Domestic violence usually blights a relationship after a period of threats and verbal assault. It is an extreme form of seeking to dominate and control one’s partner. Not that is any comfort to the victim: pain is pain.
Anyone of any age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic background or gender can become a victim. That said, the overwhelming number of perpetrators are men and the vast majority of victims are women: on average two women are killed in the UK each week by their partner or an ex, a number which rose to three in 2018.
The spiral downward to violence is often preceded by the perpetrator having a bad or unpredictable temper; punching or kicking walls; destroying their partner’s belongings; threatening to harm pets; threatening to commit suicide if their partner leaves; threatening to take the children away or harm them; or threatening to hurt or kill their partner.
As violent abusers often direct their blows where the bruises and marks will not show up, warning signs someone may be a victim of physical violence include:
Some victims regard the domestic violence they are suffering from as minor because it is not as severe as they have heard or read about. But a push against a wall is violence all the same: very serious injuries can result from that form of physical attack. Even if someone has assaulted their partner ‘only’ once or twice, there is a greater risk they will do so again and things then escalate into much more regular, and possibly more severe, physical abuse.
Abusive behaviour is nearly always a choice, a way for the perpetrator to gain control over their partner, and it follows a common pattern.
After the assault, the abuser says they feel guilty. But that is not always genuine remorse, more the fear of being caught and facing the consequences of their actions. Then the perpetrator rationalises what they have done, possibly coming up with a long line of excuses or blaming the victim for provoking them. They do not want to take responsibility for their violence.
A spell of normal behaviour follows with the abuser acting as if nothing has happened. They may turn on the charm to lull their partner into thinking that they have really changed. But it is usually a ploy to regain control and ensure their partner will stay in the relationship.
All too often the perpetrator then begins to fantasise about repeating the abuse, spending a lot of time thinking about what their partner has done wrong and how they will make them pay for it. Frequently they will the set the partner up to create an excuse to abuse again.
More profuse apologies and loving gestures follow, making it difficult for the victim to leave what has becoming a physically abusive relationship. And so the cycle keeps repeating itself.