Spousal abuse recovery

Building Your Case: How to Document Abuse

Search Close

Leave this site safely

You can quickly leave this website by clicking the “X” in the top right or by pressing the Escape key twice.

To browse this site safely, be sure to regularly clear your browser history.

Got it

Security Alert

Internet usage can be monitored and is impossible to erase completely. If you’re concerned your internet usage might be monitored, call us at 800.799.SAFE (7233). Learn more about digital security and remember to clear your browser history after visiting this website.

Click the red “X” in the upper-right corner or “Escape” button on your keyboard twice at any time to leave TheHotline.org immediately.


If you are in an abusive relationship and are in the process of taking (or deciding to take) legal action against your abusive partner, documenting the abusive behaviors of your partner can be an important component of building your case.

It’s worth noting that each state has different laws about what evidence and documentation can be used in court. Speaking with a legal advocate in your state might better prepare you for your unique situation (our advocates at the Hotline can help locate a legal advocate near you). According to WomensLaw, in most states evidence can include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Verbal testimony from you or your witnesses
  • Medical reports of injuries from the abuse
  • Pictures (dated) of any injuries
  • Police reports of when you or a witness called the police
  • Household objects torn or broken by the abuser
  • Pictures of your household in disarray after a violent episode
  • Pictures of weapons used by the abuser against you
  • A personal diary or calendar in which you documented the abuse as it happened

Below are a few actions you can take to create documentation, if you are able to or feel safe doing so:

Visit the doctor.

More and more, doctors and gynecologists are trained to recognize signs of abuse. Your health care provider could also be a safe resource for disclosing the abuse. If you’re visiting a doctor for an injury, ask them about safe ways they can make notes about the abuse — ex. Some can write “cause of an injury” without it having to go to the police.

Consider outside documentation.

Do you have a trusted friend, coworker or family member who knows what’s going on and would be willing to help? There are many ways they can help document the abuse — whether that’s a coworker making note of times your partner calls you at the office, or a friend holding your journal at her house.

Create a stalking log.

If your partner is stalking you, creating a stalking log can be very helpful to your case. The National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center has examples of stalking logs (in PDF and Word formats) as well as additional information on stalking.

Learn more about police reports.

ex. Like filing about a lost bike. Ask, “Hypothetically, if there was something that was happening that I would want to report…”

Always ask questions. Call your local police department’s non-emergency number and find out about the protocols and procedures of filing a police report.

This can help you prepare for filing a police report if you need to, which creates a paper trail of the abuse.

Take pictures.

A digital camera or your phone camera may not always be safe. Consider getting a disposable camera. Another option is for someone else to take the pictures and keep them for you.

Let it go to voicemail.

Is your partner calling over and over? Let it go to voicemail once and save the voicemail.

Save digital evidence.

Do you have a smartphone? Most have the “take a screenshot” option. Thirty missed calls from your abusive partner? Take a screenshot of that. Threatening texts? Instead of responding to them, take a screenshot of them. These screen shots get saved in your images folder, so remember to send them on to a friend and delete them. If your partner sends threatening emails, don’t respond to them, but consider saving them in a folder in your inbox.

If you’re not sure if documenting your abuse would be safe, always go with your gut. It’s very important to keep in mind that you are the expert on your situation, and what works for one person may not be a safe idea for another person.

We are not legal advocates at the Hotline, but we are able to offer support and refer you to the local or state resources that might be helpful to you.

Answers shouldn’t be hard to find.

We're here to help!

  • Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
  • Chat live now
  • Text "START" to 88788

7 Steps of Healing from Domestic Violence

7 Steps of Healing from Domestic Violence
  • Conditions
    • Featured
      • Addictions
      • Anxiety Disorder
      • ADHD
      • Bipolar Disorder
      • Depression
      • PTSD
      • Schizophrenia
    • Articles
      • Adjustment Disorder
      • Agoraphobia
      • Borderline Personality Disorder
      • Childhood ADHD
      • Dissociative Identity Disorder
      • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
      • Narcolepsy
      • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
      • Panic Attack
      • Postpartum Depression
      • Schizoaffective Disorder
      • Seasonal Affective Disorder
      • Sex Addiction
      • Specific Phobias
      • Teenage Depression
      • Trauma
  • Discover
    • Wellness Topics
      • Black Mental Health
      • Grief
      • Emotional Health
      • Sex & Relationships
      • Trauma
      • Understanding Therapy
      • Workplace Mental Health
    • Original Series
      • My Life with OCD
      • Caregivers Chronicles
      • Empathy at Work
      • Sex, Love & All of the Above
      • Parent Central
      • Mindful Moment
    • News & Events
      • Mental Health News
      • COVID-19
      • Live Town Hall: Mental Health in Focus
    • Podcasts
      • Inside Mental Health
      • Inside Schizophrenia
      • Inside Bipolar
  • Quizzes
    • Conditions
      • ADHD Symptoms Quiz
      • Anxiety Symptoms Quiz
      • Autism Quiz: Family & Friends
      • Autism Symptoms Quiz
      • Bipolar Disorder Quiz
      • Borderline Personality Test
      • Childhood ADHD Quiz
      • Depression Symptoms Quiz
      • Eating Disorder Quiz
      • Narcissim Symptoms Test
      • OCD Symptoms Quiz
      • Psychopathy Test
      • PTSD Symptoms Quiz
      • Schizophrenia Quiz
    • Lifestyle
      • Attachment Style Quiz
      • Career Test
      • Do I Need Therapy Quiz?
      • Domestic Violence Screening Quiz
      • Emotional Type Quiz
      • Loneliness Quiz
      • Parenting Style Quiz
      • Personality Test
      • Relationship Quiz
      • Stress Test
      • What's Your Sleep Like?
  • Resources
    • Treatment & Support
      • Find Support
      • Suicide Prevention
      • Drugs & Medications
      • Find a Therapist

Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on November 17, 2017

The first time Nancy came into counseling she had a hard time looking at her therapist. Embarrassed and ashamed of the bruises on her body, the mental torture from her spouse, and sexual acts he coerced her into doing, she struggled to talk. She believed that she deserved to be treated this way and her actions were causing his rage. Nancy minimized his acts by making excuses for his abusive behavior and blaming herself.

It took a while for Nancy to summon the courage leave her husband. Once she did, she thought that all of her problems would be over and she would be healed. However, what she thought was the finish of a race, was really just the beginning. It took her over a year to recover from her trauma and get to a place of feeling at peace. Heres how she did it.

  1. Safety first. The healing process begins when the victim of abuse is finally away from their abuser. Unfortunately this step can take months or even years of planning and preparation before it can become a reality. Safety means the victim is physically away from their attacker and can sleep without fear. After Nancy left, she had a hard time believing she was safe and needed the reassurance of others literally saying, You are safe, over and over until it began to feel real.
  2. Stabilize environment. The temptation of therapists is to dive into the healing process after a victim is deemed safe. But doing this before the stabilization of a new environment can re-traumatize. Rather, the victim needs a period of rest to adjust to a new normal before the therapeutic work begins. The length of this necessary step is dictated solely by the victim and the amount of abuse endured. It took several months before Nancy felt like she could breathe again as the confused fog of abuse lifted.
  3. Support unconditionally. Between her therapist and two close friends, Nancy felt loved unconditionally even when she talked about how much she missed her abusive husband. It was as if Nancy was forgetting the trauma and only remembering the good times they shared. One of her family members became so frustrated with Nancys sadness that they yelled at her and pulled away. This was so painful for Nancy but the continued support of her two friends more than made up for the lack of family support.
  4. Share experiences. One of the most helpful steps to recovery from abuse is to find a support group with other victims of abuse. This shared common experience allows a person to realize that they are not alone in their abusive encounters. Abuse is very isolating, personal, degrading, humiliating, and shameful. Knowing that other intelligent, beautiful, talented, and kind people have been abused is both saddening and relieving. Nancys support group gave her additional people that she could lean on who understood from their own experience what she was going through.
  5. Settle incidents. This is often the most difficult step from an awareness perspective. As the obvious abuse is recounted, new obscure abuse comes to light. Most victims dont even realize the extent of their abuse until they reach this step. When they do, it can be overwhelming and will likely restart the grieving process all over again. As Nancy examined each major traumatic incident, other types of abuse surfaced. She came to see that she was also mentally, verbally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually abused in addition to her physical abuse. Processing this information was hard at first, but it put a nail in the coffin of her abusive relationship for good. There was no turning back now for Nancy.
  6. Stitch wounds. In order to stich the wounds of Nancys abuse, she needed to rewrite her internal dialog of what happened. In the past, she would minimize his contribution to an incident and take excessive responsibility for his behavior. When she stopped doing this and instead held him responsible for his actions, things changed. Nancy no longer believed that she was worthless or deserving of his abusive treatment. As time progressed, she began to take pride in her scars as evidence of her strength, determination, fortitude, and perseverance.
  7. Set standards. The final step towards Nancys healing was to set new standards for how she expected to be treated. These became the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Anytime a person would violate one of her limitations, she would confront them. If they demonstrated respect by their actions and not words, Nancy would remain in the relationship. If they did not, she ended things. These new standards helped to reduce her fear that she would reenter into another abusive relationship.

It is important to note that abuse can happen to anyone in any relationship. While this article highlights Nancys experience of abuse from her husband, a man can also be the victim of abuse from his wife. Partner relationships, parent/child relationships, and friendships can be abusive as well. It is not the nature of the relationship or the sensitivity of the victim that determines abusiveness; rather it is the actions of the abuser.

Last medically reviewed on November 17, 2017


Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on November 17, 2017

Read this next

  • What Are the Signs of Domestic Violence?

    Domestic violence can come in many forms and look different from situation to situation. But there are common signs to look out for.


  • What Causes Domestic Violence?

    Medically reviewed by Jennifer Litner, LMFT, CST

    Domestic abuse can take many forms and often begins subtly for those who experience it. Here's what we know about the causes of domestic violence.


  • The Physical & Emotional Injuries of Domestic Violence

    All victims of domestic violence can be physically and emotionally injured. However, because of general streng


  • Five Types of Physical Abuse Narcissists Use on Spouses

    Have your clients experienced a time when their narcissistic spouse lost control and became scary angry? Did t


  • Battered Woman Syndrome: Key Elements of a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan

    Women who are victims of intimate-partner violence have been identified by the mental health field for more th


Prevention of psychological abuse in marital relationships

%PDF-1. 4 % 10 obj > endobj 6 0 obj /Title >> endobj 20 obj > endobj 3 0 obj > /Contents[263 0 R 264 0 R 265 0 R] /Annots [266 0R] >> endobj 40 obj > endobj 5 0 obj > stream

  • Prevention of psychological abuse in marital relationships
  • Vorobieva O.V.1.42016-09-06T08:41:37+02:00 endstream endobj 70 obj > /ProcSet [/PDF /Text /ImageC /ImageI /ImageB] >> endobj 80 obj > /Contents 275 0 R >> endobj 90 obj > /Contents 276 0R >> endobj 10 0 obj > /Contents 277 0R >> endobj 11 0 obj > /Contents 278 0R >> endobj 12 0 obj > /Contents 279 0 R >> endobj 13 0 obj > /Contents 280 0 R >> endobj 14 0 obj > /Contents 281 0R >> endobj 15 0 obj > /Contents 282 0 R >> endobj 16 0 obj > /Contents 283 0 R >> endobj 17 0 obj > /Contents 284 0 R >> endobj 18 0 obj > /Contents 285 0 R >> endobj 19 0 obj > /Contents 286 0 R >> endobj 20 0 obj > /Contents 287 0 R >> endobj 21 0 obj > /Contents 288 0 R >> endobj 22 0 obj > /Contents 2890R >> endobj 23 0 obj > /Contents 290 0R >> endobj 24 0 obj > /Contents 291 0 R >> endobj 25 0 obj > /Contents 292 0R >> endobj 26 0 obj > /Contents 293 0R >> endobj 27 0 obj > /Contents 294 0R >> endobj 28 0 obj > /Contents 295 0 R >> endobj 29 0 obj > /Contents 296 0 R >> endobj 30 0 obj > /Contents 297 0 R >> endobj 31 0 obj > /Contents 298 0 R >> endobj 32 0 obj > /Contents 299 0 R >> endobj 33 0 obj > /Contents 300 0 R >> endobj 34 0 obj > /Contents 301 0 R >> endobj 35 0 obj > /Contents 302 0 R >> endobj 36 0 obj > /Contents 303 0R >> endobj 37 0 obj > /Contents 304 0 R >> endobj 38 0 obj > /Contents 305 0R >> endobj 390 obj > /Contents 306 0 R >> endobj 40 0 obj > /Contents 307 0 R >> endobj 41 0 obj > /Contents 308 0 R >> endobj 42 0 obj > /Contents 309 0 R >> endobj 43 0 obj > /Contents 310 0 R >> endobj 44 0 obj > /Contents 311 0R >> endobj 45 0 obj > /Contents 312 0R >> endobj 46 0 obj > /Contents 313 0 R >> endobj 47 0 obj > /Contents 314 0 R >> endobj 48 0 obj > /Contents 315 0 R >> endobj 49 0 obj > /Contents 316 0R >> endobj 50 0 obj > /Contents 317 0 R >> endobj 51 0 obj > /Contents 318 0R >> endobj 52 0 obj > /Contents 3190R >> endobj 53 0 obj > /Contents 320 0R >> endobj 54 0 obj > /Contents 321 0 R >> endobj 55 0 obj > /Contents 322 0 R >> endobj 56 0 obj > /Contents 323 0 R >> endobj 57 0 obj > /Contents 324 0 R >> endobj 58 0 obj > /Contents 325 0R >> endobj 59 0 obj > /Contents 326 0 R >> endobj 60 0 obj > /Contents 327 0 R >> endobj 61 0 obj > /Contents 328 0 R >> endobj 62 0 obj > /Contents 329 0 R >> endobj 63 0 obj > /Contents 330 0R >> endobj 64 0 obj > /Contents 331 0 R >> endobj 65 0 obj > /Contents 332 0R >> endobj 66 0 obj > /Contents 333 0R >> endobj 67 0 obj > /Contents 334 0R >> endobj 68 0 obj > /Contents 335 0 R >> endobj 690 obj > /Contents 336 0 R >> endobj 70 0 obj > /Contents 337 0 R >> endobj 71 0 obj > /Contents 338 0R >> endobj 72 0 obj > /Contents 339 0R >> endobj 73 0 obj > /Contents 340 0R >> endobj 74 0 obj > /Contents 341 0R >> endobj 75 0 obj > /Contents 342 0 R >> endobj 76 0 obj > /Contents 343 0R >> endobj 77 0 obj > /Contents 344 0R >> endobj 78 0 obj > /Contents 345 0 R >> endobj 79 0 obj > /Contents 346 0 R >> endobj 80 0 obj > /Contents 347 0 R >> endobj 81 0 obj > /Contents 348 0 R >> endobj 82 0 obj > /Contents 3490R >> endobj 83 0 obj > /Contents 350 0 R >> endobj 84 0 obj > /Contents 351 0 R >> endobj 85 0 obj > /Contents 352 0 R >> endobj 86 0 obj > /Contents 353 0R >> endobj 87 0 obj > /Contents 354 0 R >> endobj 88 0 obj > /Contents 355 0 R >> endobj 89 0 obj > /Contents 356 0 R >> endobj 90 0 obj > /Contents 357 0 R >> endobj 91 0 obj > /Contents 358 0 R >> endobj 92 0 obj > /Contents 359 0R >> endobj 93 0 obj > /Contents 360 0 R >> endobj 94 0 obj > /Contents 361 0 R >> endobj 95 0 obj > /Contents 362 0 R >> endobj 96 0 obj > /Contents 363 0 R >> endobj 97 0 obj > /Contents 364 0 R >> endobj 98 0 obj > /Contents 365 0 R >> endobj 99 0 obj > /Contents 366 0 R >> endobj 100 0 obj > /Contents 367 0 R >> endobj 101 0 obj > /Contents 368 0 R >> endobj 102 0 obj > /Contents 369 0 R >> endobj 103 0 obj > /Contents 370 0 R >> endobj 104 0 obj > /Contents 371 0R >> endobj 105 0 obj > /Contents 372 0R >> endobj 106 0 obj > /Contents 373 0R >> endobj 107 0 obj > /Contents 374 0 R >> endobj 108 0 obj > /Contents 375 0 R >> endobj 1090 obj > /Contents 376 0 R >> endobj 110 0 obj > /Contents 377 0 R >> endobj 111 0 obj > /Contents 378 0 R >> endobj 112 0 obj > /Contents 379 0R >> endobj 113 0 obj > /Contents 380 0R >> endobj 114 0 obj > /Contents 381 0 R >> endobj 115 0 obj > /Contents 382 0 R >> endobj 116 0 obj > /Contents 383 0 R >> endobj 117 0 obj > /Contents 384 0 R >> endobj 118 0 obj > /Contents 385 0 R >> endobj 119 0 obj > /Contents 386 0 R >> endobj 120 0 obj > /Contents 387 0R >> endobj 121 0 obj > /Contents 388 0 R >> endobj 122 0 obj > /Contents 3890R >> endobj 123 0 obj > /Contents 390 0R >> endobj 124 0 obj > /Contents 391 0 R >> endobj 125 0 obj > /Contents 392 0R >> endobj 126 0 obj > /Contents 393 0R >> endobj 127 0 obj > /Contents 394 0 R >> endobj 128 0 obj > /Contents 395 0 R >> endobj 129 0 obj > /Contents 396 0 R >> endobj 130 0 obj > /Contents 397 0 R >> endobj 131 0 obj > /Contents 398 0R >> endobj 132 0 obj > /Contents 399 0R >> endobj 133 0 obj > /Contents 400 0 R >> endobj 134 0 obj > /Contents 401 0 R >> endobj 135 0 obj > /Contents 402 0 R >> endobj 136 0 obj > /Contents 403 0R >> endobj 137 0 obj > /Contents 404 0 R >> endobj 138 0 obj > /Contents 405 0 R >> endobj 1390 obj > /Contents 406 0 R >> endobj 140 0 obj > /Contents 407 0 R >> endobj 141 0 obj > /Contents 408 0 R >> endobj 142 0 obj > /Contents 409 0 R >> endobj 143 0 obj > /Contents 410 0 R >> endobj 144 0 obj > /Contents 411 0 R >> endobj 145 0 obj > /Contents 412 0 R >> endobj 146 0 obj > /Contents 413 0 R >> endobj 147 0 obj > /Contents 414 0 R >> endobj 148 0 obj > /Contents 415 0 R >> endobj 149 0 obj > /Contents 416 0 R >> endobj 150 0 obj > /Contents 417 0 R >> endobj 151 0 obj > /Contents 418 0 R >> endobj 152 0 obj > /Contents 4190R >> endobj 153 0 obj > /Contents 420 0 R >> endobj 154 0 obj > /Contents 421 0 R >> endobj 155 0 obj > /Contents 422 0 R >> endobj 156 0 obj > /Contents 423 0 R >> endobj 157 0 obj > /Contents 424 0 R >> endobj 158 0 obj > /Contents 425 0 R >> endobj 159 0 obj > /Contents 426 0 R >> endobj 160 0 obj > /Contents 427 0 R >> endobj 161 0 obj > /Contents 428 0 R >> endobj 162 0 obj > /Contents 429 0 R >> endobj 163 0 obj > /Contents 430 0 R >> endobj 164 0 obj > /Contents 431 0 R >> endobj 165 0 obj > /Contents 432 0 R >> endobj 166 0 obj > /Contents 433 0 R >> endobj 167 0 obj > /Contents 434 0 R >> endobj 168 0 obj > /Contents 435 0 R >> endobj 1690 obj > /Contents 436 0 R >> endobj 170 0 obj > /Contents 437 0 R >> endobj 171 0 obj > /Contents 438 0 R >> endobj 172 0 obj > /Contents 439 0 R >> endobj 173 0 obj > /Contents 440 0 R >> endobj 174 0 obj > /Contents 441 0R >> endobj 175 0 obj > /Contents 442 0R >> endobj 176 0 obj > /Contents 443 0 R >> endobj 177 0 obj > /Contents 444 0 R >> endobj 178 0 obj > /Contents 445 0 R >> endobj 179 0 obj > /Contents 446 0 R >> endobj 180 0 obj > /Contents 447 0 R >> endobj 181 0 obj > /Contents 448 0 R >> endobj 182 0 obj > /Contents 4490R >> endobj 183 0 obj > /Contents 450 0 R >> endobj 184 0 obj > /Contents 451 0R >> endobj 185 0 obj > /Contents 452 0 R >> endobj 186 0 obj > /Contents 453 0 R >> endobj 187 0 obj > /Contents 454 0 R >> endobj 188 0 obj > /Contents 455 0 R >> endobj 189 0 obj > /Contents 456 0 R >> endobj 190 0 obj > /Contents 457 0 R >> endobj 191 0 obj > /Contents 458 0 R >> endobj 192 0 obj > /Contents 459 0 R >> endobj 193 0 obj > /Contents 460 0 R >> endobj 194 0 obj > /Contents 461 0 R >> endobj 195 0 obj > /Contents 462 0R >> endobj 196 0 obj > /Contents 463 0 R >> endobj 197 0 obj > /Contents 464 0R >> endobj 198 0 obj > /Contents 465 0R >> endobj 199 0 obj > /Contents 466 0R >> endobj 200 0 obj > /Contents 467 0R >> endobj 201 0 obj > /Contents 468 0R >> endobj 202 0 obj > /Contents 469 0R >> endobj 203 0 obj > /Contents 470 0R >> endobj 204 0 obj > /Contents 471 0 R >> endobj 205 0 obj > /Contents 472 0 R >> endobj 206 0 obj > /Contents 473 0 R >> endobj 207 0 obj > /Contents 474 0 R >> endobj 208 0 obj > /Contents 475 0 R >> endobj 2090 obj > /Contents 476 0 R >> endobj 210 0 obj > /Contents 477 0 R >> endobj 211 0 obj > /Contents 478 0 R >> endobj 212 0 obj > /Contents 479 0 R >> endobj 213 0 obj > /Contents 480 0 R >> endobj 214 0 obj > /Contents 481 0 R >> endobj 215 0 obj > /Contents 482 0 R >> endobj 216 0 obj > /Contents 483 0 R >> endobj 217 0 obj > /Contents 484 0 R >> endobj 218 0 obj > /Contents 485 0R >> endobj 219 0 obj > /Contents 486 0 R >> endobj 220 0 obj > /Contents 487 0 R >> endobj 221 0 obj > /Contents 488 0 R >> endobj 222 0 obj > /Contents 4890R >> endobj 223 0 obj > /Contents 490 0R >> endobj 224 0 obj > /Contents 491 0R >> endobj 225 0 obj > /Contents 492 0 R >> endobj 226 0 obj > /Contents 493 0 R >> endobj 227 0 obj > /Contents 494 0 R >> endobj 228 0 obj > /Contents 495 0 R >> endobj 229 0 obj > /Contents 496 0 R >> endobj 230 0 obj > /Contents 497 0 R >> endobj 231 0 obj > /Contents 498 0 R >> endobj 232 0 obj > /Contents 499 0 R >> endobj 233 0 obj > /Contents 500 0 R >> endobj 234 0 obj > /Contents 501 0 R >> endobj 235 0 obj > /Contents 502 0R >> endobj 236 0 obj > /Contents 503 0R >> endobj 237 0 obj > /Contents 504 0R >> endobj 238 0 obj > /Contents 505 0R >> endobj 2390 obj > /Contents 506 0 R >> endobj 240 0 obj > /Contents 507 0R >> endobj 241 0 obj > /Contents 508 0 R >> endobj 242 0 obj > /Contents 509 0 R >> endobj 243 0 obj > /Contents 510 0 R >> endobj 244 0 obj > /Contents 511 0R >> endobj 245 0 obj > /Contents 512 0 R >> endobj 246 0 obj > /Contents 513 0 R >> endobj 247 0 obj > /Contents 514 0 R >> endobj 248 0 obj > /Contents 515 0R >> endobj 249 0 obj > /Contents 516 0R >> endobj 250 0 obj > /Contents 517 0R >> endobj 251 0 obj > /Contents 518 0R >> endobj 252 0 obj > /Contents 5190R >> endobj 253 0 obj > /Contents 520 0 R >> endobj 254 0 obj > /Contents 521 0 R >> endobj 255 0 obj > /Contents 522 0 R >> endobj 256 0 obj > /Contents 523 0 R >> endobj 257 0 obj > /Contents 524 0R >> endobj 258 0 obj > /Contents 525 0 R >> endobj 259 0 obj > /Contents 526 0 R >> endobj 260 0 obj > /Contents 527 0R >> endobj 261 0 obj > /Contents 528 0R >> endobj 262 0 obj > /Contents 529 0R >> endobj 263 0 obj > stream xZKoFW@*g ,>@AOM PsIJ. m77gD#8fʤzMK実7nKL'iǜuJn?5O̵qnq{s5v0ّ4a͡1_Ľձښk& R&ad[R Ǧ2=vSegβFLeKQWYuSt wddnq5iY

    Every second person is a victim

    ‒ Andrey, how did your center appear? The direction of your activity - the rehabilitation of domestic rapists - is still a new practice for Russia, I have never heard of anyone doing this in our country. On the contrary, even the very existence of domestic violence is often denied.

    ‒ It’s better to be clear right away: we call our clients not rapists, but people who use violence, or authors of violence – this wording allows us not to identify ourselves with violence, gives a chance to look at our act from the outside and realize it.

    The idea did not come to us suddenly, it was formed gradually. We have several people on the team. When I joined, working with violence was interesting to me both from a professional and personal point of view: I am very sensitive to issues of coercion, I largely understand the history of my growing up as a struggle against illegitimate power over oneself - in a variety of situations I had to defend my freedom will. I won’t say that there was something terrible there, the stories that we encounter in our work are much more terrible.

    For several years, colleagues came to us, first from European countries, to advise us on methodological issues. We got acquainted with the statistics, understood that such a practice would be relevant for our country, gradually began to work, and then we were also offered funding for these projects. So our organization appeared due to the fact that the urgency of the problem, professional interests and the willingness of people to invest in this matter came together. It is worth noting the special role of the St. Petersburg “Crisis Center for Women” - colleagues did a lot for the development of our organization, as they understood that it was not enough to work only with victims, it was necessary to work out problems with all participants in the situation of violence.

    - You mentioned statistics. What numbers are we talking about?

    ‒ In 2010, the Committee on Social Policy of St. Petersburg cited research data, according to which 44% of St. Petersburg residents have experienced domestic violence in one form or another. That is, half of our society knows what it is about, knows what domestic violence is. This is a big problem, and it significantly affects the way society as a whole lives. For me, these figures have become one of the arguments in favor of the relevance of our work.

    ‒ Are there statistics on the success rates of similar programs abroad?

    ‒ First we worked with the Norwegians, then with the Swedes, now we are a member of the European Association of Professionals Working with Subjects of Violence. Why was the Scandinavian experience taken as a basis? Because colleagues show fairly good results, 80% of their clients do not return to the practice of domestic violence (according to a five-year follow-up after the end of psychological work). That is 80% without recurrence. This is achieved, among other things, thanks to a rather long work with the client. True, Scandinavia has built a system of motivation for passing such programs - it is difficult to hush up family violence there, there is strong public pressure on the authors of the violence.

    A question of self-discipline

    – What is the essence of this technique?

    ‒ Everyone is responsible for their actions. We do not hypnotize clients, we do not put them into a trance. We are talking about the fact that you can control your actions. And a person, if he is sincere, admits that the act of violence was a conscious choice - not in the sense that a person sat and thought about how he would beat his wife (although this happens), but that there is always an opportunity to stop, even if you tend to think afterwards that you couldn't control yourself. We bring a person to a masculine position: I did it, I can manage it and I can change the situation if I see fit. When people see for themselves a different opportunity for behavior, they can change a lot in their lives. And of course, in the life of his family. Now remember those 44% - this is the number of victims of violence. But it means that there were also authors, and if each of these authors changes, then society itself will change.

    ‒ How do authors of violence get to you? Wives bring?

    ‒ Not really. There are two types of violence - affective and instrumental. With an affective person, it seems that he is not aware of his actions, although this, as I said above, is not entirely true. And the instrumental is just full awareness and sometimes even planned actions, these are very difficult cases. Most of our clients are those who commit violence in passion. In a calm state, none of them said that yes, he wants to continue in the same spirit. On the contrary, they say: “I’m carried, they provoke me, I can’t restrain myself, how to stop ?!” Why do such people come? If you are afraid of losing something important to yourself. Our clients are those for whom the value of relationships is quite high - they are afraid of being left without relationships, without a family, without children, when guardianship authorities begin to control the situation or a woman is not ready to communicate with a person who behaves this way. Feeling the threat of loss, they come to us. True, often without fully realizing their behavior, but on the contrary, asking "to explain to her that everything is fine." Sometimes we are talking about the reputational losses that a person bears. In our practice, there is a case of an appeal after a decision was made by a foreign judicial system - they urged a Russian citizen living abroad to go through the program. This he himself needed to be considered in the host country.

    But women also call with the question: “What should I do to get my husband to contact you?” In such situations, we advise you to first consider whether it is safe for her to raise such a question. Unfortunately, such attempts often end in another batch of beatings. Here it is more important to ensure a sufficient distance between yourself and the offender, to protect yourself and your children.

    But there are also those who feel more confident and understand that things have not yet gone that far. In this case, yes, a woman can encourage a man to come to us.

    - You said that most of the acts of violence occur in the heat of passion. In everyday consciousness, affect is associated with complete unconsciousness of actions. And if so, how to explain your words that the choice of violence by your clients is a voluntary choice?

    - This is a matter of self-discipline or, conversely, indulging your passions and weaknesses. If I am used to giving in to my weaknesses, I will certainly be carried away. But there is always an opportunity to evaluate what is happening, especially if you are being helped. We apply methodologically simple techniques - we restore situations of violence, we live them anew, but with full contact with reality, with a full sense of the moment. We propose to evaluate the impact force on a ten-point scale. Or, if it was not a blow, but a scream, then evaluate its volume. And it has never happened that people gave the maximum rating. Give five or six points. Or we ask you to rate your level of anger, again on a scale from 0 to 10. Here and up to 9-10 comes. Violence develops gradually, blows and beatings are preceded by throwing or destruction of objects. In our office, the client, with surprise for himself, describes the situation when there is a phone and a saucer on the table, and he grabs the saucer, and the smartphone continues to lie quietly. Here the client asks the question - why, if I did not control myself, I did not break the phone. A person understands that this is an expensive thing, and this is cheap, he understands what can be beaten and what cannot. You can also ask: “Would you act in the same way (i.e. using violence) not at home in the kitchen, but in a public place, in a shopping center or in a cafe? Not? So, we can assume that you are aware, understand what you are doing.

    And so, gradually, with the aim of showing the real state of things, we lead them to accept responsibility for their actions. I think everyone can conduct such an experiment on themselves. There is no need to take any extreme situations, just observe your behavior in a stressful situation, evaluate what actions you perform, what decisions you make, and it turns out that it is possible - to master self-regulation. However, indulging your own passions, it is, of course, easier to wave your fist. Moreover, it seems to be a socially permitted model of a man's behavior - anger as a confirmation of masculinity. This also influences decision making.

    Sweets, bouquets, beatings

    ‒ There is an opinion in popular psychology about the irreversibility of the behavior of domestic abusers. They cite the following behavioral chain: first, verbal and psychological violence - then beatings - then a possible murder. What is your opinion about "irreversibility"?

    - This is partly true. There is such a thing as cycles of violence. Schematically, it looks like this: an increase in tension, its release, a candy-bouquet period of atonement for sins, again tension, again a reset. Over time, the cycles become shorter and the violence more violent. This inertia, if there is no external interference in the system, can lead to murder. Either the woman, driven to despair herself, destroys the offender, or he eventually kills her.

    ‒ What does the author of violence see in him? What is the rationale behind his actions?

    - Violence has positive reinforcement for the abuser. A person experiences a buzz from the very outburst of emotions, from the fact that he can afford unlimited actions, throw out energy, swing, assert himself. This emotion is so strong that it requires confirmation, repetition - like an addiction to psychoactive substances in drug addicts. Hence the repeating cycles. This craving is largely unconscious, of course. The author of the violence forgets the negative of the situation, but the feeling of high remains, demanding to be reproduced again and again.

    ‒ Did I understand correctly that it is difficult, almost impossible, to stop this without external intervention?

    ‒ I would be careful not to say for certain, because we are talking about people, not robots. This means that the dynamics of behavior is not always unambiguous. There are insights when a person himself is aware of everything and stops destructive actions. It would be more correct to say this: there is a scenario of increased violence, it is very likely, but exceptions are possible. There is another nuance here - violence can last for years, but the offender and even the victim may think that it's so normal, that everyone has it - they get used to it. The offender does not see this as a problem. He may believe that the family is doing well, that he is thus fulfilling his role as head. Often people refer to Domostroy. By the way, there is a fairly common descriptive approach in which it is believed that traditional society contributes to the existence of domestic violence. By the way, can our society be called traditional or not? Be that as it may, if we recall the above statistics, it turns out that we have 56% of people who have not experienced domestic violence. This means that models are possible when people live differently, probably take care of each other.

    ‒ You have already touched on some ontological foundations of being...

    ‒ Yes, probably. This is an eternal story of myths and legends, literature. Power is a great temptation in which it is difficult to maintain humanity. And it's not always a gender story. It happens that a wife is the author of violence against her husband, or adult children against elderly parents. And our colleagues from crisis centers for women observe the attitude of mothers towards small children - there, women who suffered at the hands of their husbands transmit violence further, to children. Violence is hierarchical, from the oldest to the youngest, from the strongest to the weakest.

    Sometimes it is really difficult to understand what it is - psychology or archetypes, lost in the depths of the collective unconscious. Therefore, I repeat, I would not like to express myself in absolute categories. Rehabilitation and assistance to affected families should be conscious and careful - how many episodes when they interfere without tact, without understanding the situation, only exacerbating the situation. Our role is that we supplement the system of violence prevention, open a new sector. A man, or more accurately, a violent author, can calmly talk about his sins or wrongdoings. Talk without expecting blame or mentoring from a counselor. This is a rare opportunity, because friends or relatives, if they are not afraid to listen, will give advice, and it is not known in which direction. A good consultant, like a mirror, brings nothing of his own. We are only bringing to light what was forced out of consciousness by a person, and he must make the decision himself.

    Dad, mom, me

    ‒ How can you track your performance?

    ‒ In our experience, if a person starts talking, then violence always subsides, at least physical. With the client, we discuss the opportunity to communicate with his partner. They usually agree. We ask the partner how the relationship has changed, whether there is violence left in them, how the partner feels and sees prospects. And if a crisis center for victims of violence also works with a partner and rehabilitation is carried out with children (because even if they are not victims, but simply witnesses of violence, this very seriously affects the child's psyche), then this is very good. In parallel, we have a healing effect on all participants in the situation of violence, then there is a greater chance to change the entire system. And when the violence is stopped and there are no relapses, you can move on to family therapy - there are other methods and other approaches that imply the presence of equal parties.

    ‒ Speaking of children. It has always amazed me that a child, a witness or a victim of violence, reproduces in adult life the same pattern of behavior that he himself suffered from. What's the matter?

    ‒ The fact is that for young children, parents are the whole world. Blaming parents means doubting the viability of this world, this is how the child's psyche works. Therefore, they take the blame for the violence on themselves: “It’s my fault, dad or mom has nothing to do with it, I behave badly, that’s why something bad happens in the family. I have to make amends and everything will be fine.” It's such a defense mechanism. And then - since I think that the father or mother is not to blame, then I adopt their model of behavior for my future family life. If something in my behavior is wrong, then I begin to rationalize, explain logically my own actions - “I'm a man”, “I'm a husband”, “I'm a mother” and so on. I can, I have to.

    ‒ How to distinguish between violence and conflict? Many families sort things out, but not in all cases, perhaps, we can talk about a situation of violence?

    ‒ Authors of violence are not some isolated crazy people, this is a much more common phenomenon, even mundane, and in everyone's life one can find an episode when a person became the author of violence. The criterion is in an attempt to suppress and subjugate the will of another person. In a conflict, each side pursues its own interests, defending them in one way or another. Balance is important here - neither side tries to win and subjugate the other. It happens that we are carried away, we go beyond the permissible, but we realize that we have crossed the line, and, guided by goodwill, we make concessions. Good will does not mean being ready to break into a cake for the sake of another, sacrificing oneself against one's own desire, it is just a willingness to take into account the interests of a partner, take into account his desires. It's like if you are walking down the corridor, and another person is meeting you, even if he is smaller and weaker than you, and you are ready to give way. Violence is the desire to destroy and enslave the opponent, to suppress him.

    Zero emotions

    ‒ I have come across the opinion that most authors of family violence are psychopaths, in a psychiatric sense. They have no empathy, sympathy, no remorse for their actions.

    ‒ Since I am not a doctor, but a psychologist with no medical education, I am not ready to discuss medical diagnoses. But then again, I repeat, violence, unfortunately, is much more common among people with a psychiatric norm. And, indeed, those prone to violence have reduced empathy, and hence the ability to sympathize. Often they are sincerely perplexed: why is everyone so worried?

    ‒ What is the reason for such emotional poverty?

    ‒ There must be a combination of reasons. For example, existing models of raising men simplify their emotional sphere. Feelings that are not "male" - tenderness, tears - are taboo. This is a general social norm, part of the culture. As a result, we can say that in men in a traditional society, the emotional sphere is in a certain sense underdeveloped. With clients, we re-master the palette of feelings. There was a man, we played different situations with him: I portrayed a feeling, and he guessed. Then vice versa. Over time, he began to understand feelings. And this is an ordinary person, although he has seen a lot in his life, including the war.

    ‒ Couldn't the war have made him close his emotions like that? What factors, besides social norms, influence the formation of the future author of violence?

    ‒ Personal stories, trauma, pain: the death of relatives and friends, for example. If by this moment the human psyche was already predisposed to closeness, he will not be able to fully enter into this pain, survive it in order to get out of the crisis emotionally alive and wiser, but will become more and more unyielding, rigid, closed in himself. A lot of energy is spent on keeping feelings under control. When a person is faced with current stress, these forces may not be enough - then feelings break out. So yes, personal history matters. But not everyone who was at war or in serious trials becomes the authors of violence. Some people are helped by principles and beliefs, some have consciously undergone rehabilitation themselves.

    - You mentioned instrumental violence - when a person beats not in a state of passion, but calmly, with a full sense of his rightness. Can something be done about these? And is it necessary?

    ‒ Still, not completely calm, rather, we are talking about the predominance of calculation over feeling. But the latter is not cancelled. Here, external influence is much more significant than in working with "affectives". In such cases, destructive aggression can only be stopped by applying adequate sanctions. Crime is punishment. And then psychological work is possible, but it is more difficult, because the motivation for it comes from outside, and it is not known whether a person still has humanistic values ​​that can stimulate him to search for an alternative to violence. The complexity of instrumental violence is that a person consciously created and designed the situation. Why should he change? Perhaps these people believe that their methods are effective. Then sometimes it is necessary to rely precisely on an analysis of effectiveness that is as rational as the actual violence itself.

    Fear Factor

    ‒ A year ago, a government commission on juvenile affairs proposed opening crisis centers in Russia for men who were once convicted of abusing their loved ones. The comments on this news, which I met on the net, were mostly negative: “the hunchbacked grave will be corrected”, “there is nothing to help the “freaks””, “it is better to increase assistance to the victims”. What can be said to justify this initiative?

    ‒ Such comments come from a lack of understanding of the situation. People think that we are talking about some isolated egregious cases of violence. Although this is a much more common phenomenon and it is closer to our everyday life than is commonly believed. But they do not think about it, and behind themselves they may not notice the violence. Programs like ours provide a chance to save relationships, family. Although this is not an end in itself. The main thing is to stop the violence. After working with a psychologist, a person can really understand a lot about himself, repent, and most importantly, change his behavior. After all, who are we not to forgive?

    ‒ How to understand that your partner is a potential author of violence? What should alert in his behavior?

    ‒ Firstly, if you have experienced at least a one-time episode of violence, then the person is prone to it. If there are no obvious manifestations, then I would trust my inner feeling more. How do you feel with this person? Are you always safe and comfortable with him? You should not close your eyes to the fact that sometimes it is scary, uncomfortable with a person. Don't be fooled, be honest. If it seems to you that you are being "covered", communication with friends is stopped, your hobbies are being sacrificed, your lifestyle is changing - these are alarming symptoms. You can try discussing this with your partner. If a person is prone to violence, then he will dismiss the question, will not even talk about it. If he thought about it, if he does not want you to feel uncomfortable in his company, then all is not lost.

    - The same question can be asked from the point of view of the author of violence. How can I understand that I am becoming one?

    - For example, you suddenly come across the fact that you are afraid. But it is important to understand why this is happening. Maybe it’s just that I have a gangster appearance, but in my soul I’m kind-hearted - “terrible on the face, kind inside”? In this case, with the continuation of the acquaintance, the fear will pass. Or maybe I'm crossing someone's borders? My wife once noticed that I put a glass on the table with a bang, and she shudders. I didn’t even pay attention to it, but I had to develop a new skill. If people are afraid of something in your behavior, there is reason to think.

    ‒ What is the role of the victim in the behavior of the abuser, in other words, is there a “set of character traits” of the victim that makes it easier for the spouse to turn into a domestic abuser? Or will a person capable of such a thing prove himself anyway?

    ‒ To say that the behavior of the victim leads to violence is to justify the perpetrator.

    Learn more