from a partner or ex-partner, those worried about a friend who is suffering violence and from people whose partners are being or have been attacked by an ex.
So if you are in a violent relationship or a friend is, what can you do?
My partner is violent to me
If this is your situation, you may well be feeling terrified and desperate. If you believe that you still love your partner, you may not want the relationship to end - just the violence. Unfortunately, unless your partner either has a complete personality change or is willing to make the hard therapeutic journey to curb their violent behaviour, it is extremely unlikely that you will ever achieve your wish.
In fact, research shows that the opposite tends to happen. People who are violent to their partners tend to become increasingly violent as the relationship continues. Slaps turn to punches, punches turn to beatings requiring hospital treatment and in extreme cases severe beatings can lead to murder.
I still love my partner
If you think you still love your partner, try listing the things about them that are loveable. Don't try and 'screen out' the violence, thinking that when they're not violent, they have many good qualities. The violence is part of their general behaviour and stems from the root belief that you should do what they say/want/think. This is the characteristic of a selfish bully who has not grown up emotionally. Think of their behaviour as adult tantrums when they don't get what they want.
In addition, perpetrators of violence often convince their victims that the violence is the victim's fault. In reality the perpetrator is ALWAYS responsible for their own behaviour. Alcohol and drugs are no excuse - the perpetrator has chosen to use alcohol or drugs. Is this the kind of person you want to be with?
I'm too terrified to leave
If you have got to the stage where you no longer believe (or don't know) if you love your partner but are terrified of leaving because of threats of increased violence, please know that you are not alone. Typically, bullies (because that's what people who beat their partners are) use fear to control their victims. People suffering violence can start to believe that they are the only person experiencing this horrible situation and that no-one can help them. This is not the case.
My friend/partner/relative is suffering violence
If this is the case, the more you badger them to leave their partner, the more they are likely to take their partner's side. Instead, give them support and time to talk and reassurance that you care. Offer to receive information on their behalf from the above sources and share it with them.
If your partner is suffering at the hands of an ex, getting the police involved is probably advisable, while supporting your partner. You may also wish to consider getting support for yourself from a close friend or relative or a professional therapist/counsellor. Contact the UKCP on 020 7436 3002 or the BACP on 01788 578328 for local private counsellors/therapists or ask your GP to refer you to an NHS service.
There are numerous organisations that can support you as you try to improve your situation. If you have a close friend or relative that you can confide in about your situation, try to get them to receive information on your behalf. This way, your partner won't find out and use it as an excuse for further violence.
Agencies that can help include your local council, which can put you in touch with women]s refuges where you will be safe from your violent partner, and the police who can arrest them. You can take out injunctions also to stop people coming within a certain distance of you and dial 999 if they do.
More information, advice and support is available from the following:
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