Question on Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk.
Tyler: An earlier commenter touched on this, but I want to expand it into a real question: how does a man deal with a woman using the Violence strategy? Outside Force (aka cops) isn’t as easily used by a man as by a woman:
1. As you say, female violence is more frequent/less intense, thus less likely to leave evidence. A solution to this would be in-home surveillance, but that also is a bit drastic (and perhaps costly).
2. In absence of incontrovertible evidence, it becomes he said/she said, allowing the woman to turn the Outside Force against the man, such as with a false accusation. This presumes a bias in law enforcement toward believing the female account, and I do believe such a bias exists.
Much respect for your work.
Athol: In the case of very minor incidents of violence, you have to see that as a testing the waters event. I’m talking about that first thing where they cross the line into the “that was a bit much” category. That you have to immediately call out as being unacceptable and whatever it was they wanted from that incident, you ensure they don’t get it.
So… Jennifer slaps me on the forearm in response to me saying something teasing to her… that’s not a problem. (I actually kind of enjoy it when she does that.)
But… Jennifer slaps me on the face, saying “Go get the #$%^ing groceries from the car!”… well that’s crossing the line. That I’d very firmly verbally bump back on, and the groceries would rot inside her car before I’d do anything about them. The message being a very clear “The Violence Strategy will not get you what you want” statement.
And for the record, no, there’s no hitting at the Kay Place. We do have periodic drama like every couple does, but we’re both major introverts so… huh… I guess we do self-imposed Time Outs in a double withdrawal strategy. Anyway, I digress…
Unfortunately though, most people don’t do that for the first incident of crossing the line, so it continues. In the case of continuing violence, the options are rather limited, unpleasant and somewhat depressing.
If someone is prepared to be violent in a relationship, they will continue to be violent in the relationship because it is a winning strategy to get what they want from you. Yes it’s wrong, but it does work, so they use it. It’s like the bullies as school shaking you down for your lunch money. They will keep hitting you, and you will keep handing over your lunch money until something breaks the cycle. The bully however will not one day have an epiphany that making you their personal piñata is wrong, because no one gives up a winning strategy.
So you have to accept that once someone starts being willing to use Violence against you, it will continue until something breaks the cycle.
There are four possible outcomes…
(1) You do nothing, she keeps smacking you when you’re insolent. You learn to be whatever she decides is “good” and figure out ways to apologize for things that are her fault, lose all sense of a personal identity, clean up the messes she makes and generally turn yourself into a human shield if she ever looks sideways at the children.
(2) You respond with greater Violence and hit her back harder than she hits you. Well… this might work briefly, but honestly the more predictable outcome is simply an escalation of both of you playing the Violence strategy toward the full colonoscopy of emergency services and interventions. There’s not really a winner here.
(3) You quit the relationship. Actually this may not be a bad option. If there are no kids involved and no particular reason to stay, you really may as well bail on someone who displays this level of poor judgment. I’m betting she’s not exactly a peach in the other areas of her life either.
(4) You get Outside Force involved. This is the only possible route if you want to try and address the situation and also keep the relationship intact. The trick here is that you have to make this as defensively clear that you are not the abuser as you can. Video or audio of her acting violent and/or verbally aggressive, while you are clearly not doing anything other than defensively trying to block and dodge may be helpful. If you are injured and she isn’t, head to the Emergency Room and say what happened, which will then trigger a police visit to follow up on your defensive injuries. Most likely though, the best way forward is simply making a police report by calling the non-emergency number for your local police department. I have seen a number of times that simply making a police report goes a long way to stopping violence happening.
My feeling is that that if you’re a man worried about being automatically framed as the abuser when you are the one being abused, you’re probably going to have to end up in some contact with the authorities at some point whether you like it or not. So you’re probably better off making an early approach to reporting, using the system of reporting that is in place and for lack of a better term… playing the role of the victim.
What is unhelpful is hedging your bets because of your fear you’ll get painted as the abuser, and letting things escalate further and further. That’s when you have the situations where things get completely out of hand, you’re forced to physically defend yourself more than blocking and dodging and when the police arrive on scene they find a confusing and complicated situation to make decisions about. That’s when defaulting to the idea that the larger male was the aggressor comes into play and statistically speaking, once the incidents are at the level requiring police invention, that’s a good bet for them to make.
So yeah. Options are limited and none of them are any fun to choose.
But once someone can hit you and get away with it, they don’t stop hitting you.