I just came across a great article on domestic violence via my APA (American Psychology Association) affiliation. Since October is not quite done and it is Domestic Violence Awareness month I figured I share a few bits of the article and the link so you can read the entire posting. The post is on the site PSYCHALIVE and is titled “Why Domestic Violence Occurs and How to Stop It“. The author Dr. Lisa Firestone, PhD, is the Director of Research and Education for The Glendon Association.
The reason I believe understanding more about domestic violence is important in education is that when it occurs the effect on a student are startling and will influence the child for life. How this influence can become either negative or positive is something that we as teachers, tutors educators and parents can impact. With family and social violence on the rise due to the difficult economic times it is also useful to increase understanding so we do not get into an ever spiraling increase in domestic violence, bullying, molestation and child abuse in the future. Typically breaking the reoccurrence and sometimes generation cycle of abuse of these types of crimes is difficult. However, this article by Dr. Firestone helps highlight two emotional dynamics that her research and work show contribute domestic violence. The first factor involves a destructive thought process (or “critical inner voice“) that abusers experience both toward themselves and their partners, thoughts like “You’re not a man if you don’t control her,” or “She is making a fool out of you.” The second factor involves a harmful illusion of connection between a couple, that she refers to as a “fantasy bond.” “This dynamic feeds into a sense that another person can make you whole and is responsible for your happiness.”
Dr Firestone goes on to highlight how individuals are getting help and breaking the cycle. She cites work at San Francisco’s Manalive program that has been successful in teaching male prisoners and domestic violence offenders how to make more reasonable decisions in terms of their behavior. As stated in the article:
The program directly challenges the destructive thoughts and critical inner voices that feed aggressive behaviors. This approach involves a person taking 100 percent responsibility for his or her actions. It means identifying the moments when they are triggered and realizing that no matter how provoked or infuriated they might feel toward their partner, these emotions will not kill them. The program teaches them about the division in themselves between a real self and an “anti-self” (incorporated from their own early experiences of violence). They learn that at those moments of stress when they get triggered, they have a choice — they can either stay with the open, vulnerable side of themselves or act out the defended “hit man identity” they’ve incorporated by identifying with the person or persons who abused them as children.
Help for victims of these crimes are touched upon and focus on breaking the fantasy bond to allow for more healthy and psychologically sound relationships. The article does not go into much on the effect of domestic violence on children but for that organizational sites such as the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The UK based ‘The Hideout‘ and US Dept. of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families are of great value. As the US Dept. of Health and Human Services states ‘Domestic violence is a devastating social problem that impacts every segment of the population.’