RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE – can you recognize it?
See if you agree with any of the following statements:
- A person who experiences violence is often to blame for the violence to which he or she is exposed.
- Persuasion to have sex is a sign of love.
- There is no true love without jealousy.
- Men cannot be victims of sexual violence.
- One slap can happen and is unlikely to happen again.
- He / she will treat me differently than others.
These statements are WRONG BELIEFS that seek to justify violence.
THE TRUTH IS:
- There is no justification for violence, the victim is never guilty for the violence experienced and the perpetrator is always responsible.
- Persuasion to sexual intercourse is manipulation to realize one’s own desires. Love is expressed by respecting partner’s desires and personal boundaries. Sexual intercourse without the consent of another person is a criminal offense.
- A relationship between two people should be based on mutual respect, trust, and tenderness. Jealousy and controlling a partner are not an integral part of the relationship, but a reflection of insecurity, mistrust, and a desire to establish power and control over the other person.
- Men can be victims of sexual violence. In these cases, the perpetrators are also mostly men.
- A person who behaves violently in this way tries to gain power and control in the relationship, but in fact thus shows his / her inability to solve differently the problems he / she feels exist in the relationship. Therefore, it is very likely that such person will behave violently again in a situation where he / she does not know how to solve a certain problem.
- A person who is violent towards others is unlikely to treat you differently. Violence is that person’s answer to problems (the only one that person knows) and it is very likely that such person will start using it to “solve” problems in your relationship as well.
Types of relationship violence
Violence in youth relationships can be defined as behaviour that aims to establish control and power and intimidate another person. It can be physical, emotional or mental, sexual, and economic.
- Physical violence refers to various forms of physical abuse, and includes slapping, pushing, hitting with hands, legs, and objects, pulling hair, bites, burns, and results in bodily injuries.
- Emotional / psychological violence includes threats, prohibitions, stalking and movement control, preventing conversations and going out with friends, possessive and jealous behaviour, abusive comments, ridicule, destruction of things.
- Sexual violence refers to unwanted sexual touching, persuasion or use of blackmail to consent to sexual intercourse, coercion to sexual intercourse or sexual behaviour that a person does not want, exploitation of a person’s alcohol intoxication to have sexual intercourse.
- Economic violence refers to taking money, preventing a partner from finding a job, complaining about given presents and blackmail.
Stages of a violent relationship
Most perpetrators apologize for violent behaviour when they “cool down”, which often gives the victim at least initial hope that such behaviour will not happen again. However, this is not true. After the first incident, violence typically becomes more frequent, and the abused person increasingly loses control of his or her life, feels ashamed, and loses contact with friends. Violence often happens in a vicious circle, the bully promises to change, which does not happen, and he / she reacts the same way in each new conflict. The abused person often tries to completely change his / her behaviour in order to please the abuser and avoid conflicts, however, the abuser always finds new reasons for conflict and violent behaviour.
If you are in a violent relationship, the only way to stop the cycle of violence is to seek help and report the violence.
How to recognize violence in a relationship
- Calls his / her partner different derogatory names (for example “stupid”, “idiot” etc.) when they are together or insults and belittles him / her in front of others.
- Behaves very jealously in front of others, shows “ownership”.
- Finds excuses for his / her violent behaviour and constantly justifies him / her in front of others.
- Always checks where the partner is, who he / she is with, and requires that he / she know at all times what he / she is doing.
- He / she often loses temper, maybe even hits or smashes objects when angry.
- Takes care not to anger the partner or provoke his / her anger.
- Often gives up things that used to be important to him / her, such as hanging out and going out with friends or engaging in an activity and becomes more and more isolated and focused only on his / her partner.
- There are injuries, wounds that a victim cannot explain, or the explanations provided are “transparent” and unconvincing.
What can I do?
You need to react, whether you are in a violent relationship yourself, or you notice that it is happening to your friend. Do not be silent because by being silent you are only supporting further violence. You can seek help and talk to someone you trust: a friend, a teacher, a doctor, a parent, or some other trusted adult around you.
You can also seek professional help in the following associations and institutions:
- Police (192)
- Social Welfare Centre
- Polyclinic for Protection of Children of the City of Zagreb (01/345 75 18)
- “Hrabri telefon” – “Brave phone” NGO (116 111)
- “Plavi telefon” – “Blue phone” NGO (01/48 33 888)
- Centre for Children, Youth and Family Modus (01/46 21 554)
- Parents’ association “Step by Step” (01/4855 578)