Gender-based violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence (IPV), consists of a pattern of behaviours used by a partner to established power and control over the other partner in their relationship. Any person, regardless of their age, religion, professional status, education or gender, can at some point be a victim or a perpetrator. IPV can occur between people who are married, live together or during the first dates. Further details on types of abuse.

Physical abuse

 

Slapping, hitting, shoving, strangling, kidnapping, use of physical force to hurt you, etc.

Psychological / Emotional abuse

 

Harassment, following, isolation, ridicule, belittle, control (the way you dress/who you see), blackmail, etc.

Sexual abuse

 

Sexual acts forced upon you, without your consent: advances, verbal allusions, gestures, touches (usually, repeated and non-reciprocal) Rape is one of the most serious forms of sexual abuse.

Economic abuse

 

Controlling your income, forbidding you from working, excluding you from money-related decisions, etc.

The Cycle of Violence. How it occurs?

Every individual reacts to domestic violence differently: some decide to leave the relationship immediately after the first episode of violence, others stay in the situation, or leave the perpetrator, then go back to him several times. Walker (1979) explains this phenomenon through the cycle of violence, which comprises four phases:

  1. Tension building
  2. Acute violence
  3. Reconciliation/Honeymoon
  4. Calm

Why victims decide to stay in an abusive relationship?

It takes time to build a relationship and, if at the beginning it is based upon affectionate gestures and trust, in time, the need of one of the partners can turn into power and control. To leave an abusive relationship, the victim needs the support and the help of the people close to her or of specialized services, which is why many of them choose to stay. Other reasons they choose to stay:

Fear of the unknown. Being on your own seems more scary than being a victim. The responsibility of raising children on your own is overwhelming, even if she had no help in the past. The threat that she may lose her children if she walks out of the relationship. The partner promises he will change. The victim feels guilty about her partner not being able to make it without her. She believes he needs to be saved and she is the only one who can help him. Low self-esteem makes the victim feel like she deserved to be abused. This happens when the partner continuously says his being violent is her fault. Love that does not go away when the relationship turns violent. Social acceptance of domestic violence, through ideas like “She’s still there because she likes it” or “A slap will bring her back to her senses”. Being financially dependent on your partner. The need to find a stable job, a new house, etc. if she leaves him. Religious beliefs promoting mentalities such as “it’s faith” or “it’s God’s will”. Divorce stigma and the thought that it is not normal to break up with your partner. The idea that abuse is normal, based on the lack of examples showing what a healthy relationship is and isn’t.

Help! What to do?

  • When you witness a violent incident

    Immediately call 112. This is the first step towards saving the victim’s life. It doesn’t matter whether you know the victim or not. If you can, accompany her to get first aid or testify for her in court. You may be the only one who can attest to what happened.

  • When somebody you know faces intimate partner violence

    Don’t ask when her relationship became violent. Listen empathetically and openly and only offer to help if you are asked to. Don’t make assumptions and offer your unconditional support. Don’t push the victim to make any decisions. We all have our own rhythm and mechanisms when facing difficult situations.

  • If you are facing a difficult situation and decide to leave

    Look for real support when you let your partner know you want to leave him. This is one of the most dangerous moments and it is recommended that it happens in the presence of people close to you, so they can help protect you if necessary. Make use of the services of a counselling centre or of other specialized services (for example, a support group, a shelter, etc.). Gather information about the protection order, which obliges the perpetrator to keep the distance.

  • If you decide to stay in the same house as the perpetrator

    Establish a code for danger through which to let neighbours or friends to take action in case of danger, and to call the police.

What to do to leave safely?

Ask people close to you for support. To stay safe, you may have to move to a place where your former partner can’t find you. If you have children, you may have to transfer them to another school.

Prepare a safety luggage with clothes, money, official documents (ID, birth certificate, driving licence, credit card, etc.), back up house/car keys, documents attesting the violence (pictures, recordings, forensic medicine certificates etc.). . For further details, click here.

What to do after leaving the perpetrator?

Try to move to a safe space and only tell people you trust about your new address.

Buy a new SIM card and only give the number to people you trust. Change the passwords to all your social media accounts (e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to make sure you are not followed.

Cancel old bank accounts and credit cards, especially if you shared them with the perpetrator. Change your bank when opening new accounts.

If you stay in the same area as the perpetrator, change your daily routine. Take another route to work, avoid places where you used to go together and he could find you, shop in different stores/markets. Always have a charged phone with you, in case you have to call 112.

Ask for help from people or organizations specialized in the topic of violence. Find a support group. Try to understand what this new life means for you.

Get a protection order

What is a protection order?

The protection order is a court order instating urgent measures to protect you and your children. For example, one measure is to oblige the perpetrator to keep a minimum distance from you and your children, or from your and your children’s house, work place or school. For further details, click here.

What to do to obtain a protection order? 

Fill in a standard form, and submit it to the Court in whose jurisdiction you live. The form can be submitted personally or, with your consent, by a prosecutor or a social services worker dealing with domestic violence. There are no costs, as the form is exempt from stamp duties.

How can A.L.E.G. help you?

We offer psychological counselling services to family violence victims, women and children, aiming to help them regain control over their lives. We make available telephone, e-mail or face to face information services, under the guidance of a psychologist. Contact us for further details. If you think you are in a relationship that may be life-threatening, call 112 immediately and ask for help, or 0800 500 333 – the free 24/7 national line.

cbuzeaGender-based violence