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A Practitioner’s Portfolio

Forensic Psychology Practice Ltd The Willows Clinic 98 Sheffield Road Boldmere Sutton Coldfield B73 5HW 0121 377 6276

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Domestic Violence


What is domestic Violence?


How common is Domestic Violence?


Domestic Homicide


The effects on victims in a repeatedly violent relationship


The stages of victimisation


Stockholm syndrome


Traumatic bonding


Other emotional effects


Behavioural consequences to the victim


Assessment of victims of Domestic Violence


Interventions with victims of Domestic Violence


Staying in the relationship and not wanting intervention




Recommended Reading


Self-help/Advice Lines


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Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence (DV) refers to any type of violence within the home. For the purpose of this document, the term domestic violence is used to refer to violence between sexual or intimate adult partners. “Spouse maltreatment may be said to have occurred in the breakdown of an intimate relationship where there is evidence of physical or psychological injury, material deprivation, emotional and sexual abuse, marital rape, pornography or forced relation that has been inflicted on the victim by the partner”, London, (1978).

The importance of the above definition lies in its acknowledgement of components of domestic violence other than the physical aspect. In terms of risk to the victim, physical abuse usually invites the most concern, but it is important to acknowledge that psychological abuse always accompanies physical abuse and sexual abuse commonly occurs also within intimate relationships where physical violence occurs. Below are some common examples of different types of abuse. These categories are not mutually exclusive. Physical Abuse Grabbing Twisting arms Forcing to sit/stand Punching Kicking Slapping Pushing Head butting Throwing Hitting with an object Smashing into an object Use of weapon Dragging by hair Scratching/biting Shaking Choking/strangulation Murder Sexual Abuse Demanding sex Forcing sexual intercourse Using intimidation to prevent victim saying no. Forcing oral sex Forcing anal sex Forcing to take part in /view pornography Forcibly inserting objects Forcing to have sex with animals Forcing to have sex with children Forcing to have sex with other parties Forcing paraphilic activity Psychological Abuse All the preceding Constant insults Put downs Public humiliation Insulting appearance Threats to leave Threats to children Harm of pets Destruction of property Demanding obedience Blaming the victim Jealousy/obsession Stalking/surveillance Preventing working Isolating Threatening infidelity Implying mental illness Controlling money

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Domestic Violence

It is important that the above are regarded as examples only, as although there are commonalities to violent relationships, each one has different aspects of abuse.

How Common is Domestic Violence? Who is at Risk? • Domestic violence occurs across socio-economic groups. • Cultural variances in attitudes to women/violence and attitudes to patriarchy and family structure are significant predictors. • Domestic violence occurs across genders and in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. • Individual personality characteristics of the perpetrator are most likely to be the most important factor in determining the risk of domestic violence occurring.

Incidence Assessment of the prevalence and incidence rates of domestic violence is fraught with difficulty. The true rate with which this type of violence occurs, is unlikely to be known as research is hindered by the following constraints, (Dobash and Dobash, 1979, Star, 1980, Finkelhor and Yllo, 1985, Yllo, 1993): • Lack of awareness of the problem • Normalisation of family violence. • Refusal to accept there is a problem.

The problem is further compounded by the following: • DV is grossly under-reported. • Prosecution is unlikely. • Conviction more difficult.

This means that formal detection of incidents and therefore the true incidence is unlikely. Also, it is worth noting that most of the research conducted has measured violence towards women by men. The area of male victimisation has been largely neglected to date, though this is beginning to change.

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Domestic Violence

Also, many studies of domestic violence focus on physical violence alone and tend not to measure the psychological components of the violence that are present on a more frequent basis than the physical violence. Also, in many studies, sexual violence within relationships is not measured at all, and this is the component most likely to be under-reported.

Under-reporting The factors described below indicate that it is unlikely that domestic violence incidents will be reported either by the victim or concerned others. • Domestic violence usually occurs when the perpetrator is alone with the victim and therefore others are unlikely to report the offending. • Stigma and shame associated with being a victim of domestic violence makes its occurrence unlikely to be made public by the victim. • The dynamics of the relationship make it unlikely that crimes committed within that relationship will be reported to the police. • The victim is likely to be fearful of increasing the risk of violence to themselves by reporting the offence. • The perpetrator denies some or all of the offending and often does so by trying to reduce the credibility of the victim’s account. The victim therefore fears that if they report the offence they will not be believed.

The above factors therefore indicate that estimates of the prevalence of domestic violence may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as offences are unlikely to be reported. Most information on the prevalence of domestic violence is drawn form crime surveys. This approach has major limitations in that the information drawn concerns reported crimes only. For this reason, the most accurate information is drawn form the following: • Victim surveys • Anonymised samples drawn from the general population. • Divorce proceedings.

Crime Surveys. 56% of assaults on women are domestic (British Crime Survey – Mayhew et al., 1993).

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Domestic Violence

© FPP Ltd 1999 6 of 50 Domestic Violence .) Schulman (1979) Straus et al (1980) Straus et al (1985) Any violence ever Severe violence ever Repeat severe violence ever Severe violence . Jones.7% 3.last year Repeat severe violence . Victim surveys indicate that only 14-27% of assaults are reported to the police (Dutton.0% 2. MacLean and Young. the female victim is seriously injured four times a year.0% 3. Pease et al. the most common being assaults between unrelated males. Mooney (1993) reports that one third of women in violent relationships are attacked more than six times a year and on average.2%).700 approx. 1988. Female victims of male partner (N = 1.9% 4.1%). • 52% said they had used violence against their female partner.5% 28.5% 22.8% 2.1% 2.0% 11.1% 8.0% In investigating lesbian relationships a higher incidence of abuse has been found than in heterosexual and gay relationships.0% 8. (1991) reports that domestic incidents accounted for only 12% of calls to the police in Liverpool and Smith (1989) argues that domestic violence is the most under-reported and underrecorded crime.Dobash and Dobash (1979 & 1987) reported that in Scotland. • 30% said they had used violence against a non-female partner.2%.0% 12.099 lesbians and found: • 52% claimed to have been a victim of violence by their female partners.3% 7. 1986). In quantitative terms. Victim Surveys/Anonymised Surveys.last year 21.8% and husband beating 1.7% 5.. Lie and Gentlewarrior (1991) surveyed 1. ‘wife beating’ represented 76. Incidence rates found in US populations. (37. Of 1051 recorded incidents of violence in the home. the 2nd largest category of interpersonal violence is assault on wives (25.

1988). Within the families surveyed. many authors argue that the nature of the violence directed towards males by females is less severe. • Women are more likely to be injured during attacks by male partners than men are during attacks by female partners. Divorce/Separation data In the USA. Hart (1990) found that 32% of middle class and 40% of working class women mentioned physical abuse in divorce proceedings. the USA Harris poll found that 66% of divorced or separated women reported violence in their previous relationship. (Browne. • Men perpetrate more severe actions at least by the name of the action (e. The largest study. Although it is slowly becoming accepted that males are also victims of domestic violence.6% of the husbands were battered in the first 12 months of the study. © FPP Ltd 1999 7 of 50 Domestic Violence .8% of the wives and 4. kick. demonstrated that ‘marital violence’ occurs once a year or more in 16% of families.Pease et al (1991) outlined from victim studies the probability of repeat attacks in the home as follows: • 35% of first time victims suffer a 2nd attack within 5 weeks of first. With regard to male victims of domestic violence. the same families reported that 3. 45% suffer an third assault within 5 weeks of the second. beat up. threaten with or use a knife/gun). Hampton et al (1999) assert that “because men are typically larger than their wives and usually have greater access to power. a quarter had a male offender.” Hampton et al further analysed two USA national samples that showed the following: • Men perpetrate more aggressive actions against their female partners than women do against their male partners. either as a pre-emptive strike or in retaliation for previous wife abuse. property and prestige. 1997). they do not experience the same physical or social consequences from violence as women do. In terms of ‘abusive’ violence. by Strauss et al (1980.g. A considerable proportion of wife-to-husband violence occurs in the context of domestic conflict. punch. little research is available to inform us. • Men are more likely to perpetrate multiple aggressive actions during a single incident. Recently. a quarter had a female offender and half the families reported violence by both parties. choke. • After a 2nd attack.

sexual abuse within relationships where domestic violence is taking place is common. sexual abuse takes place where no other physical abuse occurs. where 45% of domestic homicide victims were men and 55% were women. Painter. 1992.1990). the couple were no longer living together when the homicide occurred (Edwards. 1982. 1994). (1997) and Ewing. (1987). Browne. interviewed 930 women.In the UK 56-59% of divorced women reported being hit by their previous partner (Evason. Russel (1982. in a study by Hart et al. approximately 1/5 of all homicide victims were women killed by their current or former male partner. ¾ of incidents reported to the police occurred after separation. also in the USA. Morley and Mullender. Sexual Offences. 1985). 644 of whom were married. In their analysis of ‘marital rape’. 1991). In studies by Finkelhor and Yllo (1982. 1989). Domestic homicide in the USA has been reported to constitute 40% of all homicides (Curtis. This represented between 42 and 49% of all female homicide victims. ‘yes’. USA. they found that in 82% of the cases the rape had occurred after the partners had separated. As previously outlined. the authors asked a randomised sample of 322 women living in Boston. Domestic Homicide Domestic homicide is generally regarded as the end result of escalating violence that results in the male partner killing the female victim or the female victim finally taking ‘revenge’ or ‘defending herself’ after years of suffering. In approximately one third of domestic homicides. From 1983 to 1990 in the UK. Psychological abuse is an inevitable component of sexual abuse. Occasionally. Interestingly. ‘Marital rape’ generally refers to rape within an intimate relationship and therefore does not imply that the couple are actually married in all studies. “Has your partner ever used physical force or threat to try to have sex with you?” 10% of the sample replied. In contrast. In the UK. (1990). only 7-11% of male homicide victims were killed by their female spouse (Home Office. this had occurred. 1974). and found the following amongst those who were married: © FPP Ltd 1999 8 of 50 Domestic Violence . Browne (1997) reports a greater difference in the proportionate number of male and female victims.

resorted to sexual violence”. ‘Battering rapists’. In four out of five of the cases. He reports that “These men hit their wives. the more severe the effects of the violence. ‘Obsessive’ rapists. 3. In the UK. took their money and. THE EFFECTS ON VICTIMS IN A REPEATEDLY VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP Factors Influencing Victim’s Response to Assault. belittled them. the perpetrator stripped the victim after a physical attack and then sexually assaulted them. In 50% of cases the victim was forced into sex as part of the battering experience. Renzetti. control and authority. As a rule of thumb. 2. The element of obsession with a particular sexual act was marked and the victim would often be forced into this act. mastery. These are detailed more fully below. In 40% of the cases the perpetrator used only as much force as was necessary to obtain sex. assault and post-assault factors. Often the victim would be bound and objects were inserted into the victim’s vagina or anus. Hall (1985) surveyed 1236 women living in London and found that 9% of the sample had at some time been forced to have sex by their partner. to the exclusion of other sexual activity. the more disadvantageous these factors. Violence outside of this interaction was unusual and it was primarily a way of expressing power. sometimes while the act was being filmed for later use as pornography. Finkelhor and Yllo (1985) categorised forced sex in marriage into three types. The degree to which a victim is traumatised by a violent assault is related to a number of variables. commonly referred to as pre-assault. based primarily on the Groth Typologies (1979). ‘Force only’ rapists. strength. as another way of humiliating and degrading them. (1992) reports similar rates of sexual abuse in homosexual and lesbian relationships. Only 10% of marital rapists fell into this category and those that did were found to have bizarre and perverse sexual interests. • 12% had been battered only. © FPP Ltd 1999 9 of 50 Domestic Violence . 1.• 4% had experienced forced sex but no other physical violence • 14% had been raped and battered. sometimes with an object.

when someone with a history of prior trauma is severely assaulted. the response of the Criminal Justice System and the reaction of their support network. these factors predict the likelihood of someone being able to extricate themselves from the relationship and how likely they are to suffer severe trauma. Added to this. they are unlikely to be able to gather the resources to leave the abusive situation. ii) Assault factors Assault factors refer to the nature and severity of the attack. someone who is psychologically robust who experiences a moderate attack and excellent support from the police and social networks is less likely to place themselves in a position where they will be re-assaulted. For example. one might hypothesise that each successive assault © FPP Ltd 1999 10 of 50 Domestic Violence . that the effects of violence are incremental. iii) Post-assault factors Post-assault factors refer to a number of different issues. The reality of a real life situation is often a complicated combination of the above three factors. On the other hand. it is evident when these factors are considered. if the response of those around them is ‘they must have done something to deserve it’. they are probably less able to cope. the response of the perpetrator to the assault. with the pre-assault factors and post-assault factors commonly becoming more disadvantageous with each incidence of violence. I) Pre-assault factors These refer to the degree to which the victim was ‘psychologically robust’ prior to the assault/s taking place. Firstly. may also follow a pattern of escalation (in terms of frequency and severity) which may further disadvantage the victim. experiences of life stressors. Assault factors. The factors influencing this variable may include demographic and psychosocial aspects of the victim. the degree to which they believed their life to be threatened and the nature of their relationship with the perpetrator. However. On the basis of this information. both personal and professional. the quality of relationships they have experienced in the past. such as the type of violence used. Added together. previous experiences of assault and factors in their personality influencing how they attribute blame. which vary form individual to individual.Responses to violent assault are primarily moderated by the following variables.

Some of the psychological effects of repeated victimisation are outlined below. This stage is characterised by intense feelings of isolation and powerlessness that leads the victim to © FPP Ltd 1999 11 of 50 Domestic Violence . Symonds. i) Immediately following the violence the victim enters a state of shock. Also. It is important to not only consider the direct impact of these experiences. In doing so. but also to consider a more global picture of how these reactions would effect the victims view of the world and other people. Often it is clear to the worker that the perpetrator cannot or will not change their behaviour and that the victim is at significant risk of harm or death while the relationship is continued. (1980) describes the acute response to victimisation as having four distinct stages. denial and delusion. ii) When the victim perceives the reality of the situation they enter the second stage which Symonds describes as ‘terror-induced pseudo-calm’ or ‘frozen fright’. Each victim will experience a unique reaction which may include one or. workers often find themselves managing clients whose behaviour they find at best worrying and frustrating and at worst angering and disabling. it is possible to come some way in providing an understanding of the victim’s behaviour. The degree to which the victim is aware of these facts varies from individual to individual. The Stages of Victimisation. disbelief. more commonly. The issue that is often most perplexing for those working with victims of domestic violence. is that of understanding why the victim remains in the abusive relationship and exposes themselves to further violent attack. Victims of repeated violence can be seen to pass through a number of predictable stages in their adaptation to what has happened to them. a combination of the following syndromes. Psychological Effects of Repeated Violence A number of common consequences of domestic violence have been extensively documented over the years. the degree to which the individual can act upon their appraisal of the situation also varies between individuals.reduces the psychological robustness of the victim and thus increases the likelihood of further assault. For these reasons.

fear and increased startle response). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. i) Re-experiencing the event. which commonly occur together. 1979) iv) Finally. It is as if the offence is happening in the here and now. The latter two features will be discussed more fully elsewhere. 1979). auditory. The person may suddenly feel that the event is actually recurring in the present. olfactory. iii) The second stage gives way to a delayed coping response of rumination and ‘keeping busy’. the victim may begin to ‘identify with the aggressor’ (see below). tactile and affective modes of reexperiencing the event. Within the four stages of victimisation. There are three major areas of disturbance. smell. the victim may experience any of the other effects of domestic violence described below. These experiences are usually triggered by a feature of the environment that is similar to the abuse (such as a sight. For this © FPP Ltd 1999 12 of 50 Domestic Violence . These behaviours often include compliance. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome or cluster of symptoms. submission and ingratiation. which may involve a review of one’s life and with vows to change if given another chance (Strentz. namely: • re-experiencing of the event (in the form of thoughts and feelings) • avoidance (of situations that are the same or similar) • hyper-arousal (such as anxiety. sound. This constitutes a significant attitude shift in the victim and has been referred to as ‘pathological transference’ by Symonds. If this stage persists.separate his/her consciousness from his/her body. the victim enters a stage referred to as ‘traumatic psychological infantilism’ that is characterised by the victim losing their ability to live as an adult and consequently regressing to behaviours first learned in early childhood. The most common forms of re-experiencing the event are the following: • Flashbacks – including visual. or place) and these events are completely beyond the control of the victim. This type of dissociation is reported by victims of domestic violence (Walker. as a means of coping.

or feel so isolated that they believe that nobody else can understand their problems. for example avoiding being alone with the perpetrator. For this reason. danger or helplessness. • The victim may engage in avoidance of thoughts or feelings associated with the abuse. hobbies. Nightmares often happen several times during the night and the victim wakes feeling as if the abuse had just recurred. • Inability to recall an important aspect of the abuse. • Avoidance of activities or situations that arouse recollections of the abuse. Sometimes victims feel as if they are ‘on the outside looking in’ at their situation. • Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others. nightmares can severely effect daytime functioning. • Markedly diminished interest in significant activities such as work. • Intrusive Thoughts – these are often thoughts about the event. avoid situations that are frightening or anxiety provoking. ‘forgetting’ certain aspects of the violence and so on. particular buildings or other situations reminiscent of the violence. such as blocking out the pain involved. © FPP Ltd 1999 13 of 50 Domestic Violence . Victims sometimes feel ‘invisible’ to others and as if they are ‘just going through the motions’ of living their life. The thoughts may intrude to the extent of disturbing normal cognitive functions. For example the victim may ‘block out’ the violent incident from their memory.reason it may feel to the victim as if they are being abused several times every day and they are therefore in a perpetual state of trauma. These thoughts may take the form of excessive rumination. the thoughts are intrusive in that they are not invited or deliberate and occur whether the victim wants to think about the issue or not. may avoid other situations where they are at risk. such as going over and over the events in an attempt to make sense of them or work out what they could have done differently. children. In addition. ii) Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma or numbing of general responsiveness. perpetrator or self and are commonly felt to be beyond the control of the victim. avoiding pubs or parties. • Nightmares – these may take the form of a straightforward reliving of the actual abuse or may be symbolic of a symptom such as fear. Chronic sleep deprivation may follow due to avoiding sleeping (when the victim avoids relinquishing control to the nightmares) or from disrupted sleep patterns due to the constant waking and trauma. social life.

. have focussed on this phenomenon. feeling constantly ‘on guard’. • • • Difficulty in falling or staying asleep. This means that the victim no longer able to experience the full range or depth of emotional experiences. This is drawn from DSMIV (American Psychiatric Association. A full account of the syndrome of PTSD is provided at the back of this document. In the crimes in question. four bank employees were held captive for 131 hours and during the course of their captivity.g. Stockholm Syndrome. 1994). they grew to become more afraid of the police who were trying to free them. In victims of violence this may include an attenuation of the anger and distress you might expect after assault and a diminished capacity to experience positive emotions such as love. begin to identify closely with the power of the aggressor in order to avoid facing their own helplessness. enjoyment or happiness. and is provided for information only and should not be used as a diagnostic tool. where the victim comes to identify with the aggressor. palpitations and panic attacks. particularly on prisoner’s of war and Jewish prisoners in Nazi prison camps. © FPP Ltd 1999 14 of 50 Domestic Violence . e. where the victims. Sweden. particularly upon exposure to events that symbolise or resemble an aspect of the abuse. constantly tense and anxious. This syndrome is characterised by the hostage victims developing a set of unexpected and positive feelings towards their captors. as psychological and/or physical hostages. Parallels have been drawn with victims of domestic violence. a number of studies. Strentz (1979) cited Anna Freud’s concept of identification with the aggressor. the ego identifies with the aggressor/authority figure to avoid punishment and anxiety. they expressed gratitude towards the latter for sparing their lives. iii) Persistent symptoms of increased arousal. than of their captors. Hypervigilance. Increased physiological activity such as sweating. On release.• Restricted range of affect often occurs. Since this time. The term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was coined following two highly publicised hostage takings in Stockholm. shaking. whereby in a life-and-death situation with a powerful authority figure.

it is important firstly to acknowledge the cyclical nature of domestic violence. Frude (1980. friends and other support and so on. the perpetrator may initially continue his hostile attitude or display a period of sullen silence. After the violent act. an escalation of anger and emotional distress as a response to the situation and finally a lack of inhibition with regards to violent expression in response to a trigger. occurs after a period of escalation. the perpetrator frequently expresses regret. However. become more nurturing. avoid family. © FPP Ltd 1999 15 of 50 Domestic Violence . In order to understand this phenomenon. cook a favourite meal. eventually. Often the victim is aware of the futility of these behavioural changes and becomes increasingly afraid as the inevitability of violence becomes apparent. asserts that the cycle is made of up of three stages – a tension-building phase. Perpetrators of repeated violence against an intimate other are very commonly observed by their partners and professionals to repeatedly engage in a cycle of emotions and behaviour that is commonly known as ‘The Battering Cycle’. the victim may try to appease the perpetrator. the perception of the situation as threatening (which may be unrealistic). even in the face of extreme danger. The victim of domestic violence is often acutely aware of this cycle and in fact adapts their behaviour in response to the cycle. it does little to explain why the victim’s attachment to the perpetrator persists and often grows stronger. victims persist in returning to their partners.Traumatic Bonding Although the general literature portrays a convincing account of the traumatic sequelae to repeated victimisation. The final stage of this escalation process is the commission of a violent act. 1989). becomes tearful and makes promises that it will never happen again. For example. try to reason. The victim readily recognises the tension building stage and adapts their behaviour in order to try to prevent the violence stage. describes a more complex cycle – the presence of a stressful situation. a period of acute violence and a state of reconciliation. ‘Traumatic Bonding’ provides a theoretical rationale for this behaviour and helps to explain why. Walker (1979). Behavioural change in the victim cannot prevent the attack which.

the victim may try specific tactics to protect themselves. Generally. though not always. VIOLENT ACT Triggers De-escalation of angry feelings and regret Escape (tension building) THE BATTERING CYCLE Reconciliation Perception of threat Stress and tension Hope Following the attack.During the attack. based on what they think has helped in the past. However. over time and as the traumatic effects lift. the victim may leave the relationship for a period. (1997) combines the work of the above two authors into the following diagrammatic representation of the cycle. Browne. the victim is often seduced by the regret and promises of the partner and therefore returns to begin the cycle all over again. such as remaining silent or not retaliating. abused children tend to become increasingly attached to their abuser. has little bearing on the outcome and the perpetrator continues the attack until the psychological tension is sufficiently reduced. the ‘reconciliation’ stage. and hostages become © FPP Ltd 1999 16 of 50 Domestic Violence . but the characteristics of this cycle and the ways in which the victim and perpetrator behave within it that compel them to continue. It is not uncommon for the victim’s life to be completely governed by the existence of the cycle and the necessary adaptations to it. At this stage. Dutton (1995) argues that it is not characteristics of the victim or perpetrator that maintain the violent relationship. Dutton points out that intense emotional attachments between the abused and the abuser are not uncommon and have been extensively observed in other populations. cult members are often very attached to abusive cult leaders. the response of the victim during the attack. For example. the victim may initially be clear about the danger they have been in and feel certain that the relationship is over.

beating. Fromm 1941. with one person intermittently harassing. In addition to this. they identify further with the powerful person. is the notion that power imbalances build upon themselves. Power Imbalance – wherein the maltreated person perceives himself or herself to be subjugated to or dominated by the other. the power differentials within the relationship are symbiotic in that the powerful person becomes increasingly dependent on the subjugation of the victim to enforce their sense of power. Power Imbalance. McClelland. where the person holding the power comes to perceive themselves as more powerful in the light of another’s lack of power and the less powerful person perceives themselves as increasingly less powerful in relation to the other. thus increasing their dependency and attachment. He refers to this process as Traumatic Bonding – ‘the development of strong emotional ties between two persons. threatening. 2. increases the sense of personal power (Becker 1973. After the violence has ceased. A profound power shift can be seen to occur in the contrition stage of the battering cycle described above. Most importantly. This dynamic is further fuelled by shifts of power within the relationship. In looking at all the above relationships where traumatic bonding occurs. 1975). abusing or intimidating the other’. regret and complete © FPP Ltd 1999 17 of 50 Domestic Violence . Attachment to a more powerful other or larger more powerful group. the perpetrator of the assault experiences remorse. and this is also true in intimate relationships. Examples have already been cited of hostages. The intermittent nature of the abuse. there are two features of the relationship that are evident and are described by Dutton as follows: 1. As the person holding least power becomes increasingly aware of their powerlessness. prisoners and cult members. lion 1977.attached to the hostage taker. The perpetuation of this cycle can lead to intense emotional bonds within relationships and comes some way to explain the intense attachment and ’need’ for the other that exists in relationships where domestic violence is taking place. and the victim becomes dependent on the powerfulness of the other to increase their personal sense of power and overcome feelings of helplessness.

fear and so on) followed by pleasant periods. Rather that the power imbalance is a perception particular to that relationship. In this instance. the pleasantness of which may be further enhanced by relief at the removal of the negative conditions. The Intermittent Nature of the Abuse. but where periods of relative normality exist in between bouts of violence. Behaviour that is reinforced intermittently is extremely difficult to change. this is particularly so. typically tries to reverse the process by seduction. The second feature of traumatic bonding is the intermittent nature of the abuse. © FPP Ltd 1999 18 of 50 Domestic Violence . The victim is therefore subjected to periods of extremely aversive conditions (violence. extreme stress. reinforce the behaviour. Reinforcement of behaviour increases the likelihood of it occurring again.powerlessness when the victim rejects or even leaves them. This is a useful angle as it moves away form the notion of negative stereotypes that have become associated with victims. by the power dynamic itself”. intimidation and sometimes further violence (this explains why victims are sometimes at greater risk of violence when they have just left a relationship). Of particular importance in this theory is that it does not assert that there is necessarily (though there may be) a pre-existing ‘weak victim’ or ‘powerful perpetrator’ prior to the commencement of the relationship. Dutton describes this ‘dance’ of power shifts as the process by which “both persons become welded together to maintain the psychological subsystem which fulfils the needs created. The victim on the other hand may experience a sense of increased power in the clarity of the post-assault period when it is possible to take stock of the other’s behaviour and escape the relationship. in part. in recognising this power shift. either physically or emotionally. In Learning Theory or Behavioural Psychology this is known as an ‘intermittent schedule of reinforcement’. The perpetrator. where the dominant party intermittently abuses the victim. which in this instance is engagement in the relationship. The powerfulness of the bond between the victim and the perpetrator is thus increased. When an element of randomness or unpredictability of the reinforcement is introduced. both the removal of negative conditions and the pleasantness of the periods in between. This combination of circumstances constitutes a powerful ‘behavioural cocktail’. Gambling is very obvious example of behaviour that is powerfully maintained by random intermittent reinforcement.

I think I can anticipate and control his outbursts). b) lowered self esteem. The theory of Traumatic Bonding is complex and can be explored more fully in Dutton. flashbacks. he’s trying to change) b) denial of danger (things aren’t so bad. disbelief. (1995). If the removal of an aversive experience is reinforcing. Secondary complex a) idealisation of the abuser (he’s really sweet underneath.An important implication of viewing domestic violence in this way is that it helps to explain why an escalation in the severity of the violence does not always lead to a termination in the relationship. and therefore is likely to return to the relationship while the perpetrator is contrite and therefore able to provide plentiful reinforcement. However. ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’ is composed of the following signs and symptoms: • Exposure to a relationship with repeated intermittent abuse. Primary complex a) trauma symptoms. ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’ (Walker 1979). Although this term implies that the syndrome applies exclusively to women. • Consequently. The victim now associates relief of anxiety and stress with the presence of the partner through the process of conditioning that has already taken place. psychic numbing. the victim experiences. © FPP Ltd 1999 19 of 50 Domestic Violence . learned helplessness. there is no reason to believe that men would not experience similar symptoms in the event of exposure to repeated intermittent abuse. depression) may soon lift to be replaced by the huge anxiety of losing this powerful emotional attachment. then the greater the reinforcement when it is removed and the more powerful the reward of the return to pleasantness. anxiety. the strength of this model lies in its exploration of the dynamics within the relationship rather than simply exploring the ‘pathology’ of the participants. anxiety. If the victim does leave the relationship. then the more aversive the condition (the greater the violence). hyper-arousal. Thus the cycle becomes more powerful in determining the victim’s behaviour and their desire for reinforcement. the post-trauma symptoms (shock. intrusive recollections.

The Victim’s View of the World. a benevolent place. Details of their presentation may be found in the general literature on Mental Health. is a change in the way the world is viewed. Nonabused people tend to see the world as a just place. One of the possible results of being abused. Other Emotional Effects. and one over which we have some mastery. Most of us believe that what happens to us is a result of our behaviour. “people get what they deserve”. • Depression • Repressed anger • Anxiety • Guilt • Shame • Low self-esteem All the above psychological consequences to assault are common.. Cognitive Changes. The primary complex described above relates to the traumatising effect of repeated violence and has been compared in the literature with PTSD. • Loss of the ‘Just World’ view. but it serves the purpose of allowing us to feel reasonably safe. This view allows us to feel reasonably safe in the world as it lends an element of predictability to © FPP Ltd 1999 20 of 50 Domestic Violence .e. even after the relationship is over. which in turn leads to resistance to any therapeutic work.c) Suppression of anger (I’m not angry with him). it often means that the victim will persist in their attachment. “If I am good to others they will be good to me”. people who have been abused. The second stage represents the victim’s maladaptive way of coping with persistent danger and the consequences of traumatic bonding. lose the ability to see the world this way. Often. To some extent this is a distorted view of the world. Although the secondary complex is the victim’s way of coping. i.

and believe that the universe has somehow singled them out for bad treatment and that they are doomed. When the victim believes that they are immersed in a malevolent and unjust world where anything can happen to them. non-traumatised people tend to attribute benevolence to the world with regard to the likelihood of positive experiences occurring exceeding those of negative experiences. • Loss of the ‘benevolent’ view of the world. (Interestingly. Furthermore. that it probably will and that there is nothing you can do to control it. Traumatised victims lose this sense of benevolence and instead replace this with malevolence that is us usually attributed to those around them. Generally. guilt. For this reason. Within this style is embedded the notion that any if anything bad happens it must be your fault (for being bad) and if anything good happens. For this reason it is common for victims of domestic violence to believe that they must be ‘bad’ or must in some way ‘deserve’ the violence. and allows us to place faith and trust in the wider structure of existence. victims prefer not to lose this view of the world and instead attribute any negative events to their own behaviour. If the victim is unable to attribute meaning to the event. resulting in a loss of trust of others and a belief that those around them want to hurt them.) Victims of domestic violence also have to make sense of what has happened to them. it is very common for this reason for many of us to attribute negative qualities to the victim in order to make sense of the world. then it must be down to someone else. It also attributes meaning to our lives. The ability to protect yourself is fundamental to self-efficacy. To some extent this is an over-optimistic view of the world. A common symptom amongst victims is that they blame © FPP Ltd 1999 21 of 50 Domestic Violence . • Loss of mastery. victims can develop a style of thinking referred to as the ‘abuse dichotomy’. but it serves the purpose of allowing us to feel safe. Some victims extend this notion even further. the victim is constantly in search of safety.the future. This essentially means that the victim loses the connection between their own behaviour and the outcome for them. This state can lead to a sense of helplessness in the victim and a sense that at any time something bad can happen. anger and a variety of other emotional responses. This in turn can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. Even though in reality the world is quite a dicey and dangerous place. their view of the world being a ‘just world’ is lost. the onus on them to protect themselves from these ‘forces’ is greatly magnified. This is also a common cognitive shift in domestic violence victims. fearful of helplessness and fearful of loss of control. which in turn is related to a sense of self.

For example. I can change my partner/the situation. For example. Examples of how victims think about themselves are below: • Characteristics of the self . • Responsibility – the abuse is my fault. I do not have any rights. helpless. I can prevent further violence by changing my own behaviour. not slicing the bread correctly. Victims of domestic violence often describe a very distorted view of themselves. © FPP Ltd 1999 22 of 50 Domestic Violence .I am bad. However. I must have done something bad for this to happen. good events are some one else’s doing. It is very common for the victim to internalise (accept as their own beliefs) the cognitive distortions held by the offender about the violence. if you believe that it was your fault for not loving your partner enough. These processes overlap and are inextricably linked. The first process relates to the changes in the victim’s view of the world and how they come to understand what has happened to them (as detailed above). The Victim’s View of Themselves. then you can prevent it happening again by changing your own behaviour.themselves for the abuse occurring. • The abuse dichotomy – bad events are my fault. I have to do what I am told. I deserve this. Two processes are primarily responsible for these phenomena. The second is a process by which the victim internalises the cognitive distortions held by the perpetrator of the violence. • Punishment – I am bad so I have to be punished. that the offender did not intend to harm them or that the offence was not the perpetrator’s fault. I am dirty. the victim may believe that it was their responsibility to stop the offence taking place. The reason this happens is that it allows them to control whether or not the abuse happens again in the future. This is the reason that victims often cling to their own cognitive distortions about offences being their fault. if you believe that the assault occurred because your partner has personality problems and needs to control and dominate you at all costs. then this could happen again at any time. I can control my partner’s behaviour. I am at fault. Accepting responsibility for the violence therefore allows the victim a greater sense of control and therefore a perception of greater safety. wearing the wrong clothes or being late home from work. I deserve to be beaten. These are known as victim ‘content thinking errors’.

(often sympathising with the perpetrator) and deny themselves any sympathy. i. Alcohol is to blame for his/her violence. He/she gets a bit rough.e. The victim in contrast develops a malevolent view of the world and constantly expects bad things to happen to them.On the other hand. Examples of Specific Cognitive Distortions. ‘victim blame’. offenders often display ‘super-optimism’. the victim believes the opposite about themselves – that their needs are unimportant/must be deferred and that they ‘should’ have done something to prevent it. Externalisation of Blame/ Distortions of Responsibility. Stress at work is the cause of the violence. whilst perpetrators ‘victim stance’ (see themselves as blameless victims of circumstance and seek pity). © FPP Ltd 1999 23 of 50 Domestic Violence .. He/she is a really lovely person underneath. Similarly. This means that they take responsibility for the offence. It’s just ‘acting out’. Also. where perpetrators believe that their needs are paramount and that they can do nothing to stop themselves being violent. Moral justifications. victims do the opposite. We had a ‘fight’. victim ‘process thinking errors’ tend to take the form of the opposite to the offender’s thinking errors. He/she is not really a violent person. It was just ‘a slap’. If he/she didn’t drink alcohol he/she wouldn’t be violent. He/she (the perpetrator) is just misunderstood. Our little problem. a belief that they are untouchable and can get away with anything. For example. He/she does this because they were abused as a child. I must provoke the violence in some way. I forced him/her to do it. Euphemistic Labels.

If I change my behaviour I can prevent it happening again. It was a mistake/accident. just a few bruises. When he/she threatens me. they would never seriously harm me. Denial of Intent. My father abused me so it must be something about me that asks for it. Violence is a way of showing love. He/she didn’t intend to harm me. I wasn’t seriously injured. © FPP Ltd 1999 24 of 50 Domestic Violence . He/she just loses control. Anyone would have done the same (meaning violence). Minimising the harm/nature of the violence. I am worthless. He/she does this because they love me. If I don’t provide sex. they don’t really mean it. It is safer to stay because at least then I can control the situation. I can take the insults. It was just a push. It will never happen again. Nobody else could love me. I’ve got broad shoulders. Internalisation of the Perpetrator’s Denigration of the Victim. Super-optimism/denial of risk.It is the man’s responsibility to discipline their wife. like some do. he/she has the right to beat me. At least he/she doesn’t use weapons. It was on one-off. He/she says it will never happen again and I believe them. It wasn’t rape because I didn’t say ‘no’. I deserve it.

Gender/culture based distortions. This may be a symptom of the perpetrators jealousy and insecurity. it’s just that I don’t cope as well as others (victims). Research has demonstrated that good support systems actually reduce the frequency and severity of violence. • Reluctance to seek any kind of help. • Giving up hobbies or interests. 1986). and therefore social isolation is placing the victim at increased risk. © FPP Ltd 1999 25 of 50 Domestic Violence . (Levinson. Everyone is violent to their partner. • Leaving work. The victim may also withdraw in an effort to keep the secret of the violence within the home. • Withdrawal from family relationships. Women must obey their husbands. an effort to prevent the victim seeking help or to prevent the victim engaging in social interactions that would boost their self-esteem. 1985: Jaffe et al. Sex is an entitlement in marriage. The man should always be in charge.. Social Isolation. Common examples are: • Withdrawal from friendships (particularly with the opposite gender).He/she says I am mad. The social isolation may be achieved by violence or intimidation or by a subtle process of undermining the victim’s other significant relationships. Men are strong. Behavioural Consequences for the Victim. Often the victim is placed under significant pressure from the perpetrator to avoid social contact with friends. I ‘belong’ to my partner. If the domestic chores are not done the woman deserves to be beaten. In marriage you just have to put up with it. family or professionals. women are weak. perhaps I am.

© FPP Ltd 1999 26 of 50 Domestic Violence . The Protection of Children. In the paragraph above. often accompanied by depression. • Self-injury/mutilation. anger. Inherent within this process is denial of the risk posed by the violent party. For this reason. • Eating disorders. or psychological harm from witnessing violence or being used as a pawn or weapon within the relationship. this involves the children of the family and any negative effects that domestic violence could have on them. Victims of domestic violence are often severely psychologically compromised. • Suicide/suicide attempts. humiliation and senses of helplessness and hopelessness. Chronic fear and anxiety are common. it is very common amongst victims to find efforts to cope that are maladaptive and which create problems in their own right. This process of cognitive distortion can extend to the victim’s consideration of the risk that significant others within the family face. but they also undergo a series of emotional and cognitive changes which have wide implications for how they see the world and the people in it. It is likely that these symptoms will persist while the victim remains in the relationship and for a considerable time after the relationship has finished. it is possible that a victim of domestic violence may not be able to protect his or her children from the harm that may occur within the family. For this reason. Experiencing domestic violence can create a number of emotional states that the victim finds hard to manage. Not only do the have to repeatedly face the traumatic physical and emotional effects that occur as a direct result of violence. Typically. Common examples are: • Alcohol abuse. • Drug abuse. we have described the cognitive distortion that occurs in order to allow the victim to stay within the relationship. This harm may take the form of direct violence.Maladaptive Coping Strategies. denial of the likelihood of it ever happening again and the victim’s acceptance of some/all of the blame for what has happened. denial of the extent of harm the victim has suffered. guilt.

At a more complex level. Deciding who does the assessment. Ideally this would be someone with whom the victim already has a good relationship and with whom they are able to communicate openly. Secondly.Assessment of Victims of Domestic Violence. they may have contact through victim services. The appropriateness of assessment work is clearly dictated by the context of the contact. If the Probation Officer decides that assessment is necessary. it is more a matter for consideration with the victim. Finally. Probation Officers may come into contact with victims of domestic violence in a number of different ways. General Principles. The Context. © FPP Ltd 1999 27 of 50 Domestic Violence . Always ask the victim how they feel about this issue. and also how the victim has behaved in the past with workers of both genders. they may have contact with them because they are also offenders in some way. thought should be given to whom is the right person to do this assessment. At a basic level this should be someone who is very familiar with the nature and consequences of domestic violence and is familiar with the assessment techniques outlined below. The same guidelines should be applied to any cultural issues. There are no rules in this regard. It is a good idea to give some consideration to gender issues at this stage as individual differences amongst victims mean that they are likely to respond in different ways to different gender workers. Consideration should be given to the gender of the perpetrator and how this will impact on the relationship with the worker. Firstly. they may have informal contact with the victim because they are working with the perpetrator. consideration should be given to whom is most able to provide the safety and support that is required during the assessment period.

Is this the right time to be doing the assessment? Getting the timing right can enormously improve the quality of the information gleaned from the assessment. Handled correctly. depression and other means by which the victim copes. is likely to try to avoid the assessment itself. © FPP Ltd 1999 28 of 50 Domestic Violence . who avoids painful issues by whatever means. This may be the first time that the abuse has been spoken about openly or in any detail.Finally. the level of trauma induced by discussing the details must not be underestimated and prior thought must be given to the nature of the likely consequences. it is preferable for the assessment to be conducted by someone who will then have ongoing contact with the victim. not judged or criticised and that someone is able to know of the violence without rejecting them or developing negative feelings towards them. The following are issues to consider: • Does the victim wish to be assessed? • Is this the correct timing in terms of the development of the PO/victim relationship? • Is the victim able to acknowledge that domestic violence has occurred and has had an impact on their functioning? • Is this the right time from a psychological point of view? • Is this the right time in terms of the victim’s social context? • Are you able to guarantee an ongoing commitment to the victim in terms of contact? • In what ways will the assessment process impact on the victim’s relationship with the perpetrator and what implications does this have for the victim’s safety? What are the likely effects on the victim? Assessment of domestic violence is a traumatic experience for the victim. For example someone who self injures may do so in the course of the assessment and the same applies to substance abuse. Using what you know about how the victim copes with emotional issues. However. violence. this can be a therapeutic experience for the victim in that they can learn that they are believed. you can predict their response. Continuity of care is essential for a variety of reasons including the development of trust and safety and avoiding the need for repetition. It is worth noting that someone.

volunteers or organisations such as Women’s Aid. • Assessment of the person’s readiness to and ability to bring about change. Having decided who is responsible for assessing the victim. including cognitive. friends. • Assessment of suitability for referral to other agencies for help. © FPP Ltd 1999 29 of 50 Domestic Violence . • Assessing the dynamics of the relationship in which it occurs.For these reasons. • Assessment of the psychological impact of the violence on the victim. PTSD etc. Careful assessment MUST precede any interventions. The focus of the assessment is determined by the purpose it serves. • All the above to inform the probation officer of appropriate interventions. Other assessments. a common problem in families. The Purpose of The Assessment. It is important to ensure that the supporters are comfortable with that role. • Assessing the nature and frequency of the violence. Assessment may have a number of different functions. and even more important to check that they are not in any way collusive with the perpetrator. • Initial assessment of psychological state such as the presence of depression. it is a good idea to set up a support network prior to starting the assessment. This may involve family. it is important to focus clearly on the exact purpose or purposes of the assessment. prior to referral to Mental Health specialists. emotional and behavioural changes. • Assessment of specific behaviours that may be the consequence of domestic violence. for example: Risk assessment • Risk of injury/death from perpetrator • Risk to themselves through self-injury or suicide • Risk they present to others such as children and potential victims of their violence/other offending. self-injury. such as alcohol abuse.

• Social factors maintaining their position. It is important to only use methods with which you are comfortable and competent. • History of psychological vulnerability such as mental illness. • Witnessing violence within the family. emotional or sexual abuse.Where multidisciplinary teams are already involved. people do not suddenly find themselves in problematic situations and there are often factors and conditions in their background that predispose them to particular problems or vulnerabilities. Generally speaking. • Other major life events such as bereavement or other losses. • Previous violent/ abusive relationships. In the course of an assessment it is likely that new information will be revealed about the perpetrator and his actions. etc. • The nature of their male/female role models. For this reason. suicide/self. the client is likely to disclose information that may have implications for the safety of themselves and others. eating disorders. © FPP Ltd 1999 30 of 50 Domestic Violence . In taking a full personal history on a victim of domestic violence significant findings in the personal histories of the victims might include the following: • Previous physical. full personal histories should be taken where possible. For this reason it is ESSENTIAL to set clear and limited confidentiality boundaries BEFORE work begins. • Indicators of low self-esteem. Some or all of the following methods may be appropriate for the person concerned. it is essential to share your thoughts with the team and come to some agreement about the preferred route and method of assessment. Also. • Evidence of avoidance coping style or other indications of difficulty in solving problems.harm. Full Personal History. Assessment Methods The choice of assessment methods is dictated by the purpose of the assessment. It is far easier to understand someone’s problems when they are viewed in the context of their personal history.

Full History of the Abuse. moving on to physical and sexual abuse over time and with an escalation in frequency and severity). you need to accurately assess the victim’s perspective of the situation if you are to understand the factors that are maintaining either the relationship or the psychological consequences to the violence. A full history of the abuse is essential in understanding the problem. victims have a tendency to minimise the nature and extent of the abuse or miss out significant areas such as sexual abuse. psychological and sexual abuse (see the list at the beginning of the document for examples). Also. • Is the victim also violent/abusive within the relationship? • Are any other members of the family involved? • How did the abuse come to light? • Are any other agencies involved and what has their response been? What is the Victim’s View of the Situation? In assessing this component. considerable sensitive probing may be required. • Is there evidence of the cycle of abuse previously described? Explore each party’s behaviour within the cycle. For this reason.The above are examples only. the history should include the following: • Details of how and when the victim met the perpetrator. as this is likely to inhibit the assessment process. Most importantly. This has arisen over time and is likely to be deeply embedded. you should expect to find a considerable degree of cognitive distortion in the victim. The personal history is the main way of assessing pre-assault factors as outlined in the introduction. • How frequently do the different components of the abuse occur? • Full details of the nature of the physical. © FPP Ltd 1999 31 of 50 Domestic Violence . Victims are often no longer clear about what constitutes abuse and what does not. • Details of when the abuse began (including psychological abuse) and how this has progressed over time (often abuse starts with psychological abuse. It is important not to challenge cognitive distortion at this stage. At a basic level.

psychometric tests might assess areas that might otherwise be forgotten or omitted. However. Also. The features of the relationship dynamics and the psychological consequences for the victim are inextricably linked and are therefore discussed together. but as an interview guide for future intervention. In addition. you should try to elicit the victim’s view regarding their wishes for the relationship and their view of how realistic these wishes are. several or all of the phenomena described. Firstly. The psychological consequences to the abuse and the dynamics of the relationship will explain the reasons for this to the worker and allow a constructive approach. behavioural symptoms. it is worthwhile assessing what the victim anticipates to be the consequences of leaving the relationship. which outlines cognitive effects. Psychological Consequences/ Relationship Dynamics. Completed questionnaires are valuable not simply because the ‘quantify’ the problem. the victim will also need to understand these issues in the course of intervention. It is essential that this area is carefully explored. Psychometric Assessment. victims are sometimes able to be more honest in questionnaires than in interviews because their responses are private (at the time of answering).In assessing this area. There are a number of advantages to using psychometric assessment in addition to the techniques outlined above. who may or may not be available. this is not always the © FPP Ltd 1999 32 of 50 Domestic Violence . reference should be made to the earlier section of the document. Ultimately. Stockholm Syndrome. The disadvantage of psychometric assessment is sometimes they need to be administered and interpreted by a psychologist. as these may be significant. depression. Victims often experience considerable stigma and prejudice as a result of their repeatedly returning to a violent relationship. traumatic bonding. It is important to refer to the previous section on the effects of domestic violence on the victims when assessing this area. the questions may jog their memory for forgotten issues and the existence of a questionnaire about the problem somehow normalises it. such as PTSD. and the other issues discussed. Secondly. The worker should be looking for evidence of one.

1982) • Trauma Symptom Checklist (Briere and Runtz 1989). However. Risk Assessment. the picture is a little muddied by the fact that you are often measuring the likelihood of someone being a victim. They outline several key stages in the process of change and the worker’s intervention needs to be designed according to which stage the victim is currently at. It is further complicated by the fact that domestic violence is sometimes interactive and both partners may be contributing to the overall risk in some way. However. In order to simplify the situation it is important to © FPP Ltd 1999 33 of 50 Domestic Violence . Prochaska and Diclementi (1986). This does not indicate that the victim is in any way to blame for the violence. Risk assessment in the event of domestic violence follows the same rules as other risk assessments. 1982 & NiCarthy. often the best way for the victim to protect themselves is to leave the relationship or to change some of the psychological factors that continue to place them at risk. provide a model for understanding the stages of change. and the worker is advised to consult the individual tests or their FPP representative. • Psychological Maltreatment of Women Inventory (Tolman. • Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus 1979) Readiness to Change. It is important to assess the victim’s readiness to rather than the likelihood of someone committing a crime. Dutton & Painter (1993) • Attachment Scale (combined questions from Kitson. Common issues in domestic violence that can be assessed using psychometric tools are:  PTSD  Risk of suicide/self harm  Conflict resolution  Anxiety  Anger/hostility  Depression  Eating disorders More specific measures are also available: • Intermittency of Abuse Scale. 1989) • Severity of Violence Against Women Scale (Marshall 1992). It is important to assess this area if you are to maximise the efficacy of your (or others’) interventions.

Therefore. only use factors to measure that risk that directly impact on the likelihood of this happening and do not confuse this assessment with assessment of other things. So. By definition.. Examples of dynamic risk factors for perpetrators of DV might be: © FPP Ltd 1999 34 of 50 Domestic Violence . This means that if you are measuring the risk of self harm. all of which must be present: • They are factors about the individual • They are closely related (i. these factors cannot change as they are fixed points or historical in nature. breadth) • Does the perpetrator commit other crimes? • Is the perpetrator violent towards others? The above issues are Static Risk Factors. the more likely it is to happen again. in order to measure risk it is important to take into account Dynamic Risk Factors. such as the likelihood of re-offending. The more often something happens. Then you measure them. they contribute) to the offending behaviour • They can change over time So. Firstly. the more likely it is to happen again.e. Also. in the case of measuring the likelihood of a victim being assaulted again it would be essential to measure the perpetrator’s behaviour along the following lines: • How many times has the perpetrator assaulted the victim? • What was the nature of the assaults (severity.remember the golden rule of risk assessment – only measure one risk at a time. The following procedure is essential to risk assessment and is described more fully in the work of David Thornton on the Anchored Structured Model of Risk Assessment. you assess whether they apply to the individual and whether they are related to the behaviour of concern in that individual. it is important to remember that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. the broader the range of behaviour of this type (the breadth principle). The first stage of risk assessment is to perform some sort of qualitative and quantitative analysis on the behaviour of concern. Next. the second stage of assessment is to consult the research to find out what factors about the individual are related to the behaviour of concern. Dynamic risk factors are characterised by the following features.

depression. Dynamic risk factors for victims might include cognitive distortion.• Anger dyscontrol • Power issues • Poor conflict resolution skills • Impulsivity • Cognitive distortion • Lack of victim empathy Risk therefore either increases or decreases according to changes in the dynamic risk factors.. self-harm) and the risk presented to others from the victim. A similar risk assessment should be conducted for the victim in terms of their past behaviour and current dynamic risk factors. Interventions with Victims of Domestic Violence How to Chose an Intervention. The risk to the victim will therefore be a combination of these two risk factors. alcohol abuse and so on. It is important to seek advice if you are in doubt about any of the above assessment procedures. Risk assessment is a complicated process and it may be that you need to seek advice on issues such as the nature of dynamic risk factors and how to measure them. and the choice of a theoretical approach and style that is acceptable to the victim. the matching of the assessment outcome with an intervention that has been demonstrated to be effective in addressing these problems in this group of individuals. Separate risk assessments need to be conducted regarding the risk to the victim from their own behaviour (e. © FPP Ltd 1999 35 of 50 Domestic Violence .g. The efficacy of any intervention is closely related to the degree to which the intervention is matched to the needs of the individual. This refers to the accuracy with which the problem is assessed.

because this may not be realistic and may reflect the entrenched cognitive distortions that victims develop. On the other hand. it is important to give thought to whom else might be placed at risk as a result of this decision.. These vary between individuals and within individuals over time (i. as there are likely to be ongoing psychological consequences for the victim. more complex interventions are required. Possible desired outcomes are: • Want to leave the relationship. Firstly. However. they are likely to change their mind!). intervention does not stop here. • Want the relationship to continue but the violence to stop (this is the most common). Interventions. However. If the latter option is expressed. Clearly different interventions are required for different outcomes. work is required by both parties in the relationship. A common example is the risk that children face of damage as a result of witnessing or being otherwise caught up in violence. initial focus should be on how this can be achieved safely. © FPP Ltd 1999 36 of 50 Domestic Violence . more complex psychological issues are at play and may require expert intervention. In considering the last two outcomes.e. It is beyond the scope of this document to offer in detail descriptions of the full range of theoretical approaches. principles and techniques for intervening in this issue. • Do not want to change the relationship or want help to change the violence. not just the victim. If the victim wants to leave the relationship. where the victim does not want to change the relationship or take steps to change the violence. If the victim wants to maintain the relationship but stop the violence.The first item for consideration is the nature of the outcome that the victim desires. On the other hand. broad outlines are offered and suggestions for further reading offered at the end of the document. if it is realistic. intervention may be completely refused which is the victim’s right to do so.

• That it may help to make the police aware. Firstly. Furthermore. • That the victim takes any essential personal effects to avoid returning to the home. if the victim manages to stay out of the relationship. If the victim has decided to leave the relationship. • Ensuring that the victim has access to money and personal documentation. the probation officer can assist in a number of ways. this can be facilitated and the risk to the victim reduced by planning. then the probation officer can assist in the more socially based issues by offering accommodation. interventions must be aimed at motivating the person to preserve their own safety. by anticipating the relationship dynamics that often emerge and draw the victim back towards the perpetrator. • That the victim makes links with an appropriate self-help organisation. it must be remembered that the risk to the person is somewhat magnified after leaving the relationship. • Planning where to stay that presents the least risk. This would include: • Planning a time when the home can be left safely. or by referring them to someone whom can. so ongoing risk management strategies must be developed. Finally. • That careful consideration is given to issues around the children (letting the school know etc) After the victim has left. financial or legal advice.Leaving the relationship. if the victim has already left the relationship as a result of an emergency. Also. © FPP Ltd 1999 37 of 50 Domestic Violence . In addition. risk issues must be taken seriously and a plan made to preserve ongoing safety. • That legal advice is sought. Women’s organisations suggest that an ‘escape plan’ should be made in advance if there is time. they will have ongoing psychological needs as a result of the harm they have sustained. it is likely that victim will be tempted to return to the relationship when their own shock has abated and the perpetrator is in the contrition stage of the cycle (see previous sections). If the victim has not yet left the relationship.

A small minority offer counselling on an individual basis. Independence and self-help is emphasised Repeated therapeutic contact is recommended.Use of Refuges. Harkell and Nixon. A realistic and immediate plan is formulated. (1995) describes the use of ‘reality therapy’ in refuges and outlines eight steps to help battered women: The client is made to feel accepted and cared for: • she is allowed to relate details of experiences • assurance is given that she is not different • help is offered The client is asked what she did to end the abuse in the past: • a change in her own behaviour is emphasised Each description is evaluated Client’s goals for change are evaluated. it must be borne in mind that one third of victims leave refuges to return to their partner. The main objective of refuges is to offer shelter on an emergency basis for women and children (refuges for men are not yet available). but a greater number offer help through group ‘house meetings’. Although this approach provides unique opportunities for victims. 1985). break the cycle of violence. © FPP Ltd 1999 38 of 50 Domestic Violence . (Binney. • In doing so. 1981. The aims of these meetings are to: • Offer support • Combat isolation • Empower women from being victims to being survivors • To allow recognition that others endure similar violence and therefore reduce guilt and stigma. Client’s commitment is evaluated. Whipple.

at least in the short term (Sherman and Berk. Powers of Arrest Police have the power to arrest perpetrators of violence to partners for ABH or ‘behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace’. 1986). Berk and Newton.38%. Secondly.2% (of the 6. Injunctions Under the 1976 Domestic Violence Act. Conviction rates for marital rape are encouragingly much higher than for spousal physical assault alone.5%. if detected. Men can now be prosecuted for ‘marital rape’ as a result of an exemption recently being abolished in GB. The extent to which the perpetrator is motivated to change their behaviour is central to a decision regarding the suitability of this arrangement. The first is a ‘Non-molestation Order’ which states that the perpetrator must not use violence against the partner or children. two types of injunction are now available to victims. Subsidiary orders can be attached such as the Power of Arrest or an interim Custody Order. However. Approaches to managing this situation are divided. Jaffe et al.Use of the Legal System. Staying in the Relationship but Wanting the Violence to Stop. In addition they are now allowed to compel victims to give evidence against their partner under the Criminal Evidence Act (1986). The propensity to commit acts of violence does not just ‘wear off’ nor does it necessarily decrease with age. he estimated that the likelihood of an incident of ‘wife assault’ being detected was in the region of 6. 1984. (1987) presents rather disheartening information regarding the likelihood of abuse being punished in the courts. Victims should therefore be encouraged to report violence to the police where possible.5%). The overall probability of punishment by the court was then estimated at 0. Research evidence indicates that the involvement of the police reduces the likelihood of further attack on the victim. Dutton. Rape. Exclusion Orders dictate that the perpetrator leaves the marital home and stays away from it. Thereafter. 1985. From his studies in Canada. the most dangerous perpetrators of violence continue to do © FPP Ltd 1999 39 of 50 Domestic Violence . the probability of arrest was 21. In fact. This includes mental violence.

Generally speaking. resolution of this issue requires a lot of active participation form both the perpetrator and the victim. In addition. others can be addressed by non-mental health professionals such as Probation Officers. Group experiences are very powerful as they come some way in reversing some of the components of domestic violence. Therapy for victims can be provided by specialist groups/organisations or by community Mental Health professionals. Some of these symptoms will require specialist throughout their life. The task of intervention should include the following: • Giving information about domestic violence (this alone can be very empowering and should be the first stage of any intervention). individual therapy provides privacy and a closer relationship with the therapist in which to talk about painful issues. an approach that fits the needs of the individual needs to be taken. Therapy for the Victim Alone. A decision also has to be made in conjunction with the victim about whether group or individual approaches are more suitable. © FPP Ltd 1999 40 of 50 Domestic Violence . This can be done via the victim’s GP or via local arrangements with mental health services. guilt and the sense that victims develop of their problem being unique. shame. On the other hand. each victim may have a unique constellation of symptoms. PTSD. anxiety. stigma. A number of information sources are suggested at the end of this document. suicidal feelings and so on) it is necessary to make a referral to the local Mental Health Services. If there are mental health issues (depression. such as loneliness. • Reducing isolation and loneliness through organisations or support network. If there are no mental health issues. the Probation Officer might agree with the victim which issues to work on together in the course of their on-going contact. local organisations for helping victims should be contacted for information. Sometimes both are necessary. As already outlined. Therefore. some may best be addressed by working with other victims of domestic violence.

The decision tree shown overleaf is designed to help practitioners identify appropriate interventions. motivated and willing to attend all sessions.) Often individual work can be carried out in conjunction with that of the mental health workers. the perpetrator needs to be in agreement. where the power dynamics of the relationship inhibit the victim from speaking openly because of intimidation or fear of repercussions. Conjoint Treatment. Conjoint treatment is a controversial issue but it is commonly requested by the victim in the hope of resolving the issues in the relationship. It is only appropriate to suggest this type of treatment if there are NO IMMEDIATE safety issues for the victim or other members of the family. In all multidisciplinary working. it is help with decision making concerning victims. clear communication is essential. Also. etc. When the violence is interactive (in both directions) this may be an appropriate intervention. self injury. Although primarily designed for perpetrators. unless expertly managed. then it is unlikely that therapy will be effective.Addressing the following may be necessary: • cognitive distortion • shame/guilt/stigma • anger • self-esteem • personal boundaries • empowerment/problem solving • gender roles • safety issues • maladaptive coping (alcohol abuse. Also. © FPP Ltd 1999 41 of 50 Domestic Violence .

Cited in Browne.Treatment of Spouse Violence: Assessment Decision Tree. 1986. 1997) Presenting Couple NO Exit Is violence occurring? YES Possible shelter referral and police involvement NO Is the wife safe? Are children safe? NO YES NO Is wife aware of resources and shelter service? YES Mandatory referral to child protection services Referral to women’s support group. (From Rosenbaum and O’Leary. men’s workshop or individual therapy depending on specific needs NO Does the couple wish to live together? YES NO Are both spouses willing to participate? NO YES Select a treatment plan YES Is remediation reasonable? Can violence be controlled? CONJOINT COUPLE COUNSELLING and/or or MENS VIOLENCE GROUP and/or or CONJOINT COUNSELLING and MENS VIOLENCE GROUP and/or Alcohol Treatment Programme if necessary © FPP Ltd 1999 42 of 50 Domestic Violence .

especially where there has been ongoing and escalating violence. Consideration should be given to the role of the following: • Social services and other child protection agencies. Only under circumstances where there are clear mental health issues. can the responsibility for protecting their safety be taken from the victim. However. They may also fear ‘rocking the boat’ as they have come to believe that if they lose that relationship. and it is common for child protection services to be involved (whether the victim wants it or not) when children are placed at risk. is that victims commonly come to believe that they can control the other person’s violence by giving in to greater demands or changing in the ways that the perpetrator wants them to. depression and otherwise low self-efficacy. local risk management policies must be followed closely. Moreover. it is the victim’s right to chose whether or not they wish to receive help. • Domestic Violence Units in local police services. the victim accurately perceives the increased risk of violence that is associated with leaving the relationship or confronting the perpetrator. Finally. if appropriate. the victim may have internalised the cognitive distortions of the perpetrator and accepted that they are to blame for the violence. such as learned helplessness. and of concern. • Community mental health professionals. Secondly.Staying in the relationship and not wanting intervention. Any children in the family may also be at risk. nobody else will ever want them. Victims who express a wish to stay in the relationship but refuse help are particularly at risk. Firstly. and commonly. Multidisciplinary working is particularly essential in these circumstances. they may have psychological problems as a result of the violence. © FPP Ltd 1999 43 of 50 Domestic Violence . and therefore finds it more acceptable from a safety point of view to do nothing. There are a number of reasons why the victim may not accept help in reducing the violence they are experiencing. If it is believed that the victim (or others) is at ongoing risk. This may not apply to the protection of other members of the family however.

Refuges and housing for battered women. D. Fourth Edition. M. Briere. 614-22. Dobash. J.(1987).G. A. V. and Herbert. R. 151-162. Browne. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.G. 50: 253-262. Dutton.. J. R. IL: Free Press. Surrey: Guilford Press. This should take a multidisciplinary format. Berk. (1989). 11(3): 189-206.. R.. Law and Human Behaviour. Dutton. & Newton. References American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. L. Violence against Wives: A Case against Patriarchy. P. E. it is essential that the professionals involved take steps to manage the ongoing risk. Becker. and Dobash. S. Binney. (1979). © FPP Ltd 1999 44 of 50 Domestic Violence . E. M. Whatever decision the victim comes to about intervention. P.J. (1985). Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives. P. Private Violence and Public Policy: The Needs of Battered Women and the Response of the Public Services. Dutton. 4(2). G. and Runtz. D. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. (1993) The Battered Woman Syndrome: Effects of severity and intermittency of abuse.Risk Management.. K. London: Open Books. (1973) The Denial of Death. The trauma symptom checklist (TSC-33): Early data on a new scale.. and Dobash. In J Orford (Ed) Coping with Disorders in the Family. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Repeated and ongoing risk assessment is required as factors and conditions change. London: Wiley. R. (1985) Does arrest really deter wife battery? An effort to replicate the findings of the Minneapolis spouse abuse experiment. Pahl (Ed).169-193. D. usually in the form of a risk conference. Reference should be made to the section on risk assessment. 63(4). E. (1987) The criminal justice response to wife assault. Violence Towards Wives.. Dobash. (1997). Preventing Family Violence. & Nixon. pp. R. & Painter. In J. G (1995) The Domestic Assault of Women.. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. American Sociological review. Glencoe. Harkell.

© FPP Ltd 1999 45 of 50 Domestic Violence . Fromm. (1986) The impact of police charges in incidents of wife abuse. London: HMSO. D. Marshall. (1991) Intimate violence in lesbian relationships: Discussion of survey findings and practice implications. Frude. D. 7(2). Lie. and Austin. and Young. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. (1992) Development of the Severity of Violence against Women Scales. Kitson.A.181. New York: Holt. (1985) License to Rape: Sexual Abuse of Wives. Reading. A. L. (1941) Escape from freedom. P. 26(5). MacLean. Ewing. Journal of Family Violence. Finkelhor. (1979) Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender.. 15(1-2). Journal of Family Violence. (1990) Confronting Domestic Violence: Effective Police Responses. In M..Evason. J. (1982). Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Maung. N. J. E. (1986) The Islington Crime Survey: Crime. London. Jones.. MA: Lexington Books. (1993) The 1992 British Crime Survey.. Frude (Ed) Psychological Approaches to Child Abuse. N. Journal of Marriage and the Family. New York: Avon. (1982). 41-59. E. Wolfe. pp136-150. Levinson. Hants: Gower. Stuehling.. Rinehart & Winston. (1978) Images of Violence against Women. Reese. K.G. Lexington. E.N. B. 379-93. Mayhew. In N.. C. A Home Office and Research and Planning Unit Report. Current Anthropology. B. T. Roy (Ed) Battered women: A psychological study of domestic violence. D. Chichester: Wiley pp. 665-666. & Yllo. M. G. J. 2: 510-524. N. Frude. Victimisation and Policing in Inner-city London. P. (1985) On wife-beating and intervention. G. (1989) The Physical Abuse of Children. London: Batsford.. Battered Women Who Kill A Psychological Self-Defence as Legal Justification. Aldershot.. & Stubbing. & Gentlewarrior. Groth. (1980) Child Abuse as Aggression. 103-21. Lexington. Victimology. MA: Heath. G... S. J.155. 1(1): 37-49. New York: Plenum Hart. C. Journal of Social Service Research. Attachment to the spouse in divorce: A scale and its application.. L. Lion.. Telford. A. In K Howells and C Hollin (Eds) Clinical Approaches to Violence. (1987) Battered Women Who Kill: A Psychological Self-Defence as Legal Justification. [Cited in Morely and Mullender (1994)] Jaffe. and Mirrless-Black.. P. A. 44. (1977) Clinical Aspects of Battering. C.

M. Newbury Park... M. R. 49:261-272. A.O and DiClemente.McClelland. Department of Social Policy and Social Work [cited in Morely and Mullender. R. R. C. (1979). Straus. B. Jacobson and A. Journal of Marriage and the Family. (1985) Is family violence increasing? A comparison of 1979 and 1985 national survey rates. 61: 339-346. J. K. Painter. New York: Guilford. In N. A. (1982) Getting free: A handbook for women in abusive relationships. R. NY: Anchor/Doubleday. C and Farrell. A Survey of spousal violence against women in Kentucky. Rosenbaum. (1980). Home Office Research Study No. (1986) Towards a comprehensive model of change. Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family (rev.. J. A.R Miller and N. & O’Leary.. A. 107.. Washington DC: US Department of Justice.. Phillips. Faculty of Economic Social Studies. Garden City... Gelles. L. 75-88. & Berk. Sampson. Smith. Star. University of Manchester. A.W. August [cited in Morley and Mullender 1994] Procahska. G.. Sherman. Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology. 41. Schulman. (1984) The specific deterrent effects of arrest for domestic assault. London: HMSO. Straus. Gelles. (1980). S. Survey Report: Key Findings and Recommendations. A. Washington: Seal Press. T. I. L.. J. Gelles. (1979) Law Enforcement Policy and Ego Defences of the Hostage. (1991) Strategy for the Manchester University Violent Crime Prevention Project. New York: Halstead. M. G. 2. (1991) Wife Rape. Straus. (1979) Measuring family conflict and violence: The Conflict Tactics Scale. 1994] Pease. Heather (Eds) Treating Addictive Behaviours: Processes of Change. Law Enforcement. (1980) Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. In W. Social Casework. Gurman (Eds) Clinical Handbook of Marital Therapy. J. S. (1975) Power: The inner experience. Marriage and the Law. Strentz. & Steinmetz. D. Straus. (1986) The treatment of marital violence.D. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.. edition). A.. & Steinmetz. American Sociological Review. Seattle. M. (1989) Domestic Violence: An Overview of the Literature. M. (pp3-27) New York: Plenum Press. K. Croft. CA. NiCarthy. K.. San Diego. CA: Sage. Patterns of Family Violence. © FPP Ltd 1999 46 of 50 Domestic Violence .C.

L. • Preventing Family Violence (1997). 36-41. Robert. Self-help/Advice Lines. 4(3). Martin. Newbury Park. L. Walker.. (1989) The development of a measure of psychological maltreatment of women by their male partners. a website is available: www. Whipple. 5: 22-27. V. May advise regarding legal matters and facilitate refuge referrals (there are 300 nationally). Yllo. Evaluation and Change.. Recommended Reading. The helpline is open 10am-5pm Mon-Thursday. The John and Kelly Hartman Series . UBC Press: Vancouver. Violence and Victims. Welsh Women’s Aid is available on 01222 390874 Refuge 24hr National Crisis Line – 0990 995 443 This organisation offers support and advice 24hrs a day 7 days a week and can also organise refuge places for women and children throughout the UK. pp. Tolman. Donald Dutton (1995). K. Friday 10am-3pm. power and Gelles and D. CA: Sage.R Loseke (Eds) Current Controversies on Family Violence.womensaid.Symonds. R. (editor). Journal of Reality Therapy. In R. Local Women’s Aid can be contacted outside of these hours from local phone books. Kevin and Herbert. 158-77. Special issue. © FPP Ltd 1999 47 of 50 Domestic Violence . (1993) Through a feminist lens: gender. D. Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives. 4762. (1980) The ‘second injury’ to victims and ‘Acute responses of victims to terror’.. • The Domestic Assault of Women. Women’s Aid National Helpline – 0345 023 468 This service offers advice and information.M.E.Issues in Children’s and Families’ Lives. Wiley nd • Family Violence (2 edition) – Prevention and Treatment. New York: Harper & Row. (1985) The use of reality therapy with battered women in domestic violence shelters. (1999) Hampton. Browne. (1979) The Battered Woman.

– 0181 644 9914 Information for men experiencing domestic violence. Free confidential line for anyone concerned about the welfare of children. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder . or horror. Run by women. London Rape Crisis Centre. Local numbers from telephone book. Shelterline – 0808 800 4444 This organisation provides emergency access to refuges. National Child Protection Helpline (NSPCC) 0800 800 500. A. There are some local groups in the UK. Women’s Therapy Centre – 0171 263 6200 Offers information about the service and other provisions relating to women’s mental health. The line is open 9am –10pm on Monday and Wednesday. Victim Support – 0845 30 30 900 Advice and support is offered. This is free and confidential and there is no requirement for the offence to have been reported to the police. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: 1) the person experienced.DSM IV Criteria. or threat to the physical integrity of self or others 2) the person’s response involved intense fear. The Samaritans – 0345 90 90 90 24hr support for anyone in crisis. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways: © FPP Ltd 1999 48 of 50 Domestic Violence . B. or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury.Men’s Advice Line and Enquiries. helplessness. witnessed. A telephone line for women and girls who have been sexually assaulted.

5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolise or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event. 4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.C. 3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma). © FPP Ltd 1999 49 of 50 Domestic Violence . unable to have loving feelings). as indicated by three (or more) of the following: 1) efforts to avoid thoughts. thoughts or perceptions. hallucinations. 2) efforts to avoid activities. does not expect to have a career.. C. 3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience. places or people that rouse recollections of the trauma. children. Duration of the symptoms (B.1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event. and dissociative flashback episodes.g. D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma). or normal life span). illusions. 3) difficulty concentrating 4) hypervigilance 5) exaggerated startle response. 5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.. marriage. E. 6) restricted range of affect (e. as indicated by two (or more) of the following: 1) difficulty falling or staying asleep 2) irritability or outbursts of anger. including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated. feelings or conversations associated with the trauma. including images. 7) sense of a foreshortened future (e. 2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event.D) is more than one month. 4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolise or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.g.

F. occupational or other important area of functioning. © FPP Ltd 1999 50 of 50 Domestic Violence . Can be acute/chronic/delayed onset. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment of social.