Blaming Victims?

priest%20(0-00-00-00)Many times we find ourselves at a cross roads, when we see various cases of abuse, it leaves us to wonder, what actually causes abuse.

Being the human beings we are, there is always the tendency to lay blame and take sides, but sometimes, based on visual observations, emotions begin to overwhelm us, and we are forced to make decisions and lay blames that ordinarily we would not do.

Sadly, we have all been guilty, and will continue being guilty from time to time, based on emotion and other factors, sometimes we feel there are things that should not be allowed to happen, we would say “if i were the one, i would handle it in such and such manner”, but sadly it’s sounds easier in theory than in real life.

No one consciously chooses to enter into an abusive relationship, sometimes the society does not help potential victims make informed decisions as to how they perceive themselves, and in other cases, the signs are not just there.

The most important thing is no matter how bad it seems on the outside, the victim will always be what he/she is, and that is a “VICTIM”

It would be unfair to blame a victim, no matter what the situation might be or appear to be, we owe it to the victims to support and provide suitable platforms for their survival.

We must come together and show victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse, all the love and support they never received from their abuse partners and other areas in the society.

This writer has made some judgmental errors and mistakes based on emotional conclusions, it happens, but the most important thing is to ensure that we know who needs help.

Thank You

By Arome Ameh (The Priest)



realmendontrapeRape myths are beliefs about sexual assault that wrought with problems. Some myths are just completely and blatantly untrue. What often happens is that beliefs surrounding circumstances, situations, and characteristics of individuals connected to rape are applied to all cases and situations uncritically. Myths exist for many historic reasons which include inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society. The best way to approach rape myths are to confront them honestly and frankly. Don’t deny their existence and don’t dismiss one ungrounded statement with another.Confronting rape myths sociologically means looking at the data and reevaluating knowledge in the face of social facts. What follows are a list of rape myths and the facts that bring those rape conceptions into question. They are not always conclusive but provide the ground work for continued research.


Myth: Rape is sex.

Fact: Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence. It is a life-threatening experience. One out of every eight adult women has been a victim of forcible rape. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992) While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives. Most rapists have access to a sexual partner. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.

Myth: Women incite men to rape.

Fact: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanor are raped. Opportunity is the most important factor determining when a given rapist will rape.


Myth: There is a “right way” to respond to a rape situation.

Fact:Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.


Myth:A victim should be discouraged from dwelling on the rape. She should “forget it”.

Fact: This advice generally comes from people who are more concerned with their own feelings than the victim’s. All victims should be offered the opportunity to talk about the assault with those personally close to them and knowledgeable professionals. Victims who are not allowed to talk about the rape have a much more difficult time recovering form it.


Myth:Support from family members is essential to the victim’s recovery.

Fact: A Victim Services study found that emotional and practical support offered by family and friends does not necessarily speed the recovery of rape victims. However, when the people that a victim relies on behave in un supportive or negative ways, the victim faces a longer, more difficult recovery process. These negative behaviors include worrying more about oneself that the victim, blaming the victim, withdrawing from the victim or behaving in a hostile manner, and attaching a stigma to the rape and demanding secrecy from the victim.


Myth:Rape trauma syndrome is a transient problem. Most healthy people will return to a normal state of functioning within a year.

Fact: Surviving a rape can lead a woman to a better understanding of her own strength, but rape is a life changing experience. Rape has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims, with nearly one-third (31%) of all rape victims developing Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) some time in their lifetimes. More than one in ten rape victims currently suffer from RR-PTSD. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)


Myth: Rapists are non-white. Rapists are lower class. Rapists are “Criminal types”.

Fact: Rapists that fit the myth are more likely to be prosecuted but a rapist can be anyone: doctor, policeman, clergyman, social worker or corporate president.


Myth: Men can’t be raped.

Fact: There were approximately 20,000 sexual assaults of males ages 12 and over in the United States in 1991. (Bureau of Justice statistics, 1992)


Myth: Incest is rare.

Fact: Incest is common and happens in every community. An estimated 77% of reported sexual abusers are parents (57% of the total being natural parents), 16% are other relatives, and 6% are non-related. In addition, males are reported to be the abusers in 60 to 95% of cases. (Thoringer, School Psychology Review, 17 (4):614-636)


Myth: Sexual assaults are rare deviations and affect few people. After all, no one I know has been raped.

Fact: Sexual assaults are very common. Most likely, someone close to you has been profoundly affected by sexual assault. Not only are victims reluctant to discuss their assaults but many succeed in totally blocking the assault from conscious memory. However, the trauma remains and may come to the surface at another crisis or when the opportunity to discuss it with a sympathetic person arises. An estimated 155,000 women were raped each year between 1973 and 1987. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1991)


Myth: Women often make false reports of rape.

Fact: According to FBI crime statistics, during the 1990s around 8 percent. The “unfounded” rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.


Myth: You can tell a rapist by the way he looks.

Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. Many are young, married and have children. Rapist types and traits however can be categorized.


Myth: Women fantasize about being raped.

Fact: No woman fantasizes about being raped. Fantasies about aggressive sex may be controlled and turned off if they become threatening. In rape, the victim is unable to control the violence and stop it.


Myth: A man can’t rape his wife.

Fact: Many states now have laws against rape in marriage. The idea that a man can’t rape his wife suggests married women do not have the same right to safety as do unmarried women. Most battered women have experienced some form of sexual abuse within their marriage. It is also known that estranged or ex-spouses sometimes use rape as a form of retaliation.


Myth: Only “bad” women get raped.

Fact: No other crime victim is looked upon with the degree of suspicion and doubt as a victim of rape. Although there are numerous reasons why society has cast blame on the victims of rape, a major reason found in studies is that of a feeling of self protection. If one believes that the victim was responsible because she put herself in an unsafe position, such as being out late at night, drinking alcohol, dressing in a certain way, or “leading on” the rapist, then we are able to feel safer because “we wouldn’t do those things.” But, the basic fact remains that without consent, no means no, no matter what the situation or circumstances.


Myth: Rape is just unwanted sex and isn’t really a violent crime.

Fact: Rape is a lot more than an unwanted sex act, it is a violent crime. Many rapists carry a weapon and threaten the victim with violence or death.


Myth: Rape only occurs outside and at night.

Fact: Rape can and does occur anytime and anyplace. Many rapes occur during the day and in the victims’ homes.


Myth: Sexual assault is an impulsive, spontaneous act.

Fact: Most rapes are carefully planned by the rapist. A rapist will rape again and again, usually in the same area of town and in the same way.


Myth: Sexual assault usually occurs between strangers.

Fact: By some estimates, over 70% of rape victims know their attackers. The rapist may be a relative, friend, co-worker, date or other acquaintance.


Myth: Rape only happens to young attractive women.

Fact: Rape can and does strike anyone at anytime. Age, social class, ethnic group and has no bearing on the person a rapist chooses to attack. Research data clearly proves that a way a woman dresses and / or acts does not influence the rapists choice of victims. His decision to rape is based on how easily he perceives his target can be intimidated. Rapists are looking for available and vulnerable targets.Statistics were obtained from various sources including the study Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Crime Survey.

Myth: Rape is a crime of passion.

Fact: Rape is an act of VIOLENCE, not passion. it is an attempt to hurt and humiliate, using sex as the weapon.

Myth: Most rapes occur as a “spur of the moment” act in a dark alley by a stranger.

Fact: Rape often occurs in one’s home – be it apartment, house or dormitory. Very often the rapist is known by the victim in some way and the rape is carefully planned.


Myth:Most rapists only rape one time.


FACT Most rapists rape again, and again, and again – until caught.

Myth: Only certain kinds of people get raped. It cannot happen to me.


FACTRapists act without considering their victim’s physical appearance, dress, age, race, gender, or social status. Assailants seek out victims who they perceive to be vulnerable. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center has worked with victims from infancy to ninety-two years of age and from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Myth: Only women and gay men get raped.


FACT The vast majority of male rape victims, as well as their rapists, are heterosexual.Male rape victims now represent 8% of the primary victims served by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Rapists are motivated by the desire to have power and control over another person, not by sexual attraction. Male rape is not homosexual rape. Many male victims do not report the assault because they fear further humiliation.

Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rape are spontaneous acts of passion where the assailant cannot control him/herself.


FACT Rape is a premeditated act of violence, not a spontaneous act of passion. 71% of rapes are planned in advance. 60% of convicted rapists were married or had regular sexual partners at the time of the assault. Men can control their sexual impulses. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.

Myth: No woman or man can be raped against her or his will. Any person could prevent rape if he or she really wanted to.


FACT In 1991, 14% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center involved the use of a weapon. 74% involved physical force and/or threats of force. Women are often physically weaker than men and are not taught to defend themselves or to be physically aggressive. Furthermore, some women are not willing to hurt another person, especially if the offender is someone they know.

Myth: Most rapes occur when people are out alone at night. If people stay at home, then they will be safer.


FACT 44% of rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 occurred in the victim’s home.

Myth: Rapists are strangers. If people avoid strangers, then they will not be raped.


FACT In 60% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991, the rapist was known to the victim. 7% of the assailants were family members of the victim. These statistics reflect only reported rapes. Assaults by assailants the victim knows are often not reported so the statistics do not reflect the actual numbers of acquaintance rapes.

Myth: If the assailant, victim, or both are drunk, the assailant cannot be charged with rape.

FACT Forcing sex on someone who is too drunk to give consent is second degree rape in North Carolina. [It carries a prison sentence of up to 17 years.] Rape is a crime. People who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not considered free from guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men and white women.


FACT 77% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 involved persons of the same race.

Myth: Rapists are abnormal perverts; only sick or insane men are rapists.


FACT In a study of 1300 convicted offenders, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were well-adjusted but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.

Myth: Rape is a minor crime affecting only a few women.


FACT It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be raped in her lifetime. Because of low reporting rates, it is not known how many adult men are assaulted. It is also estimated that 1 out of every 4 girls, and 1 out of every 8 boys are sexually assaulted in some way before they reach adulthood. Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country.

Myth: Women frequently cry rape; false reporting of rape is common.


FACT The FBI reports that only 2% of rapes reports are given falsely. This is the same report rate for other felonies.

Myth: Most rapes occur on the street, by strangers, or by a few crazy men.


FACT Over 50% of reported rapes occur in the home. 80% of sexual assaults reported by college age women and adult women were perpetrated by close friends or family members. There is no common profile of a rapist. Rapes are committed by people from all economic levels, all races, all occupations. A rapist can be your doctor, your boss, your clergyman, your superintendent, your partner, your lover, your friend or your date.

Myth: You cannot be assaulted against your will.


FACT Assailants overpower their victims with the threat of violence or with actual violence. Especially in cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim’s trust in him to isolate her.

Myth: Women secretly enjoy being raped.


FACT No woman/ man/ child enjoys being raped. It is a brutal intrusion on the mind, body and spirit that can have lasting trauma.

Myth: It is impossible for a husband to sexually assault his wife.


FACT Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. In fact, 14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.

Myth: If a person doesn’t “fight back” she/he wasn’t really raped.


FACT Rape is potentially life-threatening. Whatever a person does to survive the assault is the appropriate action.

Myth: A person who has really been assaulted will be hysterical.


FACT: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of emotional responses to assault: calm, hysteria, laughter, anger, apathy, shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way.

Myth: Women “ask for it” by their dress or actions.


FACT Rapists look for victims they perceive as vulnerable, not women who dress in a particular way. Assuming that women provoke attacks by where they are or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No person, whatever their behaviour, “deserves” to be raped.

Myth: Women “cry” rape.


FACT Only two percent of reported rape and related sex offences are false (which is approximately the same rate of false reports for other crimes). Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for conviction, this should not be confused with false reporting.

Myth: Gang rape is rare.


FACT: In 43% of all reported cases, more than one assailant was involved.

Myth: Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity.


FACT The fact that a woman has been drinking does not imply consent. Alcohol and drugs can render a woman incapable of consent.

Myth: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.


FACT Survivors range in age from infancy to old age, and their appearance is seldom a consideration. Assailants often choose victims who seem most vulnerable to attack: old persons, children, physically or emotionally disabled persons, substance abusers and street persons. Men are also attacked.

Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.


FACT Men fall victim for the same reasons as women: they are overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence. Also, most sexual assaults that involve a male victim are gang assaults.

Myth: As long as children remember to stay away from strangers, they are in no danger of being assaulted.


FACT Sadly, children are usually assaulted by acquaintances; a family member or other caretaking adult. Children are usually coerced into sexual activity by their assailant, and are manipulated into silence by the assailant’s threats and/or promises, as well as their own feelings of guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men raping white women.


FACT The majority of rapes are same race; womewhere around 3 to 4% are not same race

Source- Sociology of Rape
University of Minnesota Duluth

Compiled by Arome Ameh ( The Priest)

Domestic Violence and Children

weeping childThe topic of domestic violence and children is quite a vast one. Where there are children involved in an abusive relationship, even when the parents think or hope that the children are not directly affected by what is going on between the parents, that is a falicy.

Children are often described as the ‘forgotten victims’of Domestic Abuse. Children are affected not only by directly witnessing abuse, but also by living in an environment where usually their mother – usually the main caregiver – is being repeatedly victimised.

Children in a home where the mother is being abused are also at greater risk of being abused themselves, or being used to control their mother. Due to his own lack of self-worth the abusive partner feels the need to control all those to whom he considers himself superior. In a family, this includes the children.

Hence domestic violence affects children in multiple ways:

  • children can suffer from witnessing abuse
  • children can be harmed as a result of trying to break up a fight or ward off an attack by the abuse
  • children can pick up on the fear, anxiety and trauma of the person being abused and can also pick up on the aggressive vibes from the perpetrator of violence
  • children living in a home with domestic violence are at a far greater risk of suffering child abuse directly (the NSPCC recently reported that in one third of the child abuse cases they were made aware of, domestic violence in the home was a factor
  • children can be used to manipulate one partner against the other, both while still living together and once the victim of abuse has left
  • children are frequently used to threaten the victim to ensure they stay or submit to further abuse (threats such as the abuser will harm or kill the children, report the mother to Social Services, or gain custody of the children are all very common)

Children living with domestic violence do not have a happy home in which they can feel secure and loved, even when their non-abusive parent wants to provide them with security and strong boundaries, this is usually hampered by the abusive parent.

To be better able to help children living with domestic violence, we need to be able to better understand the effect which witnessing abuse has on them, understand how the children are being used by the abuser, consider the risk of actual harm to the child themselves and finally look at ways of helping the children, whether we remain in an abusive relationship or not.


I think I’ Abusive – is there Help for Abusers?

confused manAm I abusive?

If you are not quite sure whether your actions could be considered abusive or not, read through the Warning Signs of an Abusive Personality and search your heart. Are any of those actions or attitudes ones you tend towards? You may also find it helpful to read the article by John Stibbs on healthy and unhealthy relationships: Emotional Boundaries. Does your relationship tend more towards a healthy or an unhealthy one?

Maybe you could ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • would you treat your boss, mate or next-door-neighbour the same way as you do your partner?
  • if someone else were treating your daughter, son, brother, sister or friend the same way as you treat your partner, would you consider it okay or not?
  • has your partner told you that your behaviour is unreasonable or abusive?
  • has your partner either left you or threatened to leave you if you don’t stop being nasty to her/him?
  • have previous relationships gone to the wall due to your behaviour?

If you have answered NO to either of the first questions, and YES to any of the last three, then the chances are pretty high that you are abusive towards your partner.

confused womanOn taking Responsibility

First of all, if you have realised that some of your actions and attitudes towards your partner may be abusive, you have already made a very important step toward change and being able to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. Well done! It is difficult and painful to realise that you may be hurting someone you love, but it is the first step towards change.

The only person who can make a difference is YOU! One of the main problems with repeat abusers and perpetrators is denial of the abusive nature of their actions and attitudes, and denial of any ‘real’ effect on their victims. Acknowledging to ourselves that we have a problem, or that we are hurting someone we love is very, very difficult and painful, and many people can never quite admit it to themselves. Other people or organisations can help the abuser become more aware of their behaviour and beliefs, but only the abuser themselves can change them.

A lot of abusive behaviours are ingrained, they may have been part of your personality and coping mechanism since childhood, and they are difficult not just to recognise, but also to crack. Nobody else can do that for you, you have to take responsibility for your actions and beliefs yourself – fully. This means recognising when you are saying something hurtful or doing something harmful to your partner; learning to recognise your reactions within yourself, how you feel when you get wound up, how you feel after an abusive episode; the thoughts and excuses you make to yourself to allow you to deny you are really doing anything wrong. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • do you regularly vent your frustration on your partner?
  • do you tell yourself that your partner is overreacting to ‘being told off’?
  • do you tell your partner they are ‘making a fuss about nothing’ or ‘making a mountain out of molehill’?
  • do you tell yourself what you do is not that bad, so-and-so would be far worse?
  • do you think that if your partner just didn’t ‘wind you up on purpose’ then the abuse would not happen?
  • do you tell yourself that your partner deserved the abuse, because they are not perfect either?
  • do you tell yourself that because you only get nasty when you are drunk, it isn’t really the same as if you were really abusive?

If you answered YES to any of the above, you may still not be taking full responsibility for your actions. It may be a good idea to discuss the abuse, your feelings about it and attitudes towards your partner with a third person, preferably someone not involved with either of you, such as a counsellor or helpline volunteer. Check out thelinks below.

Where can I get help for abusers?

There are several Perpetrator Programmes available throughout the UK (though not in all areas as yet) and many of these accept self-referals. To my knowledge, there are none at present that cater for female perpetrators of Domestic Abuse, but there are several counsellors and other professionals who are qualified to do so. RESPECT (see Links below) can provide you with a full list of either programmes or professionals in your area.

To find out what these Perpetrator Programmes entail, please check out with Respect which Perpetrator Programmes are available, and the BBC website Hitting Home also has some details and some personal stories and impressions from men and women who have been involved in such programmes (see Links below for the link to Hitting Home).

The Freedom Programme© also runs Home Study Courses for abusers which look at the underlying beliefs and attitudes which create an environment in which domestic abuse can occur together with the tactics employed to control or abuse. This course was designed and is now run by Pat Craven who worked for years with the most dangerous domestic violence offenders in the country. She knows her stuff!

If you are facing prosecution for violence towards your partner, the Court has got the option of referring you to such programmes, and there are further programmes organised and run by the Probation service – though these do not usually take self-referals. Attendance at one of these will often be included if you are on probation.

Several of our contacts have tried accessing help via their local GP or NHS service. Generally these have proven inadequate to their needs, and there is the usual problem of waiting lists. However, it is always worth checking with either you local GP or Health Center whether there are any local charities or organisations they can recommend or even refer you to. In a similar fashion, your local Social Services should have details of any perpetrator programmes or related services in your area, and are also able to refer.

Things which are not recommended

If violence has been, and especially if it currently still is an issue in your relationship, then Couple Counselling is not recommended. Nor is Mediation if you are going through separation or divorce. Basically the abuse itself has to be dealt with BEFORE any form of joint counselling or mediation can be effective, and in the meantime can, at best, deflect from the actual problem and fudge responsibility issues.

In the past Anger Management courses have been recommended for abusers, especially men who have been violent towards their wives or female partners. However, more and more research seems to be indicating that such courses are not effective in dealing with abusive behaviour as such, as abuse is less about being able to control anger, and more about basic attitudes and control issues. In short, anger management may be part of the problem, but is usually not either the main problem or the root cause of Domestic Abuse.

Will getting help ‘save’ my relationship?

It may, or it may not. Often by the time the perpetrator realises he or she has a problem, too much has already happened and the trust cannot be rebuilt. Sadly a lot of men will refer themselves to perpetrator programmes in a bid to stop their partner from leaving or even in a bid to persuade her to come back and give it another try. If you are seeking help with the sole intention or keeping or regaining a partner who has decided to leave due to your abuse, then you are probably approaching it with the wrong motives – more as a tool to get or keep what you want than as a necessary change in yourself.

Perpetrator programmes or counselling can really only help if YOU want to change. You may have to accept that due to your behaviour you have lost the person you love, but at the very least you can try to ensure that you do not cause more pain and hurt to the next person you get involved in.

Other issues to bear in mind

Alcohol or Drug abuse. Frequently Domestic Violence is related to alcohol or drug abuse. It is easy to turn around and ‘blame’ the drink for the abuse, telling yourself that you really don’t want to be nasty, but that when you are drunk, you just don’t realise what you are doing. I am sorry, but this in itself is another form of denial and blame-shifting. If you know that you get violent or nasty when you drink, or that there is a risk that you will, why do you continue drinking, and putting your partner at risk? If you are serious about wanting to change your abusive tendencies, then the first thing you will do is deal with your alcohol or drug addiction, and then you will be free to deal with the underlying issues within yourself which ‘allow’ you to turn violent or nasty while either drunk or on drugs. (Read Alcohol and Domestic Violence for more information)

Survivors of childhood abuse. A percentage of abusers were victims of childhood abuse themselves. If you are one of them, know that it is not uncommon to internalise and in some way ‘act out’ the abuse you experienced in later in life on other people. There is help for you, and you would probably benefit from counselling to help you come to terms with your own experiences as a child and understand how they have affected you throughout your life and in respect of your relationships. Often there are a lot of suppressed feelings of anger, betrayal and pain which may in part be an underlying issue in the abuse you perpetrate on others. There are loads of support groups and counsellors qualified to help (please note that since Hidden Hurt does not in itself deal with child abuse, we do not include at present a list of suitable links or websites – check out the internet search engines or directories where many other websites deal with this issue in very adequately).

Taking time out. One tactic or coping mechanism that many abusers have learned to use effectively is ‘taking time out’. This basically involves recognising when you are reaching the point at which you are likely to become abusive, and literally removing yourself. You may go for a walk, go into another room or go down the garden and do some weeding. The important thing is to remove yourself ‘from the boil’, take time out, and learn to calm down again. Obviously it would be a good idea to tell your partner you intend ‘taking time out’ before the event occurs – or they may be left wondering what you are doing! It is not suggested that you use this coping tactic instead of counselling, but simply that many have found it helpful in avoiding abusive actions and making themselves more aware of what they are feeling and thinking.

Links and Helplines which may be useful:

The Freedom Programme – Runs courses on Domestic Abuse Awareness as well as training programmes for professionals. They now also have a home study course for perpetrators of domestic violence. Give it a try! For more information read our page about the Freedom Programme.

Blain Nelson’s Abuse Pages – A website created and maintained by an ex-abuser. Very descriptive pages on the cycle of abuse especially; his feelings and denial; ‘his’ and ‘her’ stories – a MUST READ for anyone who is concerned that they may be abusive!

RESPECT – The National Association for Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes and Associated Support Services. RESPECT hold a full list of Perpetrator Programmes in the UK (including those that accept self-referral), together with counsellors, etc trained in this field. Emai .

Hitting Home – Part of the BBC Hitting Home website on Domestic Abuse. This link will take you straight to the page “Help for Abusers/Perpetrators”.

Sexual Abuse Checklist

  •  rapes and sexually assaults youabuse12
  • _____   forces sexual acts with him/her or others that make you uncomfortable or hurt you
  • _____   forces sex after beating or threat of a beating
  • _____   insists on sexual contact, kissing, touching, or fondling
  • _____   films or photographs you in sexual acts when this is unwanted by you
  • _____   calls you derogatory sexual names like “whore” or “frigid” or “bitch”
  • _____   forces you to strip; forces you to dress in a particular way
  • _____   forces you to view pornography or other people performing sexual acts
  • _____   voyeurism – watches you undress or shower when this is unwanted by you
  • _____   makes crude jokes or remarks about you or other women; treats women as sex objects
  • _____   criticizes and demeans you sexually or attacks your femininity
  • _____   disregards your sexual needs and feelings about sex
  • _____   has affairs with other women after agreeing to a monogamous relationship with you
  • _____   extreme jealousy; accuses you of having affairs or wanting sex with others
  • _____   threatens to sexually abuse your children if you don’t comply with his demands
  • _____   spreads rumors about your sexual behaviors
  • _____   withholds sex and affection
  • _____   forces you or refuses to let you use birth control
  • _____   makes unwanted public advances
  • _____   puts you at risk for unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
  • _____   directs physical injury towards sexual areas of your body

If you ticked yes to all the above mentioned, then i strongly advice you to seek help, because eventually it may lead to something more grievous and even to death, the relationship is not worth saving, but your life is.

Do the right thing.


The Mindset of an Abuse Victim

stalked womanAt one time or another, most of us have either read or watched a murder mystery on TV and are familiar with the plot line of someone who is framed for a murder they did not commit. The characteristics of this type of situation provide a great illustration for understanding abuse victims. So, for the sake of enlightenment, let us examine what would happen if you found yourself in this unfortunate predicament.

Imagine the following scenario. You witness a murder, and the person who is murdered was a police officer. The murderer is none other than the Chief of Police, but there are no witnesses to the crime except for you. The manner of death is irrelevant to this story. The investigation begins and the police cordon off the crime scene and interview witnesses. You tell them your story and they start collecting evidence.

Then strange things begin to happen. The only fingerprints discovered at the crime scene belong to you, your DNA is present, and your fingerprints are on the murder weapon. The victim’s blood and DNA are found in your car, and you realize that evidence has been planted to implicate you in the crime. You are arrested as a suspect and charged with the murder; you then seek out a lawyer to represent and defend you. Since it was the murder of a police officer, you are not allowed out on bail, but are remanded to prison to await your trial.

The nightmare continues, and as you sit in your jail cell, the visitors come. The first one to arrive is your lawyer. You look into his eyes and realize that he doesn’t believe you as you proclaim your innocence. He has checked out all of the evidence, and no matter what you say, you can see the disbelief and skepticism in his eyes. He takes notes and you sense that he is just going through the motions of mounting a defense for you. It is an airtight, open and shut case.

The next people to visit are your family and friends from church. You look into their eyes and see the shame and disappointment. It is almost unbearable for you to be viewed in this manner by the people you love the most. They hang their heads, but try to offer you encouragement by telling you that Jesus will forgive you. You want to scream, because you know you haven’t done anything wrong. But you also realize that the more fervently you try to convince people that you are innocent, the less they seem to listen or believe. They just nod their heads to pacify you, unconvinced, and their looks tell you that they are horrified that someone they know could commit a crime such as this.

Finally, the Chief of Police arrives. He sits down across the table from you, very cocky and with a big smirk on his face. He looks you squarely in the eye and says, “Don’t even try. No one will believe you.” Then he winks, laughs, and gets up and leaves your cell.

What feelings and emotions would be coursing through your body at this point? In all probability, you would be harboring a tremendous amount of anger and frustration because you know you are innocent, you know who is guilty, and yet the truth will not prevail. In your righteous anger, all you would want is for the correct person to acknowledge his crime and be held accountable for the murder. You would not want revenge, but for justice to be served and the appropriate person to pay the consequences for his crime.

Next on the list would be a considerable amount of fear. Because a police officer was killed, you are facing either the death penalty or life in prison. And since no one believes you, there is no point in telling anyone else. Your innocence falls on deaf ears. Life as you know it is over and you are now in a living hell with no way out. Your fondest wish would be for this to all go away and for you be able to return to your life as it was, in peace.

You would also begin to feel great isolation. There you are all alone in jail, cut off completely from the outside world, with no one believing you, no advocate for your side of the story, and everyone believing that you are a terrible person. There is no one to help extricate you from this awful situation, not even family or friends; no one to protect you from the consequences you might have to endure. The feelings of rejection and abandonment would be overwhelming.

And finally, a sense of hopelessness and despair would set in. People lose hope when they feel that they have no options. It is when people feel hopeless that they give up, on themselves and on their situation.

Could the previous scenario ever happen to you or me? It is a possibility, but I pray that it would never happen to anyone. The reality is, however, that all of the feelings and emotions described above are what abuse victims feel every single day of their lives.

Victims are innocent of the abuse perpetrated against them, they have no culpability in the acts, yet it as if they are being framed for a murder they did not commit. But unlike the previous example, where you know without a doubt you are innocent of the murder, victims lose the sense of their innocence and become brainwashed. They are told over and over again by their abusers that they cause the abuse and after awhile they begin to believe it and feel that they are responsible for this crime.

Abuse victims have a great deal of anger and frustration, not only for their abuser, but about their circumstances. They want acknowledgement of the abuse, validation that it is wrong, and they want the abuser to be held accountable for the abuse and its consequences. It is not about revenge, it is about justice. Victims want the abuse to stop and to be able to live their lives in peace.

They also live in fear. Victims are terrified to tell anyone about their abuse, for fear of the consequences. Generally, like the Police Chief in the above example, abusers repeatedly warn their victims that no one will believe them and they threaten them with harm if they tell. When victims are children, it is especially hard for them to stand up to an adult authority figure who has a good reputation. Abusers brainwash child victims to believe that no one will believe a child, and that the child will be perceived as a liar. By and large, society follows true to form on this and has a difficult time believing a victim, child or adult. Abusers often have good standing within a community and it is difficult for people to believe that someone they know and love would be capable of such reprehensible behavior. Society prefers to maintain the status quo and would rather malign and discredit a victim than have to face the evil brought on by a sinful, but well- respected abuser.

Victims are afraid, rightfully so, that if their abuser finds out that they told about the abuse, they will suffer greater abuse, either directly or through harm to other loved ones. That is why when abuse is revealed, safety for the victim is paramount. The fear of not being believed, of being thought of as a “bad” person, and the fear of retribution are why victims have almost an insurmountable anxiety about speaking up about their abuse.

Isolation of the victim is also one of the major characteristics of abusive situations. Abusers systematically physically and emotionally separate victims from family and friends and control their whereabouts. Victims come to believe, due to brainwashing by their abusers, that no one cares about them, no one will believe them, and no one will help them. Abuse victims feel as if they are all alone, that no one else is in the same situation, and that no one else could possibly understand.

After prolonged abuse, victims give up hope. They no longer care about themselves because they do not believe they are worthy of being saved. They see no options for themselves, no light at the end of the tunnel, just a life sentence with no hope of parole.

So how can we help? What Christians can offer abuse victims is hope. When abuse is revealed, the most important thing someone can say to a victim is “I believe you.” Three little words, but they have tremendous power. And follow that by saying “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” Just think, in the previous example, when you were sitting in your jail cell, how you would feel if even one person came to visit you and told you they believed you. Although they could not get you out of prison, the mere fact that someone else knew the truth would give you a sense of relief and hope. It is the same thing for abuse victims. Even if you cannot remove someone from an abusive situation, you can be a lifeline for that person by validating them, recognizing the truth, and acknowledging that the abuse is wrong. By just saying these simple phrases you can start an abuse victim on the road towards healing.

It is also important to explain to an abuse victim that they are innocent in God’s eyes regarding the abuse done to them. Most victims feel responsible for the abuse and are ashamed and full of guilt. If you tell them they are forgiven, like in the example described above when friends and family came to your jail cell and offered you forgiveness, victims feel more confused and angry because in their hearts they know that they did not do anything wrong. Offering forgiveness to a person implies that the person committed a sin. We can help free victims of the spiritual burdens of shame and guilt by acknowledging their innocence and placing the burden of the sin where it belongs, on the shoulders of the abuser.

Abuse situations are very complex and it is important for clergy and congregations to realize their roles. Once abuse is revealed, they need to work with victims and perpetrators and refer them for proper counseling and legal assistance from secular organizations that are trained to handle these situations. By understanding the mindset of victims, however, we can learn how to reach out in a positive and compassionate manner and build the trust necessary for victims to reveal their pain and take the first steps towards receiving help. We can and should stand by them with support for their spiritual needs throughout this process. So, the next time someone asks you in response to an abusive situation, “Why did she stay, why didn’t she just leave?” or “Why did he wait decades to tell someone about his sexual abuse as a child?” or “What did she do to cause this?” remember what it would feel like if you were being framed for a murder you did not commit.


Self-injury or Self-Abuse: a quick guide to the basics

cuttingIf the whole concept of a disorder in which people deliberately inflict physical harm on themselves confuses you, or if you’ve been doing this for a while and never realized that it’s recognized as a valid psychological problem all by itself, then this page is a good place to start learning about self-injury.

What self-injury is — and isn’t

You’ll hear it called many things — self-inflicted violence, self-injury, self-harm, parasuicide, delicate cutting, self-abuse, self-mutilation (this last particularly seems to annoy people who self-injure). Broadly speaking, self-injury is the act of attempting to alter a mood state by inflicting physical harm serious enough to cause tissue damage to your body. This can include cutting (with knives, razors, glass, pins, any sharp object), burning, hitting your body with an object or your fists, hitting a heavy object (like a wall), picking at skin until it bleeds, biting yourself, pulling your hair out, etc. The most commonly seen forms are cutting, burning, and headbanging. “Tissue damage” usually refers to damage that tears, bruises, or burns the skin — something that causes bleeding or marks that don’t go away in a few minutes. A mood state can be positive or negative, or even neither; some people self-injure to end a dissociated or unreal-feeling state, to ground themselves and come back to reality.

It’s not self-injury if your primary purpose is:

  • sexual pleasure
  • body decoration
  • spiritual enlightenment via ritual
  • fitting in or being cool

ASHIC is mostly concerned with episodic and repetitive self-harm: people learn that hurting themselves brings them relief from some kinds of distress and eventually turn to it as a primary coping mechanism.

Calling it self-mutilation often angers people who self-injure. Other terms (self-inflicted violence, self-harm, self-injury) don’t speak to motivation. They simply describe the behavior. “Self-mutilation” implies falsely that the primary intent is to mark or maim the body, and in most cases this isn’t so.

Why does self-injury make some people feel better?

There are a few possibilities, and the answer is probably a mixture of them. Biological predisposition, reduction of tension, and lack of experience in dealing with strong emotions are all factors.

It reduces physiological and psychological tension rapidly.
Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psychological and physiological tension and arousal back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately. In other words, they feel a strong uncomfortable emotion, don’t know how to handle it (indeed, often do not have a name for it), and know that hurting themselves will reduce the emotional discomfort extremely quickly. They may still feel bad (or not), but they don’t have that panicky jittery trapped feeling; it’s a calm bad feeling.

This explains why self-injury can be so addictive: It works. When you have a quick, easy way to make the bad stuff go away for a while, why would you want to go through the hard work of finding other ways to cope? Eventually, though, the negative consequences add up, and people do seek help.

Some people never get a chance to learn how to cope effectively
We aren’t born knowing how to express and cope with our emotions — we learn from our parents, our siblings, our friends, schoolteachers, — everyone in our lives. One factor common to most people who self-injure, whether they were abused or not, is invalidation. They were taught at an early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong. They learned that certain feelings weren’t allowed. In abusive homes, they may have been severely punished for expressing certain thoughts and feelings. At the same time, they had no good role models for coping. You can’t learn to cope effectively with distress unless you grow up around people who are coping effectively with distress. How could you learn to cook if you’d never seen anyone work in a kitchen?

Although a history of abuse is common among self-injurers, not everyone who self-injures was abused. Sometimes, invalidation and lack of role models for coping are enough, especially if the person’s brain chemistry has already primed them for choosing this sort of coping.

Problems with neurotransmitters may play a role
Just as it’s suspected that the way the brain uses serotonin may play a role in depression, so scientists think that problems in the serotonin system may predispose some people to self-injury by making them tend to be more aggressive and impulsive than most people. This tendency toward impulsive aggression, combined with a belief that their feelings are bad or wrong, can lead to the aggression being turned on the self. Of course, once this happens, the person harming himself learns that self-injury reduces his level of distress, and the cycle begins. Some researchers theorize that a desire to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, is involved.

What kinds of people self-injure?

Self-injurers come from all walks of life and all economic brackets. People who harm themselves can be male or female; gay, straight, or bi; Ph.D.s or high-school dropouts (or high-school students); rich or poor; from any country in the world. Some people who SI manage to function effectively in demanding jobs; they are teachers, therapists, medical professionals, lawyers, professors, engineers. Some are on disability. Their ages range from early teens to early 60s. In fact, the incidence of self-injury is about the same as that of eating disorders, but because it’s so highly stigmatized, most people hide their scars, burns, and bruises carefully. They also have excuses ready when someone asks about the scars (there are a lot of really vicious cats around).

Aren’t people who would deliberately cut or burn themselves psychotic?

No more than people who drown their sorrows in a bottle of vodka are. It’s a coping mechanism, just not one that’s as understandable to most people and as accepted by society as alcoholism, drug abuse, overeating, anorexia, bulimia, workaholism, smoking cigarettes, and other forms of problem avoidance are.


Okay, then isn’t it just another way to describe a failed suicide attempt?

NO. People who inflict physical harm on themselves are often doing it in an attempt to maintain psychological integrity — it’s a way to keep from killing themselves. They release unbearable feelings and pressures through self-harm, and that eases their urge toward suicide. And although some people who self-injure do later attempt suicide, they almost always use a method different from their preferred method of self-harm. Self-injury is a maladaptive coping mechanism, a way to stay alive. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand this and think that involuntary commitment is the only way to deal with a person who self-harms. Hospitalization, especially forced, can do more harm than good.

Can anything be done for people who hurt themselves?

Yes. Several websites offer self-help ideas. Many new therapeutic approaches have been and are being developed to help self-harmers learn new coping mechanisms and teach them how to start using those techniques instead of self-injury. They reflect a growing belief among mental-health workers that once a client’s patterns of self-inflicted violence stabilize, real work can be done on the problems and issues underlying the self-injury. Also, research into medications that stabilize mood, ease depression, and calm anxiety is being done; some of these drugs may help reduce the urge to self-harm.

This does not mean that patients should be coerced into stopping self-injury. Any attempts to reduce or control the amount of self-harm a person does should be based in the client’s willingness to undertake the difficult work of controlling and/or stopped self-injury. Treatment should not be based on a practitioner’s personal feelings about the practice of self-harm.

Self-injury brings out many uncomfortable feelings in people who don’t do it: revulsion, anger, fear, and distaste, to name a few. If a medical professional is unable to cope with her own feelings about self-harm, then she has an obligation to herself and to her client to find a practitioner willing to do this work. In addition, she has the responsibility to be certain the client understands that the referral is due to her own inability to deal with self-injury and not to any inadequacies in the client.

People who self-injure do generally do so because of an internal dynamic, and not in order to annoy, anger or irritate others. Their self-injury is a behavioral response to an emotional state, and is usually not done in order to frustrate caretakers. In emergency rooms, people with self-inflicted wounds are often told directly and indirectly, that they are not as deserving of care as someone who has an accidental injury. They are treated badly by the same doctors who would not hesitate to do everything possible to preserve the life of an overweight, sedentary heart-attack patient.

Doctors in emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics should be sensitive to the needs of patients who come in to have self-inflicted wounds treated. If the patient is calm, denies suicidal intent, and has a history of self-inflicted violence, the doctor should treat the wounds as they would treat non-self-inflicted injuries. Refusing to give anesthesia for stitches, making disparaging remarks, and treating the patient as an inconvenient nuisance simply further the feelings of invalidation and unworthiness the self-injurer already feels. Although offering mental-health follow-up services is appropriate, psychological evaluations with an eye toward hospitalization should be avoided in the ER unless the person is clearly a danger to his/her own life or to others. In places where people know that self-inflicted injuries are liable to lead to mistreatment and lengthy psychological evaluations, they are much less likely to seek medical attention for their wounds and thus are at a higher risk for wound infections and other complications.