Dynamics of violence

Domestic violence creates a dynamic in the relationship that can make it difficult to free oneself from it. Those affected who live in a violent relationship know the back and forth between threats, acts of violence and their own fear.

Tensions and outbreaks of violence change relationships and the way people interact with each other. Those affected try to influence this dynamic. They develop strategies to protect themselves and prevent further outbreaks of violence.

They adapt their behaviour to avoid outbursts, sacrificing their own needs and suppressing their true feelings. Love and hope for change but also shame and feelings of guilt, the health consequences of violence or the fear of an escalation of violence keep many of those affected in the relationship and make it difficult to seek help.

Breaking up takes courage and an idea of how to proceed. Don't hesitate to talk to someone about your situation and seek help. You are not alone.

The violent person's mood dictates the atmosphere

The violent individual's volatile emotions and outbursts dictate the relationship's atmosphere. The victim, attuned to the perpetrator's mood, adapts their behaviour to prevent violent episodes. These adjustments may occur consciously or unconsciously. Fear alters the dynamic, rendering the relationship neither direct nor equitable.

The person experiencing violence becomes cautious about expressing their opinions and needs, often seeking to please the perpetrator. In an environment dominated by the violent individual, there is no space for the victim or other family members to express their genuine feelings openly.

From love to isolation

The more isolated the person concerned is, the lower the chance that the violence will become known and the easier it is to control.

For instance, the perpetrator may become irritated by the victim's friends or hobbies, gradually leading the victim to abandon them, rationalising it with other reasons.

Clinging on to the non-violent periods

Relationships are built on dreams and optimism for the future. Despite the presence of violence, the person experiencing it may still love their partner and cherish moments when violence is absent, making it difficult for them to envision an alternative life.

The victim also believes in the possibility of change, which is reinforced during non-violent periods that may temporarily shift the power dynamic within the relationship.

Shame and guilt prevent from revealing the secret

Moreover, the individual experiencing or having experienced violence often feels invested in the relationship and is reluctant to give it up. Fear of how the situation would be perceived externally after the secret of violence is revealed adds to their apprehension.

Shame and guilt are deeply associated with violence. It is common for people who use violence to blame those affected for the violent outbursts ("You provoked me") and justify their own actions. This often leads to those affected feeling ashamed and guilty about their own abuse. They think they have done something wrong and are, therefore, being mistreated.

Shame and feelings of guilt often make it difficult to tell someone about the violence they have suffered - also out of fear that they will not be believed, for example, because the person perpetrating the violence enjoys a high reputation.

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