Domestic Violence Threats
Domestic violence threats are threats made within the context of an abusive relationship and domestic abuse.
Where the threats are made within the context of a physically violent relationship, they can be as as debilitating as the violence itself.
Even where the victim has not been physically assaulted, the abuser will often demonstrate their ability to harm by punching walls or furniture, kicking the cat/dog, or using aggressive behaviour.
"He went on a rampage with a hammer; smashed holes in the fridge freezer then proceeded to smash holes in the wall around my head, laughing as he did so chanting “Eenie, meenie, miny, mo”. (Allison's Story)
We were in the kitchen, arguing, and I said something he did not like. He brought his fists down so hard on the dishwasher that it literally jumped. I was sat next to it. The message was clear, that could be me next. (Anon)
Threats of physical violence are particularly effective where they are occasionally followed up with or reinforced by actual physical abuse. A victim who has already suffered being battered need not imagine the result of displeasing the abuser, or doubt the abuser's ability to carry out the domestic violence threats. Carla remembers well the way in which her step-father would control her mother:
"At the same time, his control over my mother was increasing. He used threats and intimidation, or when he felt he needed stronger measures, he would grab her tightly by the upper arms or slap her." (Carla's Story)
However, many threats are not physical but part of the ongoing emotional abuse. The abuser may threaten to 'disappear' with the children, report you to Social Services as an unfit parent or 'have you locked up in an asylum", harm a significant third party (e.g. family member), refuse housekeeping, leave or commit suicide. Sometime the threat of harm to the children is implied rather than specifically spelled out. The effect is the same.
"He has threatened to take my son and go to the US with him." (Anon)
"The children were on holiday with him at the sea in Cornwall, and he phoned me to tell me they were having a nice time, but at the same time he kept calling out to the kids not to climb too high on the cliffs and not to swim too far into the sea. The were only little, they should not have been put in that danger. I was left, hundred of miles away, worried about their safety" (Anon)
The threat to disappear with the children, kidnap them or allow some harm to come to them, is enough to keep mothers in an abusive relationship and tolerate the most horrific abuse themselves purely to protect the children.
The emotional domestic violence threats are also very disturbing and upsetting for the victim of abuse, as they never know how far the abuser will actually put these threats into action, and the reality of the situation is that the victim - despite the abuse they have suffered - usually still cares for the perpetrator of that abuse. For a victim who has already had to witness her partner self-harming, the threat of his further harming himself is a very great concern.
He started to self-harm in front of me which was heartbreaking and so hard to watch someone I did love do that to themselves. (Ingrid's Story)
Whether the threats are of a physical, sexual or emotional nature, they are all designed to further control the victim by instilling fear and ensuring compliance. This fear need not necessarily be for the victim's own safety but could equally be for the safety of other women.
He said that if I did not allow him to effectively rape me, then he was more likely to get frustrated and go out and rape other women. I did not want anyone else to go through the horrific experience of rape. (Anon)
The abuser becomes not only the source of pain and abuse, but also the protector, as he/she is not only the person being abusive, but also the person who can prevent the threatened action, increasing the victim's dependence.
Next: Sexual Abuse
In This Section:
Lundy Bancroft has written what is probably the most comprehensive and readable book on domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and the dynamics of abuse. This truly is a MUST READ for anyone seriously trying to understand domestic abuse and how to cope with an abusive relationship:
To order in the US: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
To order in the UK: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven is the book to accompany the Freedom Programme in the UK. This book should be compulsory in schools - the information is so clear and so obvious and such an eye-opener! After studying domestic violence issues for years, this is the one book which finally enabled me to click it all into place and answer all my whys. Just read it:
To order in the US: Living With the Dominator (Kindle version only - and well worth buying a Kindle just to get this book!)
To order in the UK: Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme: 1
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