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Domestic Violence: Protective Strategies



Protective Strategies of Victims of Domestic Violence

Victims of domestic violence are often in survival mode. Without a sufficient understanding of domestic violence, volunteers and professionals may rely on their subjective interpretations of a battered parent’s demeanor. Historically, adult victims’ decisions or behaviors have been misinterpreted as instability, apathy, uncooperativeness, or even vindictiveness. Recognizing a battered parent’s survival strategies and developing recommendations and case plans that build on those strategies will increase the likelihood of success for protecting children. Therefore, it is important to consider the history of abuse and the abused parent’s efforts to manage existing safety threats and prevent additional safety threats to the children from arising.

The following examples are ways an adult victim may try to protect herself and her children:

  • Fighting back and defying perpetrator (could have led to her arrest).

  • Trying to improve the relationship with her partner.

  • Sending the children away from the home.

  • Pleasing and placating the perpetrator, complying with demands.

  • Remaining silent and not telling anyone about the violence for fear
    of making it worse.

  • Leaving to try to make things better.

  • Returning to try to make things better.

  • Enduring a beating to keep the batterer from attacking the children.

  • Establishing safety plans with her children.

  • Avoiding the perpetrator (e.g. working separate shifts).

  • Calling the police, seeking help from family members, obtaining a protective order, going to a shelter, or trying to find help for the perpetrator.

  • Dropping the protective order or withdrawing from help.

  • Learning to be 'devious' as a way to survive.

  • Encouraging the perpetrator to drink so he’ll pass out and not hurt anyone.

  • Reasoning with the perpetrator and expressing disapproval of his behavior.

  • Having sex to placate the perpetrator and protect the children from violence.

  • Drinking and using drugs to numb the pain.

  • Lying about the perpetrator’ criminal activity or child abuse so that he will not further hurt the victim or the children.


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