Domestic Violence, or DV as it’s more commonly known in Australia, is an out-dated term for long-term and persistent, sometimes coercive control by one male or female over their partner. The physical violence that is usually believed to be DV, is only one of many controlling and threatening acts that a partner may use. We think that it’s almost always men who use DV, however many women can also use emotional, psychological, financial and sometimes physical violence to control a male or female partner.
It is believed that fewer men will report DV than women for fear of ridicule or a sense of their loss of masculinity, therefore the number of male victims is, possibly, more under-reported than numbers of women.
The statistics regarding violence against women, often glibly ‘news reported’, are TRUE:
On average 1 female is killed by a former, or current, partner per week.
On average 1 male is killed by a former, or current, partner per month.
Over a million children are affected directly, or indirectly, by DV.
(Mission Australia stats 2018-2019).
But I want to talk about CCV – Controlling Coercive Violence. This consists of emotional abuse, sexual coercion, financial control, stalking and obsessive behaviours by one partner, or ex-partner, over another. Elder Abuse helplines report that CCV is most often used financially and/or emotionally over the elderly callers. I wonder if a further C might be added, for Creeping control. It can start quite slowly, even pleasantly……
We CAN, women and men, do something to stop CCV before it takes hold, for ourselves, for friends, and most importantly for our children.
Have you heard the phrase: “He/She is just perfect!”?
Is anybody, ever “Perfect”?
All of us have both Positive and Negative parts of our personality, we sometimes refer to the latter as ‘faults’ and we all have some. These may be learned behaviours or traits i.e. they may be born within our natural personalities.
All of us have Positive parts of our personality too, the Taoists refer to the Yin and Yang within all things on Earth: Dark and Light. Yin and Yang need to be evenly balanced but the Positive and Negative balance within humans isn’t always even. Some people have more than one or the other. But – not one of us is all Positive i.e. Perfect.
Those who use CCV do not present as anything except as ‘perfect’. At first.
Checklist for possible CCV perpetrators, compiled from victim reports:
- SPEED – the would-be partner moves things along into living together – in a hurry.
- GIFTS – too many promises of, or actual, gifts at start of relationship – only.
- PERSUASIVE LANGUAGE – if others have warned you that this is not a good relationship, he/she persuades you that they are wrong and that he/she is just right for you and your future together.
- TURNING YOU AWAY from friends and/or family, possibly persuading you both to move away, literally.
- LYING – if caught out in a lie there will be a ‘very good’ reason for it, e.g. I was organising a surprise for you.
- SUGGESTIONS OF MAKING CHANGES – e.g. “You look so much better without make-up; If you lose a little weight I’ll take you on that cruise (true report!); Stop worrying about money I’ll take care of all of that; I don’t want you going out with ‘the girls’ they’ve never liked me. Aren’t I enough for you?”
Be assured that one of these behaviours itself may not be cause for any alarm but if there have been several together – stop and think about them as being possible signs of CCV.
If you have moved in together: More Signs to think about:
- ISOLATING YOU from friends and family. May also include subtle criticisms of those close to you, gradually convincing you that these are real.
- CONTROLLING bank accounts/credit cards in his/her name only.
- SULKING – passive aggressive behaviour where there is a ‘silent’ demand that you apologise or make up for something you may not even be aware of.
- GASLIGHTING – this is when one person graphically describes the faults and disappointments, in the other, which bear no resemblance to reality.
- PARTNER has no close friends
- FOLLOWING YOU or demanding to know where you are going, who with, what time you’ll be home etc.
- APPEARANCE – criticising or commenting negatively on your clothes, hairstyle etc and possibly making suggestions of what you wear – what ‘suits you best’ –often in order to make you less attractive to others.
And later – you may recognise the cycle that you are caught in – First comes a blow up about something real or imagined by the other – angry, accusative language, self-pity that he or she has been a fool to love and live with you, bargain making that you ‘give’ the other something to prove your love – may be financial as can also happen often in elder abuse – or a promise not to see a relative or friend that the other dislikes. Once this crisis cools down, you go into the ‘honeymoon’ period where the perpetrator may apologise, not commonly, but makes up to you with a gift or a condescending compliment or two.
This is where CCV differs a little from physical violence where the perpetrator may cry, declare their deep love, and beg forgiveness with promises of this “never happening again”.
Both types of domestic abuse share the common factor:
It will ALWAYS happen again in exactly the same cycle of abuse.
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Support Services Australia – by phone and each service also has a website with email contact.
1800 RESPECT is Australia’s national sexual assault, family & domestic violence counselling line. They can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 737 732. To access their 24 hour online counselling service, visit the 1800 RESPECT website.
No to Violence (NTV) provides the Men’s Referral Service: an anonymous and confidential telephone service for men: 1300 766 491
Kids Helpline is a free, 24 hour counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years. Counselling is offered by phone, email and over the web: 1800 55 180
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services: 131114
Mensline is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns. The service is available from anywhere in Australia and is staffed by professional counsellors, experienced in men’s issues: 1300 78 99 78 – 24 hour line