A prolonged period of intimate-partner violence leads to ‘desensitization’ to abuse in the victims. It does not mean the victim quits responding to the trigger (violence) but instead adapts to it.
Battered women syndrome is one such widely recognized disorder in which the women subjected to domestic violence for an extended period of time enter a state of “learned helplessness” termed as psychological paralysis.
It is closely associated with the post-traumatic stress disorder and involves denial to acknowledge the abuse or violence and mistaking the abuser as a well-wisher.
Victims or battered women falsely assume that there’s nothing that they can do to break the cycle of violence and hence learn to cope with it by concocting a bubble of denial around them.
A woman who’s gone through two cycles of violence/abuse is termed as a battered woman. A cycle of abuse as defined by, LENORE WALKER EdD, founder of the Domestic Violence Institute, involves three phases:
- In the first phase, tension builds between the batterer and the woman.
- The second phase is an explosion or encounter when the woman is the victim of battering and could be seriously injured.
- The third is when her abuser appears calm and loving, pleads for forgiveness, and promises to seek help. This is called the “honeymoon phase.”
Walker describes the intensity and repetitive nature of the cycle saying,
I draw it as a graph because it repeats itself and keeps getting worse and worse.
- First, the abuser attempts to contrive situations that elicit tension in the relationship.
- And then explodes, indulges in violent behavior (emotional, physical) against the victim.
- Third, he manipulates the victim into believing that violence was through no fault of his own but what the victim deserved.
The abuser uses tactics of “grooming”‘ that comprises of gradually integrating violent behavior into regular behavior to ease the adaptation for victim and “desensitization” to get the victim used to the abuse.
It is so crippling that the victim begins to feel intimidated in the absence of a threat and develops an irrational fear, all of which feels very real to the victim.
However, they are ways to identify the abuse and break out of the cycle:
- Seeking professional help: Talk with your doctor, counselor about the abuse. And seek support.
- Have a safety plan: Involve local LeA’s and a social worker to help you guide through the problem. Punjab government, Pakistan, has recently devised PUNJAB PROTECTION OF WOMEN AGAINST VIOLENCE ACT which ensures the safety of women against domestic violence in particular. The ACT criminalizes domestic abuse ad penalizes anyone who attempts to hurt, harm or intimidate the victim and provides adequate security and support to the victim.
- Understand; Your safety and life are of utmost importance and anyone who intimidates these, be it your husband or an intimate partner, is an offender.
- Speak out; Know that unless you speak out against violence and reach out, you can’t be helped.
White Ribbon Pakistan is a campaign that initiates a meaningful objective of actively involving men to end the violation of women rights. Justice can be provided by those who do injustice because they have the power to do both, serves as the base of the White Ribbon campaign. It believes in Jinnah’s ideology to elevate the status of women according to Islamic ideals and standards.
From educating the masses on violence and its forms to providing support and initiating multiple projects to end domestic violence, White Ribbon Pakistan is actively involved in curbing the violence against women in our country.
The Checklist of Violence Against Women
- Has he ever trapped you in a room and not let you out?
- Has he ever raised a fist as if he were going to hit you?
- Has he ever thrown an object that hit you or nearly did?
- Has he ever held you down or grabbed you to restrain you?
- Has he ever shoved, poked, or grabbed you?
- Has he ever threatened to hurt you?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can stop wondering whether he’ll ever be violent; he already has been!