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VICTIM BEHAVIORS. “WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?”. PREVALENCE. A woman beaten in the United States every 12 seconds. (FBI statistics, 1997) One in 10 calls made to alert police to domestic violence is placed by a child in the home.

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  2. PREVALENCE • A woman beaten in the United States every 12 seconds. (FBI statistics, 1997) • One in 10 calls made to alert police to domestic violence is placed by a child in the home. • 50% of homeless women and children are fleeing abuse. ( Ford Foundation Study, 1990) • Battering is the single greatest cause of injury for women, causingmore injuries than auto accidents, muggings, and rapescombined. (Horn, 1992)

  3. A woman is killed in Florida due to domestic violence every 36 hours. (FDLE, 1997) • Nearly 1 in 3 adult women experience at least one physical assault by an intimate partner during adulthood. (American Psychl. Ass’n, Presidential Task Force, 1996) • 22% - 35% of women who visit emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing abuse. (American Medical Association) • 40% - 50% of women killed in this country are murdered by their partners; 3% of men are killed by their partners. (FBI, 1997)

  4. Separated/Divorced women are 14 times more likely than married women to report having been a victim of violenceby their spouses orex-spouse.(Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1991) • A study also found that 67% to 83% of their HIV positive females had been in abusive relationships with men who refused to use barrier protection.

  5. When women commit acts of non-lethal violence against their male partners • 65% act in self-defense • 30% react in response to previous abuse by their partners (Milller S. Malloy M. “Women’s Use of Force 2006) • Much of female violence is committed in self-defense, and inflicts less injury than male violence.(National Resource Council and Institute of Medicine 1998)

  6. The majority of women seeking protection orders have complaints of serious abuse: physical assaults, threats to kill or harm; threats to take the children. (Buzawa & Buzawa, 1996) • 60% of women in one study reported acts of abuse after the entry of a protection order, and 30% reported acts of severe violence. (Buzawa & Buzawa, 1996) • 80% of stalking cases occur within intimate relationships. (National Institute of Justice Research, 1996)

  7. VICTIM RESPONSES/BEHAVIORS • Very little eye contact • Appears depressed; anxious • Defends or makes excuses for partner or incident • Overly compliant to partners wishes/comfort • Takes blame for problem • Minimizes or denies abuse • Feels partner is dependent on her • Erratic behavior; nervousness • Reluctance to make decisions; learned helplessness; partner makes all decisions • Hopeful that things will “get better”

  8. POSSIBLE REASONS FOR ABUSE OR NEGLECT OF CHILDREN BY VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • Alcohol or drug abuse prevalent in relationship • Grew up in violent home/physical discipline does not seem abnormal • Uses all coping skills to “keep peace” with partner; has no energy left for coping with the children • Frustration; “pecking order” abuse • Is the disciplinarian in the family for the children: verbally/physically “sometimes harshly” disciplines children to keep abuser from disciplining “more severely”

  9. While more stringent laws have been enacted to protect victims of domestic violence, our society’s perception of victims has changed little.

  10. AS A SOCIETY…. • We EXPECT victims and their children to behave in a socially acceptable way….acting out their frustrations and anger is unacceptable. • We EXPECT victims and their children to be SO grateful for the help we are giving them. • We EXPECT the victim to do what we think is best for them, and to make the correct choices for themselves and their children • We EXPECT victims to disclose everything so that we can better help them. • We EXPECT victims to follow our rules and the rules of society. • We see them as weak and unable to manage their lives.

  11. It is our responsibility to ignore society’s stereotypes of who and what a victim is. We know better, and yet sometimes still treat victims no better than society’s perceptions. • They are difficult, they break our rules, their behaviors may trigger anger and frustration in us when they are not behaving as we think they should. In short, we expect abused women and children to act “normal”……how ridiculous.

  12. Abused women are women in crisis, women in trauma, and they will use whatever coping mechanism they can that successfully blocks out the pain, minimizes the danger, and helps them survive the day.

  13. We EXPECT victims and their children to behave in a socially acceptable way….acting out their frustrations and anger is unacceptable. • Many victims of domestic violence and their children are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some symptoms of PTSD are: They have trouble concentrating They are chronically depressed They may behave erratically They may have flashbacks of humiliation and terror They may have sleep disturbances and/or eating disorders They may have heightened startle response (jump at loud noises) • Imagine feeling this way every day! Do you think you would sometimes not notice, or not have the energy to correct your children’s behavior. Do you think your judgment and decision making capability may be impaired. Do you think you might have poor impulse control?

  14. Expressing anger and aggression can be a way of avoiding feelings such as hurt, sadness or anxiety. People also use anger to keep others from becoming emotionally close to them or to avoid feeling vulnerable.

  15. Victims of domestic violence and their children couldn’t trust the person they loved the most, and was supposed to love them the most. • Why should they trust you with the truth?

  16. We EXPECT victims to stop being substance abusers. • If alcohol or drugs was the coping mechanism that keep you safe, killed the pain, diminished the humiliation for you…..how quickly could you give it up. • Would it be a process as you began to feel safe and take control of your life….or, could you give up the thing that makes you feel secure and less afraid today?

  17. We EXPECT victims and their children to be SO grateful for the help we are giving them. • Imagine having a dream of what your life is going to be like. We all have them…even victims of domestic violence. Imagine not only having that dream turn into a nightmare...day in and day out…. Now imagine what your house looks like…..the things you have worked for and dreamed about……NOW imagine giving it ALL up today. • You can’t go home, you have to move into a living arrangement with many strangers and follow someone else’s rules on how you should live your life. You are an adult with a curfew, you have rules like a young adult again. How easy would that be for you? • Imagine having to accept handouts for food, clothes, shampoo, underwear, clothes and diapers and toys for your children. Would YOU feel grateful….or embarrassed, ashamed, scared….and JUDGED. It might possibly make you angry, and that anger may get misdirected at the people trying to help you. A normal, human reaction.

  18. We EXPECT the victim to do what we think is best for them. • Imagine a stranger telling you what is best for you and your children. Would it anger you, would it embarrass you? • We must begin to empower victims by starting at the point where they are and asking them what we can do to help them. These victims deserve to be treated with the same dignity that we require for ourselves. • Regardless of how much we understand the complexities of domestic violence, the victim knows the abuser and her situationbetter than we do! She/he is still an adult and has the right to make her/his own decisions. Informing the victim of possible options, education and support….not dictating what is best will get much more cooperation from victims.

  19. We EXPECT victims to disclose everything so that we can better help them. • Imagine having to tell strangers the most intimate details about your private life. Intimate details about your sex life, how you and your partner argue. How humiliating would it be to tell a stranger where and how you were last injured by the person that you just “can’t stop loving”. • Why do we expect victims to have less dignity than we do?It is wrong! • Building a rapport and trust with a victim will allow them to feel safe enough to open up eventually. • Trying to force details from someone who is trying to avoid vulnerability and embarrassment will only accomplish two things……lies and distrust.And realistically, how would you feel? • Victims may have learned not to trust outside systems; may not want personal information on public information records….in short, may want the privacy about their lives that the rest of us take for granted.

  20. We EXPECT victims to follow our rules and the rules of society. • Victims have developed behaviors and coping skills that at best seem unreasonable to us…and at worst, dangerous for them and their children. • These are coping mechanisms that have kept them alive thus far….and they will continue to use them when they feel they are necessary…..IN ANY SITUATION, not just in their own homes. • These behaviors may have been developed to help them survive, but when they leave that dangerous situation, their behaviors do not automatically change. • If you have been “conditioned” to lie to stay safe…..or “cheat”, or “steal”, or engage in any illegal activity…that way of life does not automatically disappear from your behavior simply because you are in a new situation.

  21. Changing behavior….any behavior ….does not change overnight….it is a process. • Just because we have offered them a safe haven, or a service, or a referral for a service….just because we are willing to help them does not make us theirfriends in their eyes…. • they are still distrustful and will go to any length to protect themselves and their children, even if that means lashing out at those trying to help.

  22. We may not have given them a reason to trust us. • We tell them what they NEED to do, who they NEED to call, what services they NEED to access. • When we do that……who do we sound like? • Yes, it sounds as if we are trying to control their lives just like the abuser did. • How would you feel?

  23. We SEE them as weak and unable to manage their lives. • The constant humiliating, manipulative and terrorizing behaviors that they cope with on a daily basis are astounding. The simple fact that they DO cope (by whatever means possible) is miraculous. The strategic planning and thinking of how to “avoid” the abuse is exhausting. • While we see them as being unable to manage their lives….they are, in fact… managing under EXTREME circumstances. They often micro-manage…planning every detail and step they will take…everything they say….everything they do. They manage to survive.

  24. COMMUNICATING WITH VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • Is it OK if I talk with you about some options that you have?” • This gives victim a feeling of empowerment and may help break down resistance to listening to you. • The victim may feel there is only ONE option…..the abuser has told the victim….” if you cooperate…I’ll go to jail.” • Letting the victim know there may be other alternatives will at least, in most cases, get their attention enough to listen.

  25. Can you tell me what happened?(may vary from police report) • This may begin to give you a clue and victim may be leaning towards “recanting.” • If there is more information than in the police report….she/he may have remembered more now (very common in traumatic events) . It is important to let victim know if the new information can or cannot be used in court

  26. What do you want to see happen? • Get them to answer some “yes questions” …. • Do you think he/she could benefit from counseling? • Would you like to see him/her get some help?

  27. DON’T SAY THINGS LIKE: • I understand • It sounds like (assumptions) • I’m glad you can share those feelings • You’re lucky that….. • I can imagine how you feel • Don’t worry it’s going to be all right • Try to be strong for your children • Calm down and try to relax

  28. Do SAY • I’m glad you’re talking with me now • I’m so sorry that happened • It wasn’t your fault / No on deserves to be hurt • Your reaction is a normal response to such a terrible thing • It must have been really upsetting • I can’t imagine how terrible you are feeling • Things may not be the same, but they can get better • You are not going crazy • THESE ARE NORMAL REACTIONS TO THE KIND OF TRAUMA YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH.


  30. Triggers • Each victim of domestic and/or sexual violence is bound to have triggers. • A trigger is a sight, sound, smell, phrase or movement that causes the victim to “flashback to an incident”, or creates the same feelings and emotions that occurred during an incident. • The emotion could be anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt, shame or a variety of other emotions.

  31. Many times when we are speaking with a victim, without knowing it, we may hit a trigger. The victim may not even realize it’s a trigger. When you are talking with a victim, what could be a clue that you have hit a trigger???? • Sudden shifts in mood; • Change in tone of voice; • Acting fearful; • Acting aggressive; • Avoidance of subject (even if the subject is not about a past incident, etc. Understand that sometimes fears that seem irrational….AREN’T.

  32. Some Triggers may be: • A phrase • Tone of voice • Speaking in demeaning manner • Telling victim what they “NEED” to do • Threatening with other actions if they don’t cooperate • Looks, actions, gestures

  33. Sometimes when we “trigger” the victim…. there is a strong emotional reaction ………keep in mind…..it’s not about you!!!!!

  34. RECANTING /UNCOOPERATIVE VICTIM • WHY?...........IT’S EASIER • Victim has been threatened with physical harm by abuser (could include family, children, friends) or other threats: • “I’ll divorce you and take the kids, etc. • “I won’t give you money for the mortgage, groceries…etc” • Victim is dependent on abuser for financial support for herself/himself and children • Victim does not want to endure court process • Victim has transportation or work challenges • Abuser has convinced victim it is her/his fault for “causing problem”.


  36. ACT SERVICES • 24 Hour Hotline 939-3112 • Emergency Shelter • Safety Planning • Information and Referrals • Advocacy • Residential and Non-residential • One-on-One Counseling • Group Counseling • Children’s Counseling

  37. Crisis Intervention • Medical and Forensic Examinations • Sexually transmitted disease testing • Documentation of injuries • Rape Support Groups • Support through the judicial system and accompaniment to court • 24-hour on-call counseling and support at all local hospital emergency rooms and doctor’s offices

  38. Middle and High School Educational Presentations • Community Education • Professional Trainings • Residential Substance Abuse Group • Assistance in filing of victim’s compensation forms • Assistance in preparing for court and courtroom testimony • Information and assistance in obtaining injunctions for protection


  40. Programs Provided on a Sliding Fee Scale • Anger Management Group • Batterer’s Intervention Programs (BAN) • Substance Abuse Educational Group for BAN participants

  41. IMPORTANT NUMBERS ABUSE COUNSLEING AND TREATMENT, INC. 24 HOUR CRISIS HOTLINE 239-939-3112 1-800-500-1119 Out of Florida 1-800-799-7233

  42. Victim Behaviors “What’s Really Going on?” • I acknowledge receiving from Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. VICTIM BEHAVIORS, “WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?” Training, and I have read and understand the information set forth in the video/printed materials presentation. • I understand it is my responsibility to bring questions to the Chief Executive Officer, supervisor or Community Education Coordinator if I do not understand or need clarification of any of this information. • By signing this, I am verifying I have received and understand the Victim Behaviors, “What’s Really Going on?” Training. I will receive a Certificate of Training for 1 hour. • Employee’s Signature: ________________________________________ • Employee printed name: __________________________ • Date: _______________________

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