Buzz Word Series: Are You Stuck in a Pattern of Abuse?

Rebekkah J. Mouw, JD
Patterns of Abuse Violence

Abuse comes in many different forms and looks different in every situation. Once you understand the different types of abuse (check out part 1 of the Buzz Word Series), it is time to determine what pattern of abuse Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful has you in. More importantly, we are looking at categories that your attorney should be familiar with if there is any hope of you having the representation you truly need (if neither your evaluator nor your attorney is familiar with patterns of relationship abuse and it is a factor in your case—RUN). Knowing the types of violence patterns gives you a feeling of control and allows you to make a step in the healthier direction. It also gives you an edge in the courtroom.

Patterns of Violence in Relationships

  • Situation-Instigated Violence: In the first category, situation-instigated violence represents a couple that has had no history of any type of violence, but violence occurs at the time of separation. This category also means there has not been a history of using intimidation, coercion, or any type of controlling behavior. People’s reaction to change and stress is not always healthy for you, for them, or for your children. There are tools your attorney can discuss with you to guide you through these situations both in the courtroom and out of it.
  • Situational Couple Violence: Also called “common couple violence,” is when violence occurs in response to disagreements in specific situations and often (but not always) the nature of the violence is less severe than in coercive-controlling violence. In situational couple violence, neither partner is actually fearful of the other. Partners who engage in situational couple violence both admit their ways of dealing with conflict are inappropriate and the violence usually does not increase over time.Statistically, the violence is initiated by both partners, although women incur higher rates of injury.
  • Coercive-Controlling Violence: Coercive-controlling violence is the most extreme of the three categories and the most long-term. The aggressor habitually will exhibit the use of force to persuade the partner to do something through physical means, intimidation, abuse of power, control, and emotional abuse. Victims of this type of violence often live in constant fear and perpetrators are prone to victim-blaming and minimizing, justifying, and/or denying their actions. Coercive-controlling violence does include the use of abusive tactics that are not physically violent but are consistently controlling and manipulative. The aggressor’s need to control and manipulate may be a sign of jealousy, emotional dependency, or a myriad of underlying personality disorders. Statistically, this category has predominately male aggressors.

Remember, abuse at its simplest definition boils down to two things: control and manipulation. You may read the categories above and think you fall into one, and then later start to see or remember patterns that place you in another. Maybe what you’re experiencing does not appear to fall in there at all, maybe it started as one and has escalated in a pattern not defined explicitly above. That is okay. What is not okay is the continued cycle of abuse without appropriate legal recourse.

Whether you are in a pattern of abuse or wrongly accused of it, the time to start feeling like you’re in control of yourself and your family’s well-being is now. Let’s Chat. Call 605-777-1772. We are here to be by your side as you take control of your situation.

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