Marital First Aid Kit
By Bryce Kaye
Threat of Physical Violence
Although there are a number of factors that may contribute to physical violence in a relationship, there is no excusing it. If you are the target of physical violence in your relationship, you need to find a way to stop it. This may require leaving the relationship altogether. If there are children who are also bearing the brunt of the physical abuse, then it is doubly important to take decisive action. You will certainly want to minimize your children's life-long emotional scarring. Even if you do not have children, do not underestimate the potential degree of psychological damage that can be done to yourself, let alone physical injury. People who tolerate physical violence for a long period of time develop predictable distortions in their own personality and severe damage to their self-esteem.
Marriage counselling for a physically violent partner is not usually feasible. Only after that partner has received professional help for their violence will marriage counselling hold any real potential benefit. The problem and responsibility for stopping the violence lies with the perpetrator. If you are the target of a physically violent partner, then your first responsibility is to get protection for yourself (and your children).
INTERVENTION #1 (For the partner who is the target of physical violence)
Telephone the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0345 023468. Alternatively visit the "Domestic Violence" area at 2-in-2-1 or Women's Aid where you will find recommendations for legal protection, steps to take, and even arrangements for special protective sheltering if needed.
INTERVENTION #2 (For the partner who is engaging in physical violence)
If you find that you can't stop the violence, then you need intensive help. First, stop any blaming of your spouse. In fact, stop blaming altogether as that won't help. You need to take responsible action and blaming behavior is usually only a "cop-out". Next, ask yourself if your violent episodes have occurred only when you've had a fair amount to drink. If so, then seek help right away for substance abuse. (See the recommended intervention for drug-affected relationships). Sedatives such as alcohol will often lower the inhibitory mechanism of the frontal lobes, thereby reducing impulse control. For this reason, you should never argue while intoxicated.
If your violence does not exactly correspond to alcohol or drug usage, then your problem is more personality based. There are a number of ways that this can be developed but we do not need to discuss that here. What is important is that you get the right kind of help. The best help in the UK can be found by contacting Women's Aid.
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