Body's Healing System
Violence in Couples is Usually Calculated
Some say that violence is part of the American psyche...but it doesn't have to be. We need practical solutions for our stress, aggression and communication habits. There ARE better solutions than violence.
Violence between couples is usually the result of a calculated
decision-making process and the partner inflicting violence will do so
only as long as the price to be paid is not too high.
Loss of Control Differs at Home and Work
This is the
conclusion of a new study by Dr. Eila Perkis at the University of
Haifa. "The violent partner might conceive his or her behavior as a
'loss of control', but the same individual, unsurprisingly, would not
lose control in this way with a boss or friends," she explains.
Law-abiding, Normal People...Outside!
this new study, carried out at the University of Haifa's School of
Social Work, Dr. Perkis examined intimate violence based on the fact
that in most cases the offending partner is a law-abiding individual
living a normative life outside of the family unit. Dr. Perkis says
that in most cases the couple continues living together and sustaining
a shared family unit, so it is important that we learn to understand
the dynamics of such partnerships in order to treat them.
Family Dynamics of Intimate Violence
Dr. Perkis divided intimate violence into four levels of severity:
- verbal aggression;
- threats of physical aggression;
- moderate physical
- severe physical aggression
Verbal Violence Escalates
"These four levels follow
one another in an escalating sequence; someone who uses verbal violence
might well move on over time to threatening physical attack, and from
there it is only downhill towards acting on the threat," she explains.
Dr. Perkis warns however, that the results of this study should not be
correlated to cases of murder, since the dynamics between couples in
such cases are different and such offenses are not included in the
chain of violent acts being examined.
The researcher found that
acting on each type of violence is calculated, such that the violence
constitutes a tool for solving conflict between the partners.
of the couple sits down and plans when he or she will swear or lash out
at the other, but there is a sort of silent agreement standing between
the two on what limits of violent behavior are 'ok', where the red line
is drawn, and where behavior beyond that could be dangerous," she
She adds that when speaking of one-sided physical violence,
most often carried out by men, the violent side understands that for a
slap, say, he will not pay a very heavy price, but for harsher violence
that is not included in the 'normative' dynamic between them, he might
well have to pay a higher price and will therefore keep himself from
Leaving or Reporting the Incident...Is a Heavy Price to Pay!
"A 'heavy price' could be the partner's leaving or
reporting the incident to the police or the workplace. As such, it can
be said that violent behavior is not the result of loss of control and
both sides are aware of where the red line is drawn, even if such an
agreement has never been spoken between them," she says.
for Solving Conflict
to Dr. Perkis, it is important to point out that use of violence is not
a normative behavior; it is illegal, and of course, immoral. Therefore,
it is only the violent partner who is culpable for the act.
Nevertheless, once we understand that violence is being used as a tool
for solving conflict between a couple that is interested in staying
together, we can help them subdue such behavior by providing them with
better tools to cope with the source of tension and conflict in their
"In couples therapy for partners who express the
wish to stay together, therapy must be focused on identifying
illegitimate motives, such as nonnormative tactics for solving
conflict, and assisting the couple in acknowledging their ability to
convert destructive patterns into effective ones and ultimately to run
their lives better," the researcher concludes.
- Identify illegitimate motives
- Tactics for solving conflicts
- Ability to change destructive patterns into effective ones
- Run lives better
Editor, Carolyn Allen
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