Every relationship has its difficulties and occasional conflicts. Most people feel frustrated, disappointed or angry with their partner at some point in a relationship.
A healthy level of disagreement in a relationship is one thing – violence and control are something else. If your partner feels too intimidated, threatened or afraid to have her say, the balance of power is unequal.
Many couples have problems, but when a partner uses violence and control, an equal discussion on any issue becomes impossible. Stopping the violence and control is the first step towards a happier and safer relationship.
Have you ever:
- Insulted and/or criticized your partner?
- Screamed or shouted at your partner to make her cooperate?
- Made your partner feel stupid after she expressed her thoughts or opinions?
- Tried to prevent your partner from doing something she wanted to do? (e.g. wear a certain dress, go out with friends, have a job or study)
- Not allowed your partner to spend money for her personal use?
- Slapped, hit, pushed your partner or threatened to do so?
- Thrown something (e.g. chair or a glass or dishes) in the presence of your partner or children?
- Accused your partner of paying too much attention to someone else?
- Did you pressure your partner or another woman to have sex when she didn't want to?
- Followed or observed your partner without her knowledge?
- Controlled your partner's online behaviour, e.g. reading her e-mails with or without her knowledge, checking the website she looked at?
- Checked on your partner's location without her knowing by locating her cellphone?
- Controlled the movements of your partner (constantly calling or sending messages continuously or at strange hours)?
- Mistreated your children, insulting them or physically hurting them?
- Scared your partner or your children?
- Threatened to kill yourself, your partner or somebody they love?
All couples have conflicts and disagree at times, but the actions described above are not signs of a healthy disagreement. They are acts of violence and control and you should consider seeking support to stop them.
If you have used one of these behaviours against your current or former partner or against your children or you are afraid that it might happen to you with your future partner, we strongly urge you to get in touch with a local programme.
Having a hard time understanding why your behaviour is an issue? Remember:
- Changing your violent behaviour will make you feel better about yourself and you will have a more positive outlook on life. By learning where your destructive actions come from, you will gain a better understanding of your person and your emotions.
- Changing your violent behaviour will considerably improve the relationship with your (ex-)partner. Research has shown that the quality of your relationship directly impacts your well-being. And while you might not be able to save the love and trust in your current relationship, your future relationships will benefit incredibly from the work you are doing to change.
- Changing your violent behaviour will make you a better parent. You might think that you are a good father right now, but even indirect violence harms children in a million invisible ways. Only by changing your behaviour, you can start building a healthy and respectful relationship with your child.
- Changing your violent behaviour will make your partner’s life better. Domestic violence has incredibly negative effects on a woman’s life. While every woman experiences violence differently, survivors have exhibited, among other things, PTSD, depression, low self-esteem, chronic pain and insomnia.
- Domestic violence is against the law. If you don’t change, there is a very real chance that you will experience legal consequences for your actions. A number of abusive men even end up killing their partners – is life in jail really worth it?
Most men start relationships because they care about their partners. They don't usually do it to hurt them. If you used violence or control in the past, it could be hard to face the consequences this has had on others.
There are many convenient excuses for violent behaviour:
- Do you feel your partner provokes you, so she is to blame? Ask yourself: why do you make the decision to react with violence to situations that can be solved in other ways?
- Blaming alcohol or drugs may make sense to you, but ask yourself: does everybody become violent when they drink? Why do you continue drinking if you know you will hurt your partner?
- You might think you simply lose control and are unable not to use violence. Ask yourself: Do you become violent in situations outside of your family? Do you lose control when you know it will have severe consequences for you?
- Are you just repeating violence you experienced growing up? Ask yourself: Why would you want to hurt your family the way you were hurt as a child? Can you be a better parent and partner?
Excuses, blaming your partner and minimizing the violence are like walls that prevent change. Taking responsibility means finding the strength and courage to honestly admit that you are harming those close to you – it's hard, but it's worth it. Admitting to using violence and control and taking responsibility for your past and future actions is a difficult but fundamental step for change.
You are ready to make a change and stop your violent behaviour? That is great news for you and your family.
Find your country and see if there are any programmes near you. If they are in your country, but not in your town, send them an e-mail or call to see if they know of services closer to home. They are used to being contacted about these things.
If we don’t have a member organisation in your country, send us an e-mail and we will ask around to find out if there is a programme suited to your needs in your country or area.
What does a perpetrator programme offer?
- Group or individual counselling on stopping violent behaviours
- A safe and non-judgemental pace to talk about your experiences and your history
- Support in learning non-violent communication
- A chance to make changes that will help improve your relationship with your family
- Space to learn about what makes you react violently
What doesn’t a perpetrator programme offer?
- Excuses for your violent behaviour
- Support in getting custody of your children
- A chance to pressure your partner into staying with you
- Support in escaping legal consequences for violent behaviour
- A way to change your partner
- Couple’s or family therapy