Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, April 30, 2016
10 WARNING SIGNS OF WORD SALAD
This article is from a later chapter of the Psychopath Free book (click to view on Amazon).
When they’re feeling threatened or bored, psychopaths will often use what’s called “word salad” in an attempt to keep your mind occupied. Basically, it’s a conversation from hell. They aren’t actually saying anything at all. They’re just talking at you. Before you can even respond to one outrageous statement, they’re already on to the next. You’ll be left with your head spinning. Study the warning signs, and disengage before any damage can be done:
1. Circular conversations
You’ll think you worked something out, only to begin discussing it again in two minutes. And it’s as if you never even said a word the first time around. They begin reciting all of the same tired garbage, ignoring any legitimate arguments you may have provided moments ago. If something is going to be resolved, it will be on their terms. With psychopaths, the same issues will come up over and over again—why are they so friendly with their ex again? Why are they suddenly not paying any attention to you? Why do they sound so eager to get off the phone? And every time you bring up these issues, it’s as if you never even had the argument in the past. You get sucked back in, only to feel crazy & high-maintenance when they decide “I’m sick of always arguing about this.” It’s a merry-go-round.
2. Bringing up your past wrongdoings & ignoring their own
If you point out something nasty they're doing—like ignoring you or cheating—they’ll mention something totally unrelated from the past that you’ve done wrong. Did you used to drink too much? Well then, their cheating isn’t really all that bad compared to your drinking problem. Were you late to your first date two years ago? Well then, you can’t complain about them ignoring you for three days straight. And God forbid you bring up any of their wrongdoings. Then, you are a bitter lunatic with a list of grievances.
3. Condescending & patronizing tone
The entire conversation will have this calm, cool demeanor. It’s almost as if they’re mocking you, gaging your reactions to see how much further they can push. When you finally react emotionally, that’s when they’ll tell you to calm down, raise their eyebrows, smirk, or feign disappointment. The whole point of word salad is to make you unhinged, and therefore give them the upper hand. Because remember, conversations are competitions—just like anything else with a psychopath.
4. Accusing you of doing things that they themselves are doing
I mentioned this in the previous section about psychopaths putting you on the defense. In heated arguments, psychopaths have no shame. They will begin labeling you with their own horrible qualities. It goes beyond projection, because most people project unknowingly. Psychopaths know they are smearing you with their own flaws, and they are seeking a reaction. After all, how can you not react to such blatant hypocrisy?
5. Multiple personas
Through the course of a word salad conversation, you’re likely to experience a variety of their personalities. It’s sort of like good cop, bad cop, demented cop, stalker cop, scary cop, baby cop. If you’re pulling away, sick of their abuse and lies, they will restore a glimpse of the idealize phase. A little torture to lure you back in with promises of marriage and children. If that doesn’t work, suddenly they’ll start insulting the things they once idealized. You’ll be left wondering who you’re even talking to, because his personas are imploding as they struggle to regain control. Our beloved administrator, Victoria, summed this up perfectly: “The devil himself was unleashed in a desperate fit of fury after being recognized: twisting, turning, writhing, spewing, flattering, sparkling, vomiting.”
6. The eternal victim
Somehow their cheating and lying will always lead back to a conversation about their abusive past or a crazy ex. You will end up feeling bad for them, even when they've done something horribly wrong. You will instead use it as an opportunity to bond with them over their supposed complex feelings. And once they have successfully averted your attention elsewhere, everything will go back to the way it was. No bonding or deep spiritual connection whatsoever. Psychopaths cry “abuse”—but in the end, you are the one left with nothing.
7. You begin explaining basic human emotions
You find yourself explaining things like “empathy” and “feelings” and “being nice”. Normal adults do not need to be taught the golden rules from kindergarten. You are not the first person who has attempted to see the good in them, and you will not be the last. You think to yourself, “if they can just understand why I’m hurt, then they’ll stop doing it.” But they won’t. They wouldn’t have done it in the first place if they were a decent human being. The worst part is, they pretended to be decent when you first met—sucking you in with this sweet, caring persona. They know how to be kind & good, but they find it boring.
Everyone messes up every now and then, but psychopaths recite excuses more often than they actually follow through with promises. Their actions never match up with their words. You are disappointed so frequently that you feel relieved when they do something decent—they condition you to become grateful for the mediocre.
9. “What in the world just happened”
These conversations leave you drained. You will be left with an actual headache. You will spend hours, even days, obsessing over the argument. You’ll feel as if you exhausted all of your emotional energy to accomplish absolutely nothing. You will have a million pre-planned arguments in your head, ready to respond to all the unaddressed points that you couldn’t keep up with. You will feel the need to defend yourself. You’ll try to come up with a diplomatic solution that evenly distributes the blame, and therefore gives you both a chance to apologize and make up. But in the end, you’ll find that you’re the only one apologizing.
SOURCE (check out this great site!)
Friday, April 29, 2016
How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother
Does your mother try to tell you how to live your life?
Or scrutinize every decision you make?
1. Realize there are reasons why your mother is overbearing and that you won't ever be able to change her. The operative word is "deal."
2. Work on establishing boundaries immediately. Decide which aspects of your life you won't share with your mother, then remind her when she invades them. If boundaries will not work; go No Contact with her and get far far away.
3. Learn this phrase and repeat it often: "I love you, but I don't want to discuss that with you." Then change the subject when your mother begins to meddle.
4. If possible, consider writing your mother a letter, detailing how you'd like your relationship to evolve (and which aspects can go extinct like the dinosaurs).
5. Thank your mother for her suggestions on how to live your life, then move on to more stimulating conversation.
6. Strive to seek approval from yourself instead of from your mother. When you're self-confident, your mother's controlling tendencies won't get under your skin.
7. Opt for caller ID so you can be prepared for potentially overbearing conversations - or screen the call to measure the importance of her message.
8. Try to call her back within a day; controlling mothers are fueled by neglect, and you can avoid possible nagging with a prompt call back.
9. Appreciate the fact that someone cares so much about you that they need to call you before, during and after every small event in your life.
10. Refrain from any guilt your overbearing mother may try to trip you up with. No one should feel guilty for living their own life.
Ignore the gnawing suspicion that your mother is trying to live her life through you. Even if she is, the urge to control is her baggage to carry, not yours.
If your mother persists in knocking down your boundaries, consider seeking therapy. You may need to go No Contact immediately if your mother is a narcissistic-type; because they can not change.
See Also ACON, ADULT CHILDREN OF NARCISSISTS
FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS
Thursday, April 28, 2016
How Abusers Stage Their Returns
While the smooth talk that it takes to get an abused spouse to take them back varies from person to person, there are five major "strategies" that seem to cover most of the wide range of tactics used by abusive partners:
The Honeymoon Syndrome
Also known as "Hearts and Flowers", this can include any bribe that will get you to return - and the sooner the better. Common bribes include promises to get therapy, promises not to be violent again (even after a long history), and even calculated doses of praise for you; saying things like "I know I don't deserve you, but if you'll take me back..."
Super Parent Syndrome
This is a very common ploy, especially if your partner has neglected the children in the past. An abuser might promise to start being a good parent, or might remind you how good they already are with the children. Many victims stay in abusive relationships because they believe that it's better for the children, but children are more aware than we give them credit for - and they know that abuse is occurring.
In healthy parenting, children get to see both parents working together toward positive interactions for the whole family. When you stay with an abuser for the sake of the children, you are really slowly destroying one half of their parenting system - yourself - thus robbing your children of the true and healthy "you" that SHOULD be in their futures and replacing it with the you that continues to be abused over time. Additionally, children depend on you to be able to do your job where they are concerned. This means they expect you to nourish them, protect them, and properly socialize them. Part of protecting them not only means DIRECTLY protecting them, but also protecting their protector - YOU. Finally, a parent will always be a parent - even in the event of seperation or divorce. A truely loving parent will continue to be a truely loving parent regardless of the shape and structure of the family. So before you cling to the promises of super parent abusers, consider carefully what is really in the long term best interests of your children.
"I have been going to church every Sunday since you left." "I have accepted religion into my life." That's great, but so what? The real question is: has the violence stopped? Don't believe that just because someone spent an hour with their butt in a pew on a Sunday morning that violence and other abuse can't still be right around the corner. If you look at the massive amounts of literature directed at faith groups teaching them how to identify and respond to abusive relationships in their congregations, you'd quickly realize exactly how many "god-fearing" persons abuse, rape, beat and murder their partners. Even pastors! (Oprah did a great show on domestic violence featuring a pastor who murdered his wife of 22 years because they argued over money and his unwillingness to get treatment for depression.)
Whether it's drugs or alcohol, abusers have a higher incidence of substance use than the general population. Most substance-using abusers know that they have a substance abuse problem, or, they are aware that YOU believe they have a problem, even if they are in denial themselves. In the panic of facing losing their relationships, many will suddenly "see the light" and swear to you that they'll never touch it again. You'll want to hear it. You'll want to believe it. You'll want to support this effort. And you should! BUT...don't just hear the words and breathe a sigh of relief. Actions speak louder than words and substance abuse and addiction is one of the hardest things to overcome by oneself.
Withdraw from chronic alcohol use, heroin, cigarettes and even caffiene can cause vomiting, nausea, paranoia and other unpleasant symptoms. When an abusive partner opens the door to getting sober, stick your foot in that door and help them to get MORE help - encourage them to talk to their doctor, to join a support group, to get substance abuse therapy, etc. Counseling, support and therapy for substance abuse problems will address underlying problems and issues and help abusers to substitute healthier behaviors for their destructive coping mechanisms. Unless and until you see a substance using abuser actively participating in sobriety with OUTSIDE HELP, don't fall for just the promise! (this applies to sex addicts as well - PSYCHOLOGICAL/PSYCHIATRIC help is a MUST with an addiction!)
This is both a tactic to get you to stay and a tactic to maintain control and intimidation. On this web site and others, you'll hear over and over again that abusers don't just stop their behavior without assistance to overcome issues and replace destructive behavior with healthy ones. Therapy is no exception.
Friends, family, pastors and even abusers might suggest couples counseling to you. Although they may have the best of intentions, couples counseling is NOT the solution to combat the behaviors of an abuser! Many abusers actually like the idea of couples counseling because it means that THEY don't have to take responsibility for their actions- instead, they get to drag you in as part of the problem.
With your abuser sitting next to you in a counseling session, you are not emotionally free to say what you think without fear of repercussion, without the abuser twisting your words, and without them trying to coach you along as what to say or not to say. Safe, effective and appropriate counseling for batterers and abusers must be done WITHOUT the victim present. Batterers must take responsibility for their actions, must understand and admit that THEY have a problem and be dedicated to the self-examination process to make positive long term changes possible.
Couples counseling to combat domestic violence SOUNDS like a great idea, but it's false advertising and can prolong and expand the emotional abuses that already exist.
The problem with all of these things is that in no case, no way, no how, does ANYTHING excuse or "make up" for the fact that a partner batters you! If you donate a million dollars to charity, it doesn't give you the right to go out and shoot someone. Similarly, don't fall into the trap of letting a partner BUY their way out of violence in the relationship. Unless and until a battering partner owns up to their responsibility and gets some outside help to change their behavior, your relationship, your children, and your family are neither healthy nor SAFE.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
What About My Pets?
Another Reason Women Don't Leave
I recently received an email from someone who reminded me of another reason why women don't leave abusive situations. They are afraid for the lives of their pets. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a 1997 study of the largest battered women's shelters in 48 states revealed that workers at 85 percent of those shelters had heard reports from women about incidents of animal abuse. And abusers often torture the human members of the family by hurting or killing pets, right in front of the other members of the family.
In fact, some abusers use animals to 'practice' hurting humans. In these situations the pet often becomes a sort of hostage - it is safe as long as the woman stays and obeys.
In an ideal world, there would be shelters that include pets, or safe places to place pets when anyone flees an abusive situation. Advocates are working with animals shelters and veterinarians to find a solution to this problem.
The priorities in our society make things even worse. There are not enough shelters for battered women in this country, and the prospect for improvement in the immediate future is dim. So the shelters are full, and animals are usually not permitted.
In the last ten years, more attention has been paid to the fact that violent people often manifest themselves first in violence against animals. Many states have passed laws that make cruelty to animals a felony offense. Women's rights advocates will relate, with bitter irony, that being cruel to an animal is a felony, while being cruel to a woman is only a misdemeneanor. But if you can get past that irony, the animal protection laws can be used to a woman's advantage.
The main problem with domestic violence laws is that a batterer can beat up his wife or girlfriend several times before the law gets annoyed. But if the batterer harms the family pet, the batterer can be arrested on a felony charge.
In many ways, our society at the present time values animals more than it values women and children. Humane Societies may be more prevalent in a state than women's shelters, often with more reliable funding. Please understand that I am not denigrating Humane Societies; that's where I get my cats. I am suggesting that the Humane Society can be a valuable ally that can partner with women's shelters.
If you are in a violent situation where your pet is being used as a hostage, the first step is still the same: call a hotline to get help. The advocates you reach will know the laws in your state and can help to find shelter for your pets too.
The Humane Society of the United States has a program called First Strike. There is information at their website for setting up an organization in your community. The woman who reminded me of this problem runs a website called Friends of Pets. And at DMOZ.org, there are thousands of websites listed that can help.
Ask when you call a shelter if they allow pets, or know a program in your area that will take care of your pet until your situation stabilizes. Family members and friends can be a good resource too. There may be county workers that investigate reports of animal cruelty who has ideas about sheltering your pets. I once worked with a women who has dozens of animals, including chickens and a horse. We found another women who had survived battering, had remarried and lived on a hobby farm. This survivor was happy to shelter all the women's animals while the first woman recovered.
Be sure to talk to your advocate about an Order for Protection, which can protect your animals as well as you. And as always, your best source for ideas, support, resources, and brainstorming if your local women's crisis center. The more we publicize issues like this one, the more attention it will receive. And perhaps we'll change the world.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Why Do Psychopaths Target Married or "Taken" Individuals?
Sunday, April 24, 2016
THE GRAY ROCK METHOD OF DEALING WITH NARCISSISTS, SOCIOPATHS and PSYCHOPATHS
(the term 'psychopath' is used here but can be interchangeable with narcissist or sociopath)
When dealing with malignant narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, borderlines, drama queens, stalkers and other emotional vampires, it’s commonly advised that no response is the best response to unwanted attention. This is often true and No Contact (the avoidance of all communication) should be used whenever possible.
There are some situations however, when No Contact is not feasible, as in when you share child custody with a psychopath. As another example, if you are being stalked by an ex, a restraining order can infuriate the unwanted suitor, and refusing to respond to him or her is seen as an insult. They might become convinced that they can MAKE you respond and in that way satiate their need for power over you.
Furthermore, many of us have tried to end a relationship with a psychopath several times, only to take them back, each time. They turned on the pity ploy and the charm, and because we didn’t understand that this is what a psychopath does, we fell for their promises to change. They know all of our emotional hooks. For them, it’s easy and fun to lure us back by appealing to our emotions. But a psychopath can’t change. In fact, when you leave a psychopath, he becomes determined to punish you even more severely for thinking you could be autonomous.
Even if we don’t take them back, the most dangerous time for a person is when they first break up with a psychopath. The psychopath feels rage at being discarded. Losing control or power over a person is not just a narcissistic injury for them; they feel profoundly empty when their partner leaves them — even if they had intended to kill their partner. The reason is because they have lost control. Psychopaths need to feel in control at all times.
For all these situations, we have Gray Rock.
What it is:
So, how do we escape this parasitical leech without triggering his vindictive rage? Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama.
Psychopaths are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, he will find a new person to provide drama and he will find himself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the psychopath to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit — you bore him and he can’t stand boredom.
What it’s for:
Making a psychopath go away of his own volition is one application of Gray Rock. One might say that Gray Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me.” excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.
Another reason to use Gray Rock is to avoid becoming a target in the first place. If you find yourself in the company of one or more narcissistic personalities — perhaps you work with them or they are members of your family — it’s important to avoid triggering their ENVY. By using Gray Rock, you fade into the background. It’s possible they won’t even remember having met you. If you have already inadvertently attracted their attention and they have already begun to focus in on you, you can still use Gray Rock. Tell them you are boring. Describe a boring life. Talk about the most mundane household chores you accomplished that day — in detail. Some people are naturally lacking in dramatic flair. Find those people and try to hang around them when the psychopath is nearby.
If you must continue a relationship with a psychopath, Gray Rock can serve you as well. Parents sharing joint custody with a psychopathic ex-spouse can use Gray Rock when the ex-spouse tries to trigger their emotions. I acknowledge that any threat to the well-being of our children is overwhelmingly anxiety provoking. Here is where Gray Rock can be applied selectively to draw attention away from what really matters to you. In general, show no emotion to the offending behaviors or words. The psychopath will try different tactics to see which ones get a reaction. With Selective Gray Rock, you choose to respond to the tactic which matters least to you. This will focus the psychopath’s attention on that issue. Remember, the psychopath has no values, so he doesn’t understand what is valuable to us — unless we show him. Selective Gray Rock shows him a decoy.
When protecting our children, we can take a lesson from nature: Bird parents who have fledglings are known to feign a broken wing when a predator is in the vicinity. They fake a vulnerability to detract the cat’s attention from their real vulnerability, their babies. In this example, Selective Gray Rock fades all emotions into the background except the ones you want the predator to see.
A psychopath is easily bored. He or she needs constant stimulation to ward off boredom. It isn’t the type of boredom that normal people experience; it’s more like the French word, ennui, which refers to an oppressive boredom or listlessness. Drama is a psychopath’s remedy for boredom. For drama, they need an audience and some players. Once the drama begins, they feel complete and alive again. They are empowered when pulling the strings that elicit our emotions. Any kind of emotions will do, as long as it is a response to their actions.
A psychopath is an addict. He is addicted to power. His power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. He is keenly aware of this and needs to constantly test to make sure we are still under his control. He needs to know that we are still eager to do his bidding, make him happy and avoid his wrath. He needs to create drama so he can experience the power of manipulating our emotions. As with any addiction, it is exhilarating to the psychopath when he gets his supply of emotional responses. The more times he experiences a reward for his dramatic behavior, the more addicted he becomes. Conversely, when the reward stops coming, he becomes agitated. He experiences oppressive boredom and he will counter it by creating more drama. If we stay the course and show no emotions, the psychopath will eventually decide that his toy is broken. It doesn’t squirt emotions when he squeezes it anymore! Most likely, he will slither away to find a new toy.
The Gray Rock technique does come with a caveat: psychopaths are dangerous people, if you are in a relationship with one that has already decided to kill you, it will be difficult to change his mind. He may already be poisoning you or sabotaging your vehicle. Take all necessary precautions. In this case, Gray Rock can only hope to buy time until you can make your escape.
How it works:
Psychopaths are attracted to shiny, pretty things that move fast and to bright lights. These things, signal excitement and relieve the psychopath’s ever-present ennui. Your emotional responses are his food of choice, but they aren’t the only things he wants.
He envies everything pretty, shiny and sparkly that you have and he wants whatever you value. You must hide anything that he will notice and envy. If you happen to be very good looking, you need to change that during this time. Use makeup to add bags under your eyes. If you aren’t married to the psychopath, any money or assets he covets should disappear “in a bad investment decision” (consult with your attorney on this). Your shiny sports car has to go, get a beater. If you have a sparkling reputation, anticipate that he will or has already begun to slander you; therefore, don’t allow yourself to be put into any compromising position or pushed into erratic behavior. The reason he wants to take these things from you, is not necessarily because he wants them for himself, it’s because he wants to see the emotions on your face when you lose them. He wants the power trip associated with being the one who took them from you. By preemptively removing these things from his vision and not reacting with emotion at the losses, you continue to train him with the idea that you are the most boring person on earth, someone he would never want to be.
Origin of Gray Rock:
In 2009, I left my psychopathic partner after 25 years, but I didn’t understand what was wrong with him. I sat in a sushi bar, lost in confusion, when a tall, athletic man introduced himself. To my own surprise, I instinctively poured out my story to him. This complete stranger listened to my story and then he explained to me that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. He advised me, “Be boring.” He told me that his girlfriend would come home each night, begin drinking and become abusive.
They were both professionals who traveled in the same professional circles. He knew that she would stalk him if he broke up with her and he didn’t want to risk the slander and drama which could leak out and damage his professional reputation.
His solution was to be so boring that she would simply leave him. He declined to go out on evenings and weekends. He showed no emotional reaction about anything, no interest in anything and responded with no drama. When she asked if he wanted to go out for dinner, his reply was, “I don’t know.” After a few months of no drama, she simply moved out.
Why is it called Gray Rock?
I chose the words Gray Rock because I needed an object for us to channel when we are in an emotionally charged situation. You don’t just practice Gray Rock, you BECOME a Gray Rock. There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery.
That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. The stranger in the sushi bar showed great insight when he advised me to “be boring.” He struck at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.
In nature, there are many plants and creatures that show us how to survive in a world of predators. Among others, birds feign injury to protect their babies and mice play dead until the cat loses interest.
Both of these tactics can be useful and they can be channeled when applicable. Yet, it’s difficult to calculate each and every move that a psychopath will make and to determine the best course of action each time. Instead of trying to out-think him, channel the gray rock. This simple, humble object in nature has all the wisdom it needs to avoid being noticed, it’s boring.
Copyright © 2012 Skylar
Saturday, April 23, 2016
When Enough is Enough
Would you believe that love can be gone in a blink of an eye? Based on facts that I am going to share with you is that it CAN happen. A couple who has been together for a few years would just one day wake up and realize that they no longer love their partner. It’s like, she slept tonight, and the next morning she doesn’t feel anything for her partner anymore.
Why is this so? Of course, we need to know what caused these kinds of things to happen. But, what we are going to state here are just observations from different relationships of people.
First, there might be a possibility that a couple of more than seven years and hasn’t married yet CAN be TIRED of one another. In the case of the woman, she must have expected to be married at that time but the man hasn’t asked her yet, so there is the tendency to think that they won’t ever be married at all, so instead of waiting longer years the woman finally decides of leaving the man for someone who will marry her sooner. Or it can also be that either person could be tired of doing the same things as what we call routine. If things go by this way there is a larger possibility that they would think of their married life to be as boring as that of their existing relationship. So, they decide to leave each other, in hopes of finding someone who would really make them happy again.
Another reason could be the person’s attitude towards the partner. The situation I am going to give you mostly happens with some couples. This couple has been with each other for more than five years. Their friends see them as a happy couple whenever they’re together. But little did they know was that behind the happy and cheerful couple they see during parties it wasn’t so. The man is a perfectionist and the woman is timid. Every single day of her life, the man kept on discouraging her, telling her bad things, making her feel bad about herself from head to toe (physically and emotionally). Not just with her job, but even the friends she have, the clothes she wears, the never-ending badmouth of this man made the woman feel like she was the ugliest person on earth. Until one day, the man left her. She cried at first but realized that she was actually free from the chains of a very abusive person who made her life miserable most of the time. Instead of harvesting beautiful memories that they both shared, the one remembered were the ugly ones. In a span of a few months, she found someone who uplifted her spirits and made her into a new and beautiful person inside out.
The man tried to win back the woman but he failed. Now, you see in this kind of relationship, there is no growth. This is a very UNHEALTHY relationship, wherein negativity rung around it. One abusive word should have been stopped if the woman stood up for herself instead of accepting every single bad word she hears from the man. Every individual should always remember that “No one should put you down.” Put a stop to it, what seems to be wrong in this relationship was that the woman kept on accepting and keeping quiet and never even tried to tell what she really feels. Or we could also assume that the woman tries to tell the man, but it so happened that the man is stronger than the woman and sort of over powers her or doesn’t listen to whatever she says. If your boyfriend is like this for years and years you better leave him. He is just one selfish schmuck who thinks only of himself. Relationships like this should be done. Don’t wait for a couple of years before getting out of it. Think now! Do you want a life like this?
In relation to the example given about abusive words, we will also include physical abuse. If a man hits you and says he’s sorry after and then you forgive him, that’s a big no no! Because once you accepted the first sorry, you’ll always accept the hits and blows and whatever physical injury you might have. At the first time this happens, report it to the police. If in case the man always pulls you or grabs you by the shoulder and it leaves a bruise that is already physical abuse. Don’t ever let anyone hurt you. If a man truly loves a woman he would never hurt you, but will always be patient. That is why some women leave their partners too. Some of them endure the years of being beaten up by their partners and when they’ve had enough, that’s just the time they leave them. Others who hasn’t had enough even die because of the beatings they get from their husbands. Women, do you like this to happen to you?
This next case is quite different. This couple is totally happy. Even their friends would say that they really are a great couple when they’re together. Always having fun and always complementing each other. Then one day, the man just leaves the woman without a valid reason. Now, how would you react to that? If you were the woman, what would you think? Let’s say for example, the woman is very understanding, always cares for the man, and all the good things this woman could offer. I could say that maybe the man has a problem that he has kept for a long time, that he didn’t tell the woman. Most men has problems opening up to the person they love or sometimes to people who are really close to them. Unlike women, they can easily share their problems to their friends, thus letting the emotions out of them, unlike men. In cases like these, don’t give up on your man. Try to clear things out with him so that you won’t be left open-mouthed when this kind of thing happens to you. If he doesn’t want to talk about it maybe he needs space or time to think of his problems on his own and maybe he wants to solve it. Give it a week or two for your man to come back and apologize. But if in case he never calls you anymore and has vanished into thin air, accept the fact that he has already left you because he’s ready to go into some kind of Looney bin. Although, you have to make sure that there is no third party involved because if there is another woman involved that’s a case closed, find another man who is not a womanizer!
Women apparently are patient in nature. They tend to make sacrifices and try to be patient with their partner. They keep on trying to continue the relationship until they have had enough. Oftentimes, some of them become martyrs wherein it already takes them a couple of years before they realize that it is enough. If you are in a situation like these examples given, think for yourself. Is that a healthy relationship you are in? Did you try everything you can before you quit the relationship?
Women should know when to stop and when to try to make things right. You choose you own life and you make your own destiny. Learn to fight and be strong because only you can help yourself.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Couldn’t Be! Do "Alleged" Abusers Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt?
JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse Free Environment
Victims of abuse often face great doubts and skepticism when they speak out against their perpetrators. One of the most insidious reasons for these doubts is that abusers are most often people who are well known to their victims and to the family, friends or community officials to whom the revelations are made. The accusations are met with incredulousness. Perpetrators can be anyone: husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and siblings; rabbis and teachers; doctors and therapists; counselors, coaches and neighbors. This familiarity is not only a factor in the reaction of others, but it is a significant obstacle for the victim herself as she contemplates revealing the abuse and asking for the help and support she needs.
At first glance, Jewish law seems to support this approach. The famous Mishnah in Pirke Avot brings R. Yehoshua ben Perahyah’s teaching, “Ve-hevei dan et kol ha-adam le-kaf zekhut—Judge everyone favorably.”1 Likewise, it is forbidden to be hoshed be-kesherim, suspicious of those who have unblemished reputations.2 In fact, we are promised that if we give others the benefit of the doubt, God Himself will act towards us in the same manner.3
The Talmud illustrates the importance of judging others favorably by recounting three innocent situations that might easily have raised concerns of inappropriate behavior. The first is about an employer who did not pay his employee the wages he was owed, claiming that he had no money, no land, no cattle, and no crop. When questioned about this, the employee said that he assumed that his employer had nothing with which to pay him because his employer had invested all his assests, had leased his lands and cattle, and had not yet tithed his produce. The second story is about a prominent rabbi who, after redeeming a young woman who had been taken hostage, had her sleep at his feet on the road home. When questioned, his students related that they did not suspect their teacher of any inappropriate behavior but that they assumed that he did this in order to protect her from those who might take advantage of her. And the third story recounts the activities of Rabbi Yehoshua who entered the home of a Roman matron by himself, closing the door and secreting himself with her. His students assumed that their teacher had important private matters to discuss with her. These generous, innocent and uncritical assumptions proved to be the correct in each of the cases.4
Why Judge Favorably?
There are a number of reasons why it is proper to give people the benefit of the doubt. One is that the biblical injunction “be-tzedek tishpot et ‘amitekhah” which refers to the judicial obligation, “you shall judge your neighbor with righteousness,” also is interpreted to mean “you shall judge your neighbor as righteous.” Society’s interests are served not only by advancing the cause of justice but by furthering the integrity and innocence of each and every one of its members.
Another reason is based on the principle of hazakah, a legal theory that enshrines the status quo and enables us to make certain presumptions about people and their behavior—they are presumed to be as they have always been. Because Jewish law presumes that the status quo continues until it is demonstrated to be otherwise (this is the principle of hazakah), every person has a hezkat kashrut and is to be considered innocent until proven guilty.5 One formulation of this hazakah posits that since people are born guiltless and honest, they continue to be so.6 A second formulation focuses on the established behavior of a good person. His previous behavior patterns have established a presumption that all his actions are good and noble.7 A variation of this argument focuses on a different, yet related, principle. It looks not at the character of this particular person or on his actions, but on the character of Jews in general. Since the rov (the majority) of Jews behave in good and noble ways, the odds are that this person is part of that majority. Thus, we judge him and his actions favorably.8 It is also possible that we are swayed by the rov of a person’s actions. Since he generally behaves appropriately, we must assume that any specific behavior is proper.9
Another approach that explains the requirement of judging others favorably suggests that in considering suspicious behavior we are to assume that we do not know the entire story, that we do not properly understand another’s motivations, or that the unseemly act may have merely been an innocent mistake.10 In fact, we are warned not to judge another “until we have been in his place.”11 And even when we observe unquestionable misconduct by a Torah scholar, a person whose piety and conduct are presumed to be beyond reproach, we must assume that he has immediately repented for his misdeeds.12
Another reason for a person to give others the benefit of the doubt is that this attitude is the key to maintaining good interpersonal relationships. After all, it is not uncommon for those who live in close proximity to each other to say or do things that may be perceived as slights or insults; relationships suffer. Doubt, resentment and suspicion are not uncommon. Unless we are generous in our judgment and forgiving in our dealings, disagreement with our friends and alienation from them are possible. Consequently, giving another the benefit of the doubt ensures the integrity of familial and communal relationships.13 R. Avraham Yitzhak Kook explained that disputes arise because we do not know another person’s thoughts and motivations. However, he writes, by giving others the benefit of the doubt, peaceful relations will result.14
Others see this principle as a means of protecting one’s own moral integrity. Favorable judgment impacts one’s own perspective of the world, training him to see only the good and noble, and denying evil. Such an approach inspires a positive and optimistic world view in which, ultimately, all people are good and all people do good things. This protects him from the pernicious influence of evil activities and immorality.15 Favorable judgment also helps focus a person’s attention not on the failings of others, but on his own weaknesses and flaws, and can serve as a catalyst for introspection, self-growth, and repentance.16
Judging Favorably: Obligation or Meritorious Act?
There is a difference of opinion as to whether one is obligated to judge others favorably17 or whether doing so is just an ethical act.18 Furthermore, there is a dispute as to whether we have to judge everyone in this manner19 or whether our favorable judgment is due only to the religious elite.20 Rambam is of the opinion that, as a matter of law, righteous people must always be given the benefit of the doubt and that wicked people must always be judged negatively, regardless of the apparent nature of any particular action. He applies R. Yehoshua ben Perahyah’s teaching—hevei dan le-kaf zekhut—only to actions of people who are beinonim, neither wicked nor righteous.21 Others apply this principle to strangers, those whose characters are unknown to us and thus we have no context by which to make assumptions about their behavior.22 Maharam Shik and Avodat Yisrael, in their commentaries to Pirke Avot, limit its application to those individuals mentioned in the Mishnah—friends and teachers.
- Do these principles mean that those who are abused must somehow judge their abuser favorably?
- Does this mean that those who do not have first hand experience or knowledge of an act of abuse must necessarily, as a matter of Jewish law, refuse to believe untoward accusations by alleged victims, immediately dismissing the charges?
- Must we “hide our heads in the sand?”
- How then are innocents to be protected from con artists, manipulators, predators and others out to harm them?
- How then are criminals to be brought to justice?
Once they are before the court, the opinion of R. Yehudah b. Tabbi, Avot 1:8, applies:
Despite the call to judge favorably, there is room for suspicion and for precaution. Another Talmudic dictate instructs, “A person should always consider others as thieves, while honoring them like Rabban Gamliel.”24 An example of this approach is found in a story about R. Yehoshua and how he treated a house guest with great suspicion. After an evening of eating and drinking, R. Yehoshua showed his guest to the roof where he would spend the night. After the guest climbed the ladder, R. Yehoshua, without his guest’s knowledge, removed the only safe exit. In the middle of the night, the guest gathered much of his host’s property and sought to escape “like a thief in the night.” The ladder having been removed, the thief fell off the roof and was injured. When the thief complained about the missing ladder, R. Yehoshua castigated him saying that he should have realized that he would have been under suspicion.25How do we resolve the tension between the requirement to judge favorably on the one hand, and the need for caution and suspicion on the other?
One answer is to make a distinction between those we know who generally behave appropriately and strangers whose motives and dispositions are unknown to us. The former require our sympathetic assessment, the latter do not.26 Others suggest that one should be wary and suspicious of others, but he must treat them respectfully as if they were innocent.27
Consider the Mishnah, Yoma 18b, which relates how the priestly elders charged the High Priest prior to his officiating in the Temple’s Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. To ensure that he would follow the rituals according to the rabbinic, Pharasaic requirements, and not in accord with the interpretations of the Saduccees. They adjured him, took their leave, as they said to him: “Sir High Priest, we are messengers of the court and you are our messenger and the messenger of the court. We adjure you by He Who made His name to dwell in this house that you do not change anything of what we said to you.” [The High Priest] turned aside and wept and they turned aside and wept.
The Talmud explains that “he turned aside and wept” because they suspected him of being a Sadducee, and they turned aside and wept for having suspected him and not judging him favorably.
Yehudah b. Tabbai said: [A judge] should not play the part of an advocate (i.e., should not suggest to either party a line of argument); while [the parties in a lawsuit] are standing before you, regard them as if they were [both] guilty (and thus you will assess their words critically and appropriately). And when they leave your presence, [after] having submitted to the judgment, regard them as if they were [both] guiltless (i.e., each thought that justice was on his side and comported himself appropriately during the legal procedures).28Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishnah dealing with the exhortation of the elders of the High Priest before Yom Kippur states that positive presumptions are suspended with regard to strangers when there is a hekhreh gadol, a critical need to do so. Another resolution is offered by R. Moshe Soloveitchik who suggested that in the case of the High Priest and the elders on Yom Kippur, the elders were justified in their actions. He submits that while one may look at a person’s past behavior in a charitable light, such openness is not required, and may be inappropriate, with regard to future actions.
The Rest of the Story
This predisposition to give others the benefit of the doubt is limited in its application. If we accept that argument that it is based either on hazakah (legal presumption of the status quo) or on rov (the majority of his actions), it is important to note that these principles are operative only in cases of doubt and only when it is impossible to otherwise investigate and establish the facts of this case. While one may initially want to reserve final judgment about the allegations, one is obligated to follow through and establish, to the best of his ability, the facts of the case.29
In addition, the hazakah of innocence is a weak one. Although people are born innocent or have established a track record of the same, King Solomon himself reminded us that “There is not a righteous person on earth that does good and that does not sin.” (Eccl. 7:20). We need to be concerned about those failures, especially when they may be harmful to others.
Furthermore, the obligation to judge others favorably, according to the Mishnah, applies to all people, including the accuser. If we are to give others the benefit of the doubt, we must do so for the accuser as well. We are not to assume automatically that the allegations are false, nor are we to assume automatically that the accusations are true. We must treat all parties with deference, as if all were innocent of wrong doing, but we must investigate carefully and thoroughly, and in a timely manner. Of course, as we shall see, we must also act with great prudence, assuring that those who make the accusations as well as other innocents do not come to harm either by further abuse or by retaliation of the accused.
In addition, we cannot let our favorable judgment cause us to ignore possible violations of Jewish law. The Torah obligates us to rebuke those who have sinned30 as well as to protect the safety and welfare of the community.31 Automatically deciding another’s innocence prevents these obligations from being fulfilled.32 And this obligation of rebuke applies even when the one accused of doing wrong is one’s parent or teacher.33 In fact, R. Yehudah was greatly rewarded for calling his teacher, Shmuel, to task.34 A distinction can be made between giving someone the benefit of the doubt and finding him guiltless.35 The former does not require the latter and justice is served when victims are believed, their accusations validated, and they find safety and security.
Justice and Mercy
It is often difficult to believe allegations of abuse. And it is often difficult, even if the allegations are believed, to want to hold the perpetrator responsible. Feelings of compassion and pity for the perpetrator, his reputation, and his family push even well meaning people to minimize the abuse or to minimize the perpetrator’s responsibility and the consequences he must face. But such compassion is misplaced. Denying justice to the victims of abuse denies compassion for the abused. Denying accountability for the perpetrator denies compassion for victims—past, present, and future.
The Midrash taught that “be-tzedek tishpot et ‘amitekhah” means not only that “you shall judge your neighbor with righteousness,” but “you shall judge your neighbor as righteous.” Choosing the right neighbor to call righteous makes all the difference in the world and is an act not only of justice, but ultimately of kindness and mercy to those who need it most.
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Thursday, April 21, 2016
When The Abuser is a Police Officer
Many of the same qualities valued in on-duty police officers can make those same officers dangerous perpetrators of domestic violence. All abusers employ similar methods to control and abuse their intimate partners. Officers however, have an arsenal of skills and tactics not commonly possessed by civilians. Professional training in the use of force and weapons, intimidation, interrogation and surveillance techniques along with the cultural climate coalesce into a dangerous and potentially lethal combination in a domestic situation. Victims face the bias of law enforcement agencies and the legal system, psychological intimidation, and high risk of lethality.
This article examines the dynamics of police-perpetrated domestic violence and how it impacts the victim, the department, and the community. It explores how a police officer's training and professional life contribute to his arsenal of techniques and tactics of abuse. Finally, the article describes in detail the unique dilemma encountered by victims whose abusers are members of law enforcement.
Domestic violence is unique in that the parties share a personal, emotional and sexual relationship. By definition, domestic violence occurs within the family and generally within the privacy of the home. Only physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse is against the law. Discussion of verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological abuse is thus often considered irrelevant.
However, domestic violence is not solely about physical abuse. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behaviors used to intimidate and manipulate the victim for the purpose of gaining and maintaining control. It is precisely because of the non-physical types of abuse that the physical abuse "works" to control the victim. Talking exclusively about physical abuse takes these acts out of context and makes them similar to assault or battery by a stranger.
This pattern of violence takes place in a confused climate of intimacy and love mixed with hope, fear, isolation and intimidation. It is common for a woman to tell her counselor that she cannot call the police on her intimate partner or have him arrested because she does not want to betray his trust. She defends his character and makes excuses for his behavior. She may take responsibility for the abuse believing that she provoked it. She feels she must protect him out of a combination of fear and love.
Twenty years ago domestic violence advocates were considered radical when they suggested that a woman call the police when battered by her intimate partner.
This notion confronted men's sense of entitlement to dominate and to rule in the privacy of their homes. In step with the civil rights movement, women's right to be safe from bodily harm, even within their own homes, was recognized. States passed laws to protect women from violent husbands and intimate partners, moving domestic violence into the criminal arena.
Some police officers were reluctant to recognize domestic violence as a criminal offense and avoided enforcing the law. Years ago, police commonly told us that breaking up "marital disputes" and "lovers' quarrels" was not police work, but social work.
Many police officers still express frustration when victims call for intervention and then plead with the officer not to arrest the abuser. Police are discouraged by the number of cases in which the victim drops criminal charges. Over time, and with education on the dynamics of domestic violence, most police officers have come to consider domestic violence within the range of legitimate police work.
The final obstacle to overcome is police officers' reluctance to consider domestic violence a crime when it is perpetrated by one of their own.
Their strong sense of the police family dissuades them from considering police domestic violence a criminal offense, not unlike their attitude toward civilian domestic violence twenty years ago. Victims of police officers not only challenge the image of the personal family, they challenge the concept of the police family as well.
When domestic violence occurs in a police home, police departments choose to keep the incident a family secret and deal with it in-house. By treating the crime of domestic battery as a private matter or a marital problem, police departments regress to the approach of twenty years ago. The department hesitates to interfere in an employee's private life, and is extremely uncomfortable with the legal requirement to treat the offending officer like a common criminal. The victim, not the abuser, is identified as the traitor. The forces gather to silence her and to protect him.
Misuse of Institutional Power
Police abusers differ from other abusers only in that they are tougher and more dangerous. They have training, a badge, a gun and the weight of the police culture behind them. Smart police do not hit, slap, kick, or choke their partners. It is not necessary. They exercise their power and control by intimidating, isolating and terrifying the victim. These forms of abuse need to be addressed when the perpetrator is an officer. They are misuses of institutional power — the badge, the gun, the support of the department — and there is the constant threat that he will use them all against her.
Police are trained to walk in and take control of any situation. Their mere presence, voice and stance are used to establish their authority. They learn a full range of information-gathering techniques ranging from interviewing and interrogating to vigilant surveillance. The proficient use of these investigative techniques requires the ability to be manipulative and deceptive.
Training includes much instruction on the use of escalating degrees of force and the use of deadly force. The use of force by a police officer is a serious matter and force is to be used only when necessary to enforce his position of authority. Police know which situations justify the use of force and how to adequately explain it should they have to defend their actions in a court of law.
Tactics of Abuse
The same characteristics and skills that are developed in training to produce competent officers are those that, when used in an intimate relationship, make police officers the most dangerous abusers.
The problem occurs when the officer walks through the front door of his home with the same mind-set he has in his professional life. His sense of entitlement to authority and respect from civilians carries over to his intimate partner. He cannot conceive of an egalitarian relationship. He must always be dominant and in control. Even a minor disagreement is perceived as a challenge to his authority which he will not tolerate. He uses his many finely honed skills and tactics to impress upon the victim that he has total control over her life.
Police officers use professional skills, police equipment, and the mobility of the job to keep their partners under surveillance. They run license plates of her friends and have access to information about anyone with whom she associates. They follow in their squad cars, park their squads or unmarked cars outside the victim's home for hours on end. They install recording devices in the victim's home or on her telephone. They use binoculars to observe the victim's activities from a distance. These methods serve as a constant reminder to the victim that she is always within the abuser's reach. He comes to be seen as omniscient and omnipotent, almost god-like.
The abuser uses verbal intimidation and degradation to communicate to the victim that she has no power in their relationship. He uses words as weapons to embarrass and humiliate her. He screams at her as if she was a criminal on the street — his voice and face changes; he uses vile language. He tells the victim she is no better than the whores and scumbags he deals with on the job every day.
Sometimes the verbal attack is used to provoke a confrontation for which he can then retaliate. If the verbal intimidation fails to gain control or earn the appropriate level of respect desired, the police abuser uses his training in the use of physical force. He then blames the victim for pushing him too far and making him batter her.
Physical abuse in police-perpetrated domestic violence is extremely brutal. It includes punching, choking, kicking, choke holds and body slams as well as techniques that inflict great pain yet leave no bruises or broken bones. He may hold a loaded gun to the victim's head or a fire a shot in close proximity to her sleeping child.
The abuser reinforces the victim's sense of isolation and hopelessness by frequently reminding her that there is no escape. He tells her she can call the police, but asks her who she thinks they will believe — him, or her? He tells her she can leave, but wherever she goes he will hunt her down. She can press charges against him, but she does not have enough evidence or credibility to make them stick. If she does manage to get him convicted, he will lose his job and then she will have no financial support for their children. He threatens that if he loses his job, she will lose her life.
Community Response Missing
If the victim has ever tried to escape before, she knows the truth in what he is saying. The victim knows that he will find her if she goes to a shelter because he knows or can easily find out where shelters are located. Most of her family and friends are afraid of him and afraid to be involved.
In general, the smaller the town, the fewer options she has; and the higher his rank, the fewer people who are willing to help her.
If the woman calls the police, she sees that when the police arrive at the scene and learn that the alleged perpetrator is a police officer, a shift takes place. The responding officers are now responding not to the victim of a crime, but to an officer in need.
Because most police departments do not have a policy addressing police-perpetrated domestic violence, the responding officers, who are the abuser's colleagues, use their discretion in handling the call. The responding officers are likely to discourage the victim from signing a complaint. They urge her to consider his career, to think about all the good things they share, to think about their kids. They assure her that he's a good man and a good police officer, that he's just under a lot of stress. They promise to talk to him off the record and invoke the code of silence. The responding officers do not inform their superiors and life goes on, for the abuser, as if nothing ever happened.
Laws and Policy Backfire
Victims must overcome nearly insurmountable obstacles to pursue charges.
Where the victim does press charges, she is accused of being vindictive and going after his job. Obtaining a protective order is perceived as an act of aggression. The victim faces a legal system that is hostile and foreign to her, but is his daily work environment. He knows the system and the players in the system are his acquaintances and co-workers.
The court's leniency with perpetrators who are members of law enforcement has intensified since the passage of the Lautenberg amendment that prohibits anyone convicted of a domestic battery from possessing a firearm. The amendment provides no exemption for police officers even though the performance of their official duties requires possession of a firearm.
The law backfires on the victim because her complaint jeopardizes the officer's career. It is unlikely that losing his job will deter future wife abuse. Most often the violence will escalate because he will blame her for the loss of his job. In some cases the violence will be lethal because the abuser will feel he has nothing left to lose. His job is his identity. Confiscating the abuser's service weapon may protect the department from liability, but it does not protect the victim.
If the victim goes to the department, her complaint is received in a defensive or hostile manner. The victim is perceived as hysterical, exaggerating, or lying. After this initial response to her complaint, the victim reasonably can conclude that the subsequent investigation, should there be one, is often biased in favor of the abuser. The victim does not know where to turn.
When the victim is a police officer, her jeopardy is compounded. Her family, her career, and her life are at risk. She defies everyone's stereotype of a victim and image of a police officer. Her colleagues question her professional competence. If her abuser is also an officer, she is breaking the police code of silence by exposing him. Her colleagues may well turn against her and side with her abuser. Abused officers are often disciplined by the department whether they report or fail to report the abuse.
Confidentiality in Question
Some departments have an in-house victim advocate. Victims understandably are reluctant to confide in the advocate because the advocate is an employee of the department. The victims fear that their confidentiality will be compromised. For example, a department advocate may deem a breach of confidentiality to be in the victim's best interest. The advocate may decide to breach confidentiality in an effort to cooperate with the department or in response to a conflict between the advocate and the department.
Some departments employ social workers. Their crisis intervention in domestic violence cases frequently includes counseling both the victim and the offender. The same limitations that restrict the effectiveness of a department advocate restrict the effectiveness of a police social worker. The victim is acutely aware that the police social worker and the abuser are co-workers. The daily cooperative working relationship between the social worker and the officers presents a serious conflict of interest and loyalties. It is ludicrous to expect these victims, of all victims, to trust anyone employed by the police department.
In the same vein, many employees refuse to utilize Employee Assistance Programs when they have problems that jeopardize their careers. Employees simply do not trust that their confidentiality will be protected. Domestic violence advocates' concern is that many EAP-referred therapists and social workers lack training in the field of domestic violence.
Misinformation or unrealistic advice could have lethal consequences for all parties involved.
Mandated Batterers' Counseling
Departments could begin to address the problem by mandating abusive police officers into counseling affiliated with a domestic violence program. In Illinois, a certification process ensures that counselors who work with offenders follow a state-approved protocol.
Some police administrators suggest that offenders' treatment would be more palatable to the officers if there were groups exclusively for police officers. Rationalizations for an exclusive group must be closely examined. The primary assumption is that a police officer will be in an uncomfortable, embarrassing, or compromising position if he is required to attend batterers' counseling with civilians with whom he may later have professional contact. Surely doctors, lawyers, ministers and others in the community who attend batterers' groups have those same concerns regarding their personal reputations and careers.
Creating special groups for police officers only reinforces their elite status and reinforces the concept that they are somehow superior to the average criminal offender.
Police abusers differ from civilian abusers only in that they have the advantages of their training, their badge, their gun, and the weight of their tight-knit culture behind them.
This distinction makes their criminal behavior more egregious in that it is a misuse of official power and privilege. Perhaps it would be a good thing for an officer to be in a group with the guy down the street whom he arrested on a domestic violence call. He can see just how similar they are — except for the training, the badge, the gun, and the police to back him up.
Victims and abusers desperately seek ways to remove the burden of responsibility from the offender and to place it elsewhere. For example, the stress of police work, unstable working hours, and frustration with the system are often professed to be the factors that cause police officers to batter their intimate partners. Attributing the use of violence to a chemical imbalance or a personality disorder is also problematic. Alcohol and drug use, stress, posttraumatic stress, poor impulse control, intermittent explosive disorder, and poor anger management are common defenses.
However, these all beg the question as to why they manifest only in the presence of others who are powerless against the abuser. Rarely do we hear of police officers using violence against a superior officer or a judge in a court of law. We must remain focused on the dynamics of power and control in our analysis of police violence, and not be distracted by analysis of stress or anger management.
Confidential Victims' Advocacy
Victims of police-perpetrated domestic violence should be referred to a local domestic violence agency. There the victim has the protection of confidentiality. She knows that her counselor is not aligned with the police department that employs her abuser. She does not run the risk that her advocate will share information with the department. Domestic violence advocates in domestic violence agencies can learn the dynamics unique to police officer-involved domestic violence. Though vastly intensified, the dynamics of power and control are the same as in civilian cases.
An advocate can discuss numerous options with the victim, including the option of informing the police department of the abuse. A victim's desire to inform the department is often based on the hope that the department can somehow hold the abuser's violence in check. A realistic discussion of this option requires knowledge of the department's attitude, policy and procedures. Both a policy and a cooperative working relationship between the domestic violence agency and the police department are essential.
If a woman decides that she wants to talk to the chief, an advocate can act as a liaison and a source of emotional support and advocacy. The advocate works with the victim to set realistic expectations as to what intervention is within the chief's power.
Some victims want the department to discipline the abuser, others want the department to mandate that the abuser receive counseling. The advocate advises the victim that the department becomes liable once the chief is informed. Depending on the severity of the abuse, the chief may terminate the officer's employment. Many times this is not a practical solution for the victim because she and her children are financially dependent on his income. Other times, the victim fears that the abuser's retaliation would cost her life and so chooses to remain silent.
Building a support system for the victim ideally includes assistance from the chief of the involved department. I met with police chiefs in our suburban area. They assured me that they do not condone the abuse of police power and privilege demonstrated by abusive police officers, nor do they wish to bear the liability for an abusive officer in their department. We discussed the risk to the victim in coming forward, what action the department would take to protect the victim, and what action the department might take to hold the officer accountable.
I informed them of the advantages of having a domestic violence agency, independent of the department, provide information and counseling to victims of police officers. We discussed the prevalence of police-perpetrated domestic violence and whether there is need for a formal policy and procedures in responding to officer-involved cases.
Impact on Community
There is serious impact on the community when police officers gain a reputation for getting away with domestic violence. The media have exposed many cases in which little or nothing has been done by police departments or the criminal justice system to hold the abuser accountable or to protect the victim. This breeds skepticism and distrust of the police in the general public, and affirms the worst nightmares of the victims. Abusive police officers are validated in their belief that they are above the law.
When I speak to community groups about our program, it is clear that members of the community are very concerned that the same police officer who terrorizes his family could respond to a domestic violence call in their own family or neighborhood.
It greatly disturbs their sense of safety when they learn that complaints are made by victims and the department looks the other way because the perpetrator is one of their own. When people doubt the integrity of the police officers in their community it undermines the effectiveness of the police and puts all citizens at risk.
We have grave concerns regarding how police officers who commit the crime of domestic battery respond to domestic violence calls in the community. Obviously, their attitude may be less than appropriate in dealing with either party. Moreover, a police officer who is sympathetic to an abuser may not adequately protect a victim, projecting his own beliefs that women exaggerate the danger.
An officer who feels he is unjustly restrained by court order from contact with his wife or children may feel that other men are also unjustly sanctioned. That officer may be reluctant to enforce a protective order. Another potential problem is that police officers frequently testify in criminal cases against civilian abusers. We fear that testimony may be tainted due to personal bias when the witness is himself an offender.
Most police perpetrators' greatest fear is the loss of their job. A department's policy and attitude may be the most influential factors in deterring police domestic violence. Police departments have a responsibility to their employees and their employees' families to confront this problem. Domestic violence is not a private matter in any household. It is a crime. The claim that society is holding police officers to a higher standard is clearly unfounded. Officers are sworn not only to enforce the law, but to abide by it.
FROM THIS MUST READ SITE: ABUSE OF POWER