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Agir contre - La violence conjugale

Domestic Violence

How to recognize domestic violence

A number of signs may point to domestic violence in a relationship. These signs are present if one partner:

  • must “ask permission” to go out with close friends or family
  • is often ridiculed in front of others
  • is pushed or shoved
  • barely speaks when accompanied by his or her partner
  • becomes increasingly isolated from his or her loved ones
  • often has marks or bruises and attempts to hide them

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence nearly always occurs within an intimate relationship, either current or past. This form of violence, which compromises the victim’s integrity, is revealed in everyday behaviours from verbal threats, harassment and minor or serious physical injury to sexual assault and psychological and economic violence.

Domestic violence is a way of controlling the other person; it is not a loss of self-control. In a situation of domestic violence, the perpetrator uses numerous strategies to dominate a victim and make sure that person does not leave.

A vicious cycle

Violence committed in a domestic context is part of what we call the “cycle of domestic violence.” This cycle is put in motion and controlled by the perpetrator. It allows the perpetrator to maintain domination over a partner. In a violent intimate relationship, this cycle repeats itself over and over, and escalates with time.

Phase 1 – Tension

  • Perpetrators fly into a rage, give their partner threatening looks and fall silent for long periods.
  • Victims feel anxious, try to lighten the atmosphere and are careful about what they say and do.

Phase 2 – Crisis

  • Perpetrators verbally, psychologically, physically, sexually or economically attack the other person.
  • Victims feel humiliated, sad and see the situation as unfair.

Phase 3 – Justification

  • Perpetrators make excuses for their behaviour.
  • Victims try to understand the explanations, help the perpetrator change, doubt their own perceptions, and feel responsible for the situation.

Phase 4 – Honeymoon

  • Perpetrators beg for forgiveness and talk about therapy or suicide.
  • Victims give the perpetrator another chance, offer help, acknowledge the perpetrator’s efforts and modify their own behaviour.

Take action

Defuse the violence

Victims of domestic violence often need help from those close to them to break free of the cycle. Offer them your support to stop repeated behaviour that is unacceptable and often criminal.

Source: La violence conjugale… C’est quoi au juste?, (Montréal: Éditions du Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale, 1st quarter 2006).

Do things like this happen to you?