In an abusive relationship your Personal Safety is at risk. Safety
Planning is a must. The abuser's JEKYLL and HIDE personality is
unpredictable at first, however the longer you stay, the more predictable
it may become.
It is important to try and see a pattern, what
triggers the abuser to act in a particular way. In essence this
form of personal flexibility (you are adapting to his outburst's)
becomes a subtle form of control (you are changing your behaviour
because of his abusive behaviour). Please don't become stubborn,
remember planning your safety allows you to have an element of flexibility
and control. You are managing an abusive situation and successfully
stopping more physical abuse.
It's easier to try and control the physical signs
of abuse, but the abuser is making you feel hurt and upset inside.
The emotional damage is unseen. The articles on Recovering from
Abuse - Shifting
Perspective and Using
Meditation to Heal Emotions, can hopefully help you to deal
with the emotional tourmoil encountered in abusive relationships.
What Happens To Us When
We Are Confronted With Violence?
When we are confronted with the threat of violence
we can become scared or angry. You will notice many swirling feelings
within your body. You may feel extremely nervous with butterflies
in your stomach. Some people feel sick and paralysed with fear.
All these feelings are perfectly normal. This is an aspect of fear
called the fight or flight response. Evolution has prepared you
for the threat of violence. Your prehistoric brain has developed
a natural response to the threat of violence. Thousands of years
ago our ancestors relied on this response daily. Our ancestors had
to avoid predators and fight with warring tribes. Your body is preparing
to run or fight.
Unfortunately the threat of violence is still with
us today, however, it is small when we compare it to what our ancestors
had to go through. Our brain transmits messages to the adrenal glands.
These special glands release adrenaline. The hormone adrenaline
is a special transmitter and travels around the body in an instant.
It makes your heart beat quicker, your breathing rate increases,
you become stronger and your tolerance to pain increases. Your reactions
become faster and you can run and jump further. You are ready for
Sometimes when our bully torments us this natural
reaction can have the reverse effect. You may become more agitated
and stressed. Sometimes this can make the situation worse. If you
feel yourself getting uptight and nervous take some deep breaths
and say to yourself, "It is normal to feel like this."
You will remain calmer.
Fear is only natural, as such try and control your
anger and remain receptive to the events unfolding in front of you.
What Is Happening To The Bully
Prior To Becoming Violent?
The bully at this point is going through a period
of intense anger. The bully loses all mental control. His mind is
making the situation worse. He is repeating and re-living all the
anger in his mind. The bully is like a hamster in a wheel - he is
going around and around, but not getting anywhere. However, if you
remain calm in a confrontational situation you are in control. Being
able to think is the key to diffusing conflict and avoiding violence.
How do I recognise the stages
Keep your head up and look around you. Every now
and again look behind you. Gather information, and use your eyes
The bully will hold his stare across the room, and
is looking for you to catch his gaze. This stage of awareness is
an opportunity for you to avoid confrontation. Do not make it obvious
but keep a watch over the bully.
If you have been indecisive and have not avoided
the bully, you are ready for the next stage of confrontation. Your
bully is going to project his feelings of inadequacy onto you and
make you the problem. He will say, "HAVE YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH
ME?" What he is really saying is, "I am insecure, and I have
a problem with you." Be aware that at this stage he has already
planned to attack you. He may attack you verbally or physically
depending on the circumstances.
The Body Language
His body language will change as the situation escalates.
Even at the first stage look for the vital signs of body language
that demonstrates violence. Communication is mostly through body
He will get closer to you. His chest will be inflated
like a balloon, and his arms will puff outwards like a bird. He
will stand tall and appear robotic. When he talks he will use his
hands and point in a stabbing motion. His face will redden and his
eyes will bulge, and his teeth may show. His jaw will tighten and
he will appear bigger. He will constantly look around. He may stamp
Here it becomes increasingly tense. The bully will
mutter words like, "Yeah, yeah, so, so." At this stage it
will be almost impossible to communicate with them. What the bully
is doing is target picking. He's looking at your body and deciding
when and where he is going to attack you. The provocation can last
some time depending on the bully. A violent bully will build up
to this stage in a matter of split seconds. He will also swear at
The distance between you and the bully will shorten
and he may look for a sign of attacking opportunity, this will depend
your own body language.
The majority of attackers are right-handed and right-footed. Do
you know if your bully is right or left handed? In most cases your
bully is going to throw a right hand hooking punch to the head.
This isn't always the case as some like to grab and pull your hair.
What Can I Do About It?
You cannot change a bully, only a bully can do that.
You have to adapt to the bully's behaviour and make quick decisions.
Keep your head up and look around you, and every
now and again look behind you. Gather information, and use your
eyes and ears. Anticipate problems before they arise. Think Safety
PLAN. Think VULNERABILITY.
It is absolutely normal to avoid confrontation and
aggression. If you don't want to fight or argue, then avoid the
bully and leave the area. There are many factors to consider at
this stage. Is he bigger and more aggressive than you? Has he been
drinking alcohol? Does he have a history of violence? If your sixth
sense starts to answer, "yes", to these questions. Prepare
yourself. Do you have a panic alarm handy? Where is your defence
spray? Where are you going to run?
Consider The Cheap Shot
The abuser may try and entice you into what is called
the cheap shot. What they will do is ask a stupid question and then
attack you. (This is a technique that distracts and confuses you).
Bully : What's the time?
Abused : Looks at her watch and is distracted
Bully: Attacks, and slaps you across the face.
Bully : Let me stroke your hair, I am sorry
I did those things.
Abused : Guard is dropped,
Bully: Attacks and pulls her hair.
Bully : You look really sexy when you stand
Abused : Stands in a vulnerable position
Bully: Attacks easily.
If your bully comes close, then step away, keep your
hands up, and turn your palms outwards. Stand at a 45 degree angle,
tuck your chin in and talk at a distance. Move side to side when
talking to them. Say to them firmly "NO, I don't WANT TROUBLE.
I don't WANT TO FIGHT." don't turn your back on them and keep
to the wall. Appear to give into them. Remember that by complying
with their rules you are giving them a sense of control. You are
also playing for time and preparing to respond.
The Body Language
Appear non-confrontational and keep your hands and
palms facing outwards. This is a ploy as it tells the bully you
are not willing to fight and gives them a sense of power. Tell them
what they want to hear and keep on saying it even if it is, "I
am sorry, I am sorry." Give them power.
Many women, who have been beaten by their partners,
say sometimes it is best to say very little. By saying very little
you do not add to the problem (in his mind). Every case is different
and you will be the best person to decide.
Do not argue and try to remain calm. Keep well away
from them. They are dangerous but you have options: you can run
away, you can activate your panic alarm, spray them with defence
spray, or you can attack.
If you are getting attacked keep moving away from
them. Cover your face and try and protect yourself. Do not let them
get too close. Keep on shouting, "HELP, HELP, STOP, STOP."
Now that I have given
an explanation of the stages of a violent confrontation, consider
the following safety planning advice.
- don't drink alcohol together - The probability
of a violent attack increases. If he insists, try and pour some
lemonade into your drink. Alcohol reduces your ability to run,
fight and escape.
- You cannot reason with a drunk person, don't
try and tell him what to do, if he is starting to pick on you,
make the decision for him and get out of his way. I have spent
hundreds of hours pleading with drunk people, it doesn't work.
- Keep him fed and watered. Why on earth would
someone tell me do this? Simply, physiological stress has a
major impact on the brain. If someone has the abusing personality
and he is hungry and drunk, the probability of violence increases
ten fold. If he is drinking alcohol, make sure he eats something
too. It will stop him from getting really drunk. It may help
- Plan your safety around sporting events. If
he is a football fan, consider when his team are playing. When
the abuser's team wins, the probability of violence, believe
it or not increases. If he is going drinking all day with the
lads plan to stay with a family member or close friend. In Wales
on match day (six nations rugby), incidents of Domestic Violence
increase by 35%!
- Pack a getaway suitcase and include all the
family essentials: money, passports, birth certificates, cheque
book, bank cards, identification, keys for your house, keys
for work, legal documents, prescription drugs, clothing, benefit
books and your driving licence. In extreme cases get copies
of these important documents.
- Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency.
- don't stay and face the violence. Seek help
from a friend or neighbour, and get the children out of the
- Consider purchasing a How
Sar Quick Lock
(available from Amazon in the UK). This handy
lock will give you time to get away. The portable lock allows
you to lock a door in a short amount of time. Employ a diversionary
tactic first "I am putting some make up on" or
"I am getting you a beer from the fridge". Lock the
escape door and get out of the house.
- Keep your mobile on you at all times and make
sure it has sufficient credit. You can get a prefix security
number for your phone. For example if you press and hold 3,
then your mobile will ring 999 or a security company. Another
good idea, is to silently ring 999, keep the phone off the receiver
and if he gets near to you start shouting. Police forces in
the UK will respond immediately to such incidents.
- Add in your mobile phone a list of useful
telephone numbers e.g. solicitor, doctor, crisis centre, etc.
Put these contacts under your friends' names.
- There are also imitation keep-safes on the
market, that will allow you to stash money etc. For example
Solon Security make an imitation candle holder that doubles
as a safety box.
- Find the details of your nearest sheltered
accommodation or crisis centre.
- If he is becoming aggressive then stay away
from the kitchen and garage. There are many implements that
could be used as weapons and cause serious injury. I remember
a case when a man threw a hot scolding kettle at his partner.
- It sounds silly but put things away, e.g. children's toys,
they may prevent you from escaping and they can also be used
- Ornaments can also be dangerous e.g. It's amazing how many
people own samurai swords etc.
- Animals can seriously add to a violent household, for example
pit bull dogs get very agitated in violent encounters. They
pose a very real risk to all your family.
- don't go upstairs because many women are thrown down them.
Avoid places where you could be trapped as he may lock you inside.
- You're vulnerable when you are combing your hair, using hair
straighteners or cleaning with acid based products.
The Law And The Use Of Reasonable
The law in the UK allows you to defend yourself with reasonable
force, which is force that is proportional to the threat that you
are faced with. This is a subjective idea that depends on the individual
circumstances. In basic terms if you are faced with one attacker,
who is throwing punches at you, and you retaliate with a hard punch
and you put your attacker to the floor, and then you run away, you
are acting with reasonable force. If you stayed at the scene and
continued to attack, you could be acting outside the law. Remember
the law protects both of you and does not take sides.
Article kindly provided by Neville Evans of Bullied Publishing,
all writing is subject to copy write, however please feel free to
disseminate to any person in need.
Other Articles by Neville Evans on this site: