Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Stay or Not to Stay: Domestic Violence

I want to touch on the issue of domestic violence in light of recent events involving superstars Chris Brown and Rihanna. (Brown allegedly physically abused his longtime girlfriend this past weekend in an L.A. neighborhood).

There are so many victims of domestic abuse, and this latest news proves that it can happen to anyone; rich or poor, young or old, male or female. It is for this reason one should learn to recognize the signs of a batterer early on and find ways to escape the situation.

Some early signs of a batterer include someone who wants to know your whereabouts at all times, to control who you spend your time with, and has a short temper. However, there are many others and they may differ per individual.

In Brown’s case, he witnessed his stepfather abuse his mother from an early age. It is very common for those who have been a victim of or witnessed domestic abuse to acquire abusive behavior later in life. Though this is no excuse for harming another individual, it is a familiar cycle.

MPT wants your input. Is it acceptable for the abused to abuse? What are some warning signs of a batterer? What are some tips on getting out of a violent relationship?

Renèe N. Gibson
Institutional Advancement Intern


Anonymous said...

Abuse should not be tolerated wheither it is physical or mental. Women AND some men, wait too late to get out these relationships because they tend to believe that have some mystical power to change their partners feelings towards them, when in the end the person who is changed is you. Your face, and body changes from the marks they leave. Your begin to goo into a depressive state, because of the mental abuse they feed.
Once, this happens it may seem asthough it is hard for you to get out, but its not. Trust me, I just recently left, an mental abusive relationship! It takes time to heal, but it comes.
The whole situation with Chris Brown, is that the fans, are making excuses, because he's some young heart throb, you appears he may not recieve harsh punishment, this may turn into a huge issue for the young girls growing up. If they see that "Chris Brown" gets away, or his actions are pushed to the side, then they will believe thats it is "no big deal", that little Bobbie or Timmy slaps me around. The media, needs to step up their game on this "celebrity" abuse problem.

Anonymous said...

I think this is an important matter that no one ever speaks about. Your article was informative. The other thing that we shouldn't forget is there is the emotional abuse as well.

Anonymous said...

are there any shows on MPT that deal with domestic violence?

Sara said...

MPT Should highlight some of the major changes that domestic violence advocates are trying to push through right now in Maryland. In Maryland alone domestic violence claimed the lives of 52 women and children in in 2006-07. Pretty sad. MPT should do an exclusive interview with someone at a domestic violence center like the House of Ruth and help get the word out.

Anonymous said...

While I don't think abuse of any kind should be tolerated, I think we shouldn't be so quick to rush to judgment on this one. We don't know what happened behind the scenes. Rumors have it that Rihanna struck him first. Other rumors state that he found out she had some sort of venereal disease and had transmitted it to him and she told him that evening. The whole point is that rumors are flying and the public is passing judgment as a result. While the injuries that Rihanna sustained are very hard to justify under any circumstances and Chris Brown should have some sort of consequences to face regardless, we don't know what set off a young man who, up until this time, had a nearly "perfect" public image. He wasn't a "bad boy" and had no history of this type of behavior. I think we on the outside need to weigh the FACTS a bit more once the truth comes out - and it will -before we rush to label anyone "horrible abuser" and "poor victim".

Lisa Nitsch said...

I have worked at the House Of Ruth Maryland for ten years and am currently the Gateway Project Program Manager. The Gateway Project is the agency's 22-week abuser intervention program.

I so appreciate this blog and particularly that you pointed out that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, etc. It is unfortunate that many believe domestic violence is something that only impacts low-income families based who depends on public services and who is (disproportionately) prosecuted.

You mentioned a short temper being a warning sign of someone who is abusive and while it is something we regularly hear from batterers I just want to clarify that it is just an excuse. While there are some generally violent people who are also violent with their intimate partners, most batterers pick their intimate partner to consistently be the victim of their abuse. You might hear a batterer refer to his short temper or say something like, "You know how I am." But the fact of the matter is that batterers are perfectly capable of controlling their tempers when they're at work, out at the club, or in court. Which brings me to an important point: domestic violence offenders do NOT have an anger management issue! Domestic violence isn't about anger. It is about power, control and intimidation.

Other warning signs of a batterer is someone who make the "rules" in the relationship or sets the expectations. These rules might change at their will and it is the batterer who doles out the punishment when a rule is "broken", versus renegotiating expectations. For example, an abusive partner might be the one to decide what a partner wears, how the children are disciplined, who is allowed to visit the family home, how paychecks are spent, who is responsible for doing the dishes, etc. Healthy, equal partners don't punish each other. The very notion of punishment implies a power imbalance, not partnership.

Finally, one of the very best things we can all do to assure ourselves we're in healthy relationships is to begin defining our relationships by how we handle the tough times instead of just focusing on how good the good times can be. Batterers depend on their partners remembering the time he/she brought roses home, when the money was lent, the gift was bought or, frankly, when the sex was good. You'll see these kinds of things happen in an abusive relationship just after there has been a major conflict. This is what we call the honeymoon phase of the cycle of violence and it's how batterers recapture their victims and convince them to stay or come back time and time again. (Unfortunately it also tends to fall right about the time in the criminal justice system when the State's Attorney needs the victim to testify.) I've heard hundreds of batterers talk about the bad times being bad but the good times being oh so good. That shouldn't be the measure of our relationships. Those good times are no excuse for anyone to be abused - emotionally or physically. Healthy, stable partnerships are measured by how families handle the tougher times. During our current economic crisis, when so many of us are facing tough times, this is even more important.

I appreciate the previous poster's reference the House Of Ruth Maryland and want to echo the encouragement to get in touch with us if you think you or someone you care about is in an abusive relationship. Our 24-hour hotline is (410) 889-RUTH. How can we help?

Anonymous said...

Renee, I'm so proud of you first. I'm not a big fan of either one of them. But, I think Rhianna should not go back to Chris Brown in any way. When a man hits you once, it is over and done with.


Morgan said...

No one, man or woman, should ever be beaten on in any circumstance. I love Chris Browns music but if that what he's about then I'll just stop listening.
I believe his mom was a single mom, (im not sure) but Im sure he would never want anyone beaten on his mom, so therefore sh should heep his hands to himself. Then again we dont know the whole story. We never know the whole story.

Lynn said...

This is a very good article, It was good information of early signs of being Batterer. Everyone needs to know this information.
Keep up the good work Renee.

Tasha said...

I think that just because Chris Brown is a celebrity that we shouldn't just "sweep this under the rug". To the people that are out there trying to sort out the whys as to why he did this to her, I don't agree. Does it really matter why he beat her up? Violence of any kind should not be condoned or accepted for whatever reason. Abuse is abuse and this entire incident is just really sad.

Brittany said...

I do not believe it is acceptable for the abused to abuse but I know it happens because without proper counseling and support unfortunately unhealthy habits learned as a child are often repeated in adulthood. I think there should be larger efforts placed on ending cycles before new damage begins. However, I do want to emphasize the double standard that often comes along with domestic violence, granted a man is typically much stronger than a woman and in our society it is highly unacceptable for a man to hit a woman but what about all the women who find it their right to hit a man. Granted they may not cause as much damage but what about the frustration and aggravation that builds with time. How would you feel if someone continually hit you and no one believed it was wrong and you are just expected to take it? Not fair. However, its not an excuse because there is the option of leaving. I think if you find yourself in any type of abusive relationship you should look for an exit whether its a simple as breaking up or as complex as looking for professional outside help.


Abuse is wrong - emotional and physical! Sometimes individuals being abused do not know that they are being abused because they do not see physical signs. Also, some believe that attention from another person means the other person loves them, regardless of what kind of attention it is that they are receiving. To me, this deals with low self-esteem.

In addition, many times friends and family members will stand by and watch their loved one(s) being abused and say or do nothing because they don't want to get in other "folks" business. Well all I have to say is...I'd rather be in your business than your hospital room or worse. Now there is a way to do anything...As a support person for someone being abused you can encourage them by telling them how beautiful they are, letting them know that they have a divine purpose in life (tactfully assure them that it is not being someone's punching bag), and be there for them when they need you! I love you my sisters and brothers, but more importantly LOVE YOURSELVES! BLESSINGS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Domestic violence is something everyone, especially the courts should take very serious. So many lives have been taken to this "disease" that may have been prevented if the courts had done their part. Actually I called it a disease, but I'm not sure - it seems to be a learned behavior in which the
batterer will not seek control over.
I feel for the victims in these cases, they are embarassed, ashamed, fearful, and therefore afraid to get out.
Please be encouraged by this article to be cautious of your relationships, and beware of this type of behavior, walk away from it, don't think it will get better, I'll change them. Only God can change a person. You get out and let God do the rest.

uncler said...

I hope I'm not too late to dime in on this matter. I believe a man (this includes youngesters of the age of 19) should know what his strengths and weaknesses are. He must come to grip with the idea of him being a potentially violent person or passive person. How a man developed his shortcomings or positives, be it from being abused or growing up seeing such things is not the issue. He must recognize his potential for violence against others and refrain from allow himself to be placed in a position where these shortcomings can be exposed. This young fella and so many others should have removed himself from that situation. While saying this is easier than doing, it is not impossible to recognize situations where you could place yourself or others in harms way. Walk or run away young brothers as soon as it gets hot, return at time when you can rationalize the situation much better. We all have shortcomings (tempers, lack of patience, egos) we are only human. Just see it coming and stay away. Violence against any woman is unexcusabel and unacceptable!!

spvictimnomore said...

To address the first question no it is never okay for the abused to abuse but it is a learned behavior that most abusers who have been abused don't realize that they have aquired the tendency to act out that same behavior. Secondly often times the signs go unnoticed because you are in love and love is blinding... you see a red flag but out of love you call it a red rose. Outsiders often see the signs before the victim does that is why it is hard for the victimized to get proper support. Outsiders aren't sensitive to the fact that the victim loves the victimizer. The way to get out has to be strategic, non provoking and safe. You cannot handle an abuser with abuse be it verbally, emotionally, or physically. You will need to plan a safe way to retreat and also find support for the abuser. You have no knowledge of what level and abuser is at when provoked so it is not wise to act out of emotion. Wisdom is better than fear. The depression is very real on the part of the victim and thus you lose your wisdom and even your fear ... it turns into other bad emotions. My suggestion is those on the outside need to understand that the victimizer and the victim both need help. Lashing out at the victimizer only makes more victims.
S.Polk Harford County MD

Anonymous said...

The abused can very commonly become the abuser, and it can happen in a matter of time. It's like you are brought up in a certain atmosphere or environment witnessing these violent and abusive behaviors, and before you know it you have processed these behaviors to be normal in a relationship or household. I do believe a person who has been subject to it growing up, should be counseled to process and deal with it. Also to forgive whoever that person was that was doing the abusing. Therefore, life will not be this wall built up of tough violent bricks to hide the pain of your past.

Ebony Jamacia said...

Physical and/or Mental abuse should never be acceptable. A man or a woman who allows abuse to subsist in their relatonship has as much of an issue as the abuser. I have no clue what happened with Rhianna and Chris Brown but in general events such as those alleged to be by Chris Brown are life changing. I've seen a strong woman become weak and vulnerable because of mental abuse and a Man change to a monster in all his anger. Domestic Violence is something I will never understand. You supposedly love the person yet you mentally break them down and physically put marks on them. No the abused does not have permission to abuse that is not excused if anything one should've learned what not to do and how not to go about the situation.
Very proud of you Renee!