Dec 16, 2007

Cycle of violence

The above link brings an article that helps teach us how to help others that we suspect are being abused , this can be a coworker, a schoolmate, a neighbor, friend or an acquaintance.

If you're like a lot of people you're probably saying to yourself an acquaintance - a neighbor - is it really my place to interfere with the "troubles" of an acquaintance or a neighbor or even a casual friend.?
Simply put and emphatic yes. is the only answer here; seeing as how physical abuse is against the law whether against a child or an adult- it is all of our responsibility morally and legally.

While you might agree with the idea of mandatory reporting of a child being abused you might feel that its another story altogether when it is someones wife or girlfriend especially if the abuse has been ongoing and the abused person clearly hasn't left her abuser . Is it our place to interfere there when clearly this person doesn't want to leave?

Once you read the linked article you will better understand why victims of abuse do not "simply "leave" after the first episode of violence. or often even the second or third. There is a complex cycle that involves the emotional and psychological "breaking down" of the battered person, all part and parcel of why so many women do not flee their abusive partners early on.

A good idea is to give yourself a short course on the" battered woman syndrome" a term coined by Lenore Walker, a pioneer on the machinations of an abusive relationship; Ms Walker has interviewed, counseled studied and queried thousands of battered woman and abusive men, and in doing so has made landmark observations and discoveries about the nature of abusive relationships. She has written a multitude of essays, research papers and books, compiling all of the information that she has gathered and most of her books are very readable for the layperson. I recommend that every woman and teenage girl read about the cycle of violence
By Pulling back the curtain on the syndrome that many battered woman become caught up in, and the nearly absolute predictability of the MO the batterer, walker has changed the entire way that partner violence is understood and to a lesser extent, handled within our criminal justice system.

I once read a very apt quote by Voltaire that said "Evil exists, when good men do nothing." As dramatic as it sounds, this is really saying that apathy and complacency regarding other peoples suffering is as bad as causing the suffering. You ALONE can effect a change by educating yourself about the nature of abuse and making the following pledge;

'If I suspect that someone I know is being abused or is in danger of being abused, I will not ignore the situation due to reluctance or fear of getting "involved". I will report the abuse or the potential for abuse to the appropriate authorities and will thus avail myself of my local agencies/authorities and educate myself and my (age appropriate) loved ones about the best methods for safe intervention on behalf of an abused or endangered person.

If you are ready to go a farther with your awareness and involvement regarding abuse, you can also take a personal oath to:

- Always offer non judgemental and compassionate ear to anyone you suspect or know is being abused - Do not ever assume that because the abused person doesnt leave or in the case of dating violence, continues to be involved with her abuser, that she must " be okay with the abuse" or assume that the abuse cant be that bad"   This assumption by friends family coworkers and even neighbors has helped ensure that many an abused person continues to be abused, often leading to severe permanent injury and or death.

- When a woman is in the midst of a battered syndrome, on any level, we must understand that there has  been a type of brainwashing that has occurred and as such this victim is not going to make sound judgements like a healthy person who has been physically assaulted or threatened.  She often cannot be reasoned with and in many instances, will recant testimony she's given to police, the courts or even confidences she shared with a family member or friend.

It is a  prototypical scenario to have an abused friend confide to you that she has had her life threatened by a mate or someone she's involved with, or even admitted directly about incident of violence, only later to tell that same friend who is now poised to contact authorities etc., ' oh no I was exaggerating or he was drunk or were in counseling now its better, or he cried and was so sorry...Or the abused person might simply cut off the friendship or contact if it is a family member, regretting that she shared what was happening, sometimes out of fear of reprisal from the abuser.

 We Must Learn what to do in these situations - the key to saving lives is taking action
at the earliest possible juncture, and this means when a women who has been threatened, stalked or actually  assaulted in any way- including a push a shove- anything and has shared it with you, or you are privy to it or even strongly suspect it!

If it is not possible or safe for you to speak directly with the abused person, you should then confirm that they are under the guidance and protection of a social service/ advocate and/or law enforcement professional who can ascertain how they can ensure the persons fiture safety

While it is no secret that most of our courts clearly need a complete overhaul regarding how they view and deal with predators and those that commit violent crimes, we as a people, on an individual and community level can help this happen by beginning to re-think the entire issue of abuse/violent crime. Start with educating ourselves on matters surrounding individuals that would predate upon us and our loved ones, particularly our most vulnerable women and children.

Violent criminals and predators are out there and they are not going away. Too often, our complacency and unwillingness to think about "unpleasant things" serve as a predator's accomplice.

From serial rapists and murderers, to terrorists of the domestic variety, more often than we realize, these dangerous people live among us. They are not the boogeymen of our childhood nightmares, in fact they often look like us, innocuous and unassuming in appearance, which aids and abets their predatory habits
(ie they are more likely to be trusted. )

A classic example of this is the dateline' television series"To catch a Predator" : Most of  those would- be pedophiles caught on tape traveling long distances to meet with children whom they've set up meets with, hoping to seduce them via the internet, are consistently average looking men, usually middle Class to upper middle class people. And as surprising, many were married with children of their own, even the men who were setting up liaisons with underage boys. This show only proves what we have suspected for quite some time; predators are often slick, manipulative and deceptive-all traits that are hallmarks of the sociopath persona, -the worst and most dangerous of the personality disorders, and a common finding in both serial murderer and rapists, as well as Batterers, along with narcissitic personality disorders.

In order to reduce violent crime we first must become aware of what defines violent crime; This will require some self education about all violent crime, including partner and intimate violence, child abuse and other crimes against children, sex crimes, and what is at the core of so many of these--power and control

Lastly, we need to learn the classic Predators Mode of Operating yes there is a "classic predator" He shares a good deal of traits with the common batterer and once you understand what makes them tick, you are at a distinct advantage for recognizing them and avoiding their clutches.
From all of this we will build a zero tolerance for violence within our communities, which will eventually force the hand of our judicial systems. Violent crime is the most serious crime that exists, despite what our current sentencing practices would seem to dictate -Not robbing a bank, not prostitution, nor using or dealing drugs. Violent crime leaves those "lucky" enough to survive fraught with a lifetime of trauma, pain and often shame. Once we truly honor what the victim of violence experiences, it is a natural progression to demand justice for them, this is the very least we can do. Within this kind of shift in our thinking we will begin to re-shape our society's mores and soon enough we will see a decline in violent crime in this country.

As the message becomes that all violence, no matter the relationship between assailant and victim, strangers or spouses will result in a dogged prosecution , conviction and prison sentence, violent crime will become more and more a rarity and the entire landscape of this country will change.

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