FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Violence Against Women

How can I recognize an unhealthy relationship?

  • he is jealous and possessive, does not let you have friends, constantly checks you, does not accept breakup;
  • he tries to control you by ordering and making all the decisions, does not take into consideration your opinion;
  • you are concerned about how he will react to what you say or do, he threatens you, owns a gun;
  • he blames you for his bad behavior, says that you have provoked him, and forced him to act in this way;
  • he is forcing you to have sex, he is violent during sexual intercourse;.
  • he is violent, known for fighting, quickly loses control, brags about his bad behavior to others.

Are there indications that the person is abusive?

Some of the indications may be:

  • they enter and exit relationships fast;
  • they can be very charming and seem perfect;
  • they insist that you do not engage in any activities and do not spend time with friends or family;
  • they are very jealous and possessive;
  • they do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong;
  • they criticize your appearance and often belittle you;
  • their words and behavior are inconsistent.

Such behavior is not necessarily indicative of abusive behavior, but it is important to pay attention to it.

What are common methods used by the abuser to manipulate the victim?

  • threatening to commit suicide if the victim leaves him;
  • threatening to kill the victim, children or the counselor;
  • threatening to deprive the victim of the right to custody of the children;
  • harassing the victim’s friends and family members;
  • burning clothes or items that are of a sentimental value to the victim;
  • crying and saying he can not live without the victim;
  • promising to seek help;
  • suddenly becoming pious;
  • promising to stop the abuse, to stop drinking or using drugs.

Why do victims stay with their abusers?

  • abusers are investing great effort in order to keep the victim with them;
  • there is a real fear of death or further abuse if they leave;
  • society as a whole is not doing enough to protect victims after they leave the abuser;
  • abusers are very skilled in convincing women that they are guilty for the violence that is happening to them;
  • women stay because they believe they can not survive on their own, for financial or other reasons;
  • women who survived violence sometimes want the violence to stop, but not the relationship;
  • victims often return to their abusers because they are in love with them and believe in his promises to change.

What are the characteristics of abused women?

Abuse affects all types of women in all types of relationships regardless of:

  • age
  • education
  • economic status
  • culture
  • social status
  • sexual orientation
  • physical condition

What can I do if I am being abused?

Making a decision to leave the abuser is never easy, but you should keep in mind that you are not to be blamed for the violence against you. If you are thinking about the possibilities, think of the following:

  • You and your children deserve to feel safe without physical, psychological, emotional, economic or sexual violence;
  • practice shows that over time the violence becomes more intense with serious consequences;
  • promises of the abuser that he will stop with the abuse is only one of ways of manipulating and ways to prevent you from leaving;
  • even if he stops abusing you physically, he will continue to control you through threats, isolation and intimidation;
  • even if he stops abusing you physically, he will continue to control you through threats, isolation and intimidation;

Why is it important to visit a doctor?

It would be good, both for physical and psychological consequences, to visit a doctor. The most important thing is your health, but it is also very important that you have all injuries (mental and physical) documented that were incurred as a result of violence as it will serve as proof for protection of your rights in the court. Show the doctor any injuries you may have, and tell her/him who caused them, how, when, by which means, and insist on recording it in the file. If you are a victim of rape (by a partner, spouse or another known or unknown person), you will probably want to take a bath immediately, but it would be good if you went to the doctor before to gather as much evidence of rape as possible.

Why is there a need for counseling?

Most people in their lifetime experience difficulties and problems. Unfortunately, some experiences are too difficult and painful to deal with on our own. Perhaps we can talk to our loved ones, such as family or friends, but their help and support can be of a limited scope.

Can anyone really recover from a traumatic experience such as sexual violence?

People can and do recover from traumatic events and experiences. Many women have prevailed and overcame experience from the past and moved onto a new, fuller and happier life.

Am I normal?

People who survived sexual violence and violence in general can experience a range of negative experiences such as nightmares, flash backs (experience of reliving the traumatic event as if it was happening again), intrusive memories and thoughts, severe restlessness, nervousness and depression. Counseling can help raise awareness that these experiences and feelings are completely normal reactions to an abnormal and traumatic experience.

Will I ever be the same person? 

If we look at life as a process of bodily, physical, mental, psychological or spiritual growth and development, then it is certain that every experience influences the course of our lives, changing us and directing on some new or different life paths. But we must not forget that it is us who provide strength for every life experience, are afraid, attribute to it a minus or a plus, and decide what and how much of it we will carry with us. Positive experiences empower us in thinking that we are on the right track, confirm some of our qualities, and have a potential to change us through detection of some unconscious skills or different paths and life guidance.

Experiences that are negative, that have hurt us, weakened, inhibited, discouraged, blocked, also affect our lives and change us. But this does not mean that negative experience brings negative and bad changes. We can move ahead, reveal and recognise the beauty of life despite the bad experience. The truth is that the barriers require greater effort in order to move forward, but the decision is up to us as well as the power to decide if we will move on or stay where we are.

Is it possible for the abusers to change?

  • it is not easy to stop violent behavior and change requires making a serious commitment to change behavior. Once the abuser took full control of the relationship it is difficult to transform it into a healthy relationship with equal power and compromises;
  • sometimes the abuser stops with the physical abuse, but continues with emotional, sexual or economic violence.

If someone grew up in a family in which there was violence, will he also become an abuser?

There are studies that suggest an association between domestic violence and subsequent violent behavior. On the other hand, there are many people who grew up in families where there was violence, but did not become violent.

How to initiate the process of divorce?

Divorce procedure is a marital dispute initiated by filing a complaint or request for an amicable divorce. In the event of a complaint the party initiating the process has a position of a plaintiff, and the party who is sued has a position of defendant. If both spouses are amicable about the divorce, both of them have a role of applicants.

Do I need a lawyer in the divorce proceedings or mediation?

Divorce procedure can be initiated by the lawyer who can represent you, however, this is not a legal requirement, and you can represent yourself.

How to help a woman who suffers violence?

Most women who suffer from violence are still most likely to ask for help their family members, friends, neighbors. YOU probably know a person who suffers violence or suspect that is the case. Below are a few ways in which you can help:

Provide support for her

  • listen, believe and do not judge, show her that she is not alone;
  • give her some time to make decisions, do not tell her what to do and do not pressure her into going back to the abuser;
  • allow her to talk about the beautiful moments of the relationship, do not attack her for staying with the abuser;
  • help her focus on good things associated with her ​​and her children, but do not tell her that she should stay with the abuser because of the children;
  • respect her privacy – keep the information to yourself if she asked you to.

Help her find professional help

  • inquire about civil society organizations, or institutions that can help her.

Help her make a plan of escape

  • safety comes first, and if you believe that she is in danger, tell her that and together with her develop a plan what to do in case she has to escape quickly, do not endanger yourself by confronting the abuser.
  • encourage her to prepare for a hurried departure from home, help her prepare things that she will need, such as: credit card, money, bank statements, passports, birth certificates, ID cards, keys, medicine, clothing, toys for children.

What can you say?

Give her a clear message that:

  • there is no justification for violence, and that it is never okay;
  • her safety and security of her children are the most important;
  • she is not to be blamed for the violence, but the abuser;
  • she can not change the behavior of the abuser;
  • apologies and promises will not stop the violence;
  • she not alone and that she is not “crazy”;
  • violence is not a loss of control, but rather a method used by the abuser to control others;
  • violence affects children;
  • violence is punishable by law.

It may happen that, because of the fear and confusion, she does not take any actions immediately, but be with her and help her to gather the strength to make important life decisions.

Ovaj post je također dostupan kao: Croatian