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Domestic Violence; a Process Not an Act

Updated on January 23, 2023
qeyler profile image

I have helped write the Domestic Violence Act and have lectured on the subject for many years.


Domestic violence is not an Act, it is a Process.

It is a process in which in a steady pattern the identity of the victim is eroded by the abuser. It is not a random act of violence, be it physical or verbal, it is a step by step procedure where one becomes a victim of the other.

The process of Domestic Violence alters the comprehension of the victim to whom abuse becomes 'normal'.

The Textbook Paradigm

Regardless of where you live in the world, your personality, economic status, or culture, abuse tends to follow a particular path.

This is the standard pattern of Domestic Violence.

The victim must be slowly and methodically demeaned until the savagery becomes normal.

I am creating a composite of a relationship as how the process begins and continues using the example of Kyle and Jenna.

The Stage is Set

Kyle pursued Jenna with a single mindedness and undeviating love which made her feel exalted.

Exalted, as well as somewhat guilty. For Jenna didn't love Kyle as he seemed to love her. No man she had ever met was as 'into' her as he was.

Jenna felt she had the upper hand, that she controlled the relationship.

She loved the way Kyle made her feel. He treated her as if she were the most wonderful woman in the world, and when he asked her to marry him, she agreed without question.

The First Signs

They were on their honeymoon when Kyle said something which hurt her so
badly Jenna began to cry. Kyle consoled her.

Confused, doubting her perceptions, she cried in his arms, and he made love to her.

She couldn't align what he had said to his passionate lovemaking, and long after it was over, the confusion remained.

It dissipated a little over the next few days, until he said something else which reduced her to tears, and again he consoled her.

He didn't apologise, he didn't explain. He made her cry, then consoled her.

His words and his actions were so diverse, she didn't know where she was.


From the first days of married life, Kyle mentioned how her family/friends didn't like him. He indicated persons who wanted to pull them apart.

He was always upset if she went to have lunch with the girls or visited her family, or met an old friend; everything seemed to be 'them' or 'me'.

She began to cut her relationships with others, even her job took second place. She devoted as much time as she could to Kyle.

Eventually her world was 90% Kyle, everyone and everything else postponed and limited.

The Next Stage

Eventually, when Kylie tossed a zinger, Jenna didn't cry. She had become so used to his remarks they provoked her anger.

As this emotional abuse no longer operated, he moved to intellectual abuse. He would criticize everything she said or did or thought as if she were very stupid.

It wasn't obvious at first. It seemed a 'debate', where she might state a fact or an opinion and he would state a counter-fact or an obverse opinion.

Often, she assumed he was right and she was wrong. She had no one to verify information. She and her family and friends were no longer close enough to share ideas.

Soon enough, Jenna began to doubt everything she had believed or assumed, because Kylie seemed to know for a fact, where she was uncertain.

She began to defer to him for even the simplest information, for she no longer trusted herself.

Spiritual Abuse

Although Jenna could not put it into words, Kyle very much controlled how she saw events.

If he was excited about a party, so was she. If he didn't want to go, neither did she ...even if she had at first been enthusiastic, Kyle was the final arbiter.

Kyle had rules and reasons, and Jenna tried her best to obey them. If Kyle did not want her to do something or speak to someone, she didn't.

The 'penalty' she paid for disobedience was coldness, anger, insults, it just wasn't worth it.

Jenna learned to clear everything with Kyle to avoid dissension. She learned to be indifferent until he told her how she felt.

Being married, she told herself, was losing the 'I' for the 'We.'

Verbal Abuse

Kylie began to insult her. He would shout at her, even in public. He called her stupid, and nothing she did was right.

He spoke of her in the worst terms to everyone he met. In fact, most of his conversation was wife bashing.

He ridiculed her, and there was very little she did that pleased him. In fact, when she did something 'right' he would express disbelief that an idiot like her could actually remember from one minute to the next.

Physical Abuse

The FIRST time he hit her, he broke down and cried. It was her fault bringing out the worst in him. She felt so sorry that she had 'forced' him to hit her.

After that, she knew it was Her fault every time he struck her. She caused it. If she hadn't....if she had only remembered.... but she had forced him to lose his temper and hit her.

She learned how to hide the bruises with makeup or to explain them as caused by an accident or falling down stairs... whatever worked.

After all, why should he be blamed for hitting her when she caused it?

The New Normal

Over time, Jenna became accustomed to being beaten.

She never thought of herself as a battered wife. Her situation was 'different'. She was the aggressor. She caused it. She was not a victim. Kyle did his best, she was too demanding, too critical. It was her fault.

This is how it was...

For the Sake of the Children

They had two children, and when Davey, the big one, was four years old, Kyle beat him for knocking over his milk.

Jenna had expected Kyle would slap the boy, not beat him. When she interceded, Kyle turned on her.

The little one, Howie began to scream and couldn't stop. Kyle went to beat the two year old to shut him up.

And that's when Jenna realised she and the children were victims of domestic violence.

That is when Jenna realised she had to protect her children. She didn't care about herself. She cared about her children.

She knew Kyle wouldn't let her go but she had to get her children to safety.

How to send the children out of danger, and get Kyle to agree to it was her first thought. Her safety wasn't important, she had long resigned herself to being an object. Long given up her personhood.


If Jenna and Kyle's relationship is familiar to you, then you understand domestic violence.

This is not a normal marriage.
This is not a normal relationship.
This is domestic violence.

It may be no more than him saying things to make you cry right now, but it WILL escalate.

If you find yourself segregated from your family and friends, this is a precursor to abuse. This is getting rid of witnesses and possible intervention.

If you need to verify everything with him, he is an abuser. You may be at an early stage of abuse; understand, it doesn't stop there.

Some relationships may not go to the physical violence, the verbal is enough. The words used and how they are said are as powerful as slaps and kicks. But verbal abuse, is abuse.

Don't wait for it to get worse.

Get Out!!!!!

Getting out of this relationship is a matter of life and death. You must escape.
You must get away.

You are not being dramatic, you are not misreading.



If you think there is a good explanation, if you want to list a series of things she did to 'deserve' it, then you have become accustomed to Domestic Violence. You think it is normal.

This should scare you.


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