What does Groupthink have to do with Domestic Violence, trauma bonding-trance, coercive control, or October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, reminds us of the hidden aspects of this crime, historically supported by public indifference, social misinformation, and the attractive and applauded, yet often detrimental Groupthink perspective. And while being agreeable generates quiet and harmonious spaces, it is in the discomfort of debates, and controversy, that novel research, treatment, new policies and ideas frequently unfold.
In times of popularism, social loyalties and other group-related pressures, clinicians must protect the integrity of theoretical novelty, clinical curiosity, critical evaluation, and creative scientific research discoveries. In recent years, there has been a strong push for Groupthink submission and obedience, at the expense of vital and spirited Thinking-Tanks. Even our language is expected to follow trends and modernization, sacrificing historic terms and the richness of their embedded, and hard-earned narrative. It is essential that we respectfully and equally honor both, and attempt to integrate what is important, especially as it relates to clinical matters, and domestic violence education.
How victims of domestic violence have been empowered, assessed, and supported in recent years are modest examples of psychosocial Groupthink evolution. It has only been in recent times that the blame has shifted from the survivors to their perpetrators. Unfortunately, victims continue to be the ones removed from their homes and placed in shelters, while their perpetrators suffer little or no immediate legal consequences.
‘Why did you stay?’ Fortunately this common inquiry to victims of domestic violence social inquiry has evolved to a more appropriate question: ‘How can we support you?’ In truth, the reasons victims remain with their abusers are enormously complex and, in most cases, based on the frequent coercions and intimidations their perpetrators have used in the past to keep them captive.
A survivor, writing in a blog post, stated another reason why victims stay, “what makes it hard to leave a predator is not the lack of awareness that they are destroying our lives. It is the brain protecting itself by inducing ‘abuse amnesia’ and deleting the bad memories.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month was launched in US in October 1987 to raise public awareness and to unite organizations with those individuals working on these same issues. Since then, October has been a time to acknowledge domestic violence survivors and be a voice for victims. Domestic violence impacts every community, and has consequences for people regardless of sexual orientation, religion, age, socio-economic status, gender, race, cultural background, or nationality. Over the past few years, significant progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals.
Common Barriers to leaving a Domestic Violence relationship:
- The fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent and may become lethal if the victim attempts to leave.
- Unsupportive and uneducated friends and family
- Knowledge of the difficulties of single parenting and reduced financial circumstances
- The victim feeling that the relationship is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation, and fear.
- The victim’s lack of knowledge of or access to safety and support
- Fear of losing custody of any children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear the abuser will hurt, or even kill, their children
- Lack of means to support themselves and/or their children financially or lack of access to cash, bank accounts, or assets
- Lack of having somewhere to go (e.g., no friends or family to help, no money for hotel, shelter programs are full or limited by length of stay)
- Fear that homelessness may be their only option if they leave
- Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may not support divorce or may dictate outdated gender roles and keep the victim trapped in the relationship
- Belief that two parent households are better for children, despite abuse
Other Societal Barriers to Escaping a Violent Relationship:
- A victim’s fear of being charged with desertion, losing custody of children, or joint assets.
- Anxiety about a decline in living standards for themselves and their children
- Reinforcement of clergy and secular counselors of “saving” a couple’s relationship at all costs, rather than the goal of stopping the violence.
- Lack of support to victims by police officers and law enforcement who may treat violence as a “domestic dispute,” instead of a crime where one person is physically attacking another person. Often, victims of abuse are arrested and charged by law enforcement even if they are only defending themselves against the batterer.
- Dissuasion by police of the victim filing charges. Some dismiss or downplay the abuse, side with the abuser, or do not take the victims account of the abuse seriously.
- Reluctance by prosecutors to prosecute cases. Some may convince the abuser to please to a lesser charge, thus further endangering victims. Additionally, judges rarely impose the maximum sentence upon convicted abusers. Probation or a fine is much more common.
- Despite the issuing of a restraining order, there is little to prevent a released abuser from returning and repeating abuse.
- Despite greater public awareness and the increased availability of housing for victims fleeing violent partners, there are not enough shelters to keep victims safe.
- Some religious and cultural practices that stress that divorce is forbidden.
- The socialization of some made to believe they are responsible for making their relationship work. Failure to maintain the relationship equals failure as a person.
- Isolation from friends and families, either by the jealous and possessive abuser, or because they feel “ashamed” of the abuse and try to hide signs of it from the outside world. The isolation contributes to a sense that there is nowhere to turn.
- The rationalization of the victim that their abuser’s behavior is caused by stress, alcohol, problems at work, unemployment, or other factors.
- Societal factors that teach women to believe their identities and feelings of self-worth are contingent upon getting and keeping a man.
- Inconsistency of abuse; during non-violent phases, the abuser may fulfill the victim’s dream of romantic love. The victim may also rationalize the abuser is basically good until something bad happens and they have to “let off steam.
Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million women and men yearly.
Ongoing Domestic Violence training is not only clinically responsible, but a social aspiration, it is ultimately a significant call to action, and a robust way of supporting victims. As a Society,n by participating in this effort to create Domestic Violence Awareness we are taking a stand and reminding the world that there are still countless individuals affected by domestic violence.
Collectively we need to uncompromisingly work until society has zero tolerance for domestic sadistic violence, and until all victims and survivors can be heard, protected, and offenders timely removed of harm’s way. We must bring consciousness and understanding to the perils of domestic violence for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and throughout the year.
“Solo una mente educada puede entender un pensamiento diferente al suyo sin necesidad de cambiarlo o aceptarlo” – Anónimo
“Only an educated mind can understand a thought different from his own without having to change or accept it” – Anonymous