Do you have problem with violence?
from Learning to Live Without Violence: A Handbook for Men
published by Volcano Press
Source: Daniel Jay Sonkin, Ph.D. Readings, software,
and books for the general public as well as professionals on domestic violence
and childhood abuse. The author provides assessment tools to help individuals
and families recognize violence within thier households. This site is updated
This is an important first question to ask yourself. However, before you answer that question, let's define more clearly just exactly what violence is and is not.
When people come into group counseling they quickly learn that everyone has a different definition of the word "violence." Some people feel that a slap or a shove is not being violent, while others think that any angry physical contact can be considered violence. You probably have different definitions of domestic violence than your neighbor or the person sitting next to you in your group. In order for everyone to understand each other when we use words such as "violence," we need to have a definition that each person can begin with.
My definition may be different than yours, but at least you will know what I am talking about throughout this website. So, according to Webster's Dictionary:
Violence: Exerting physical force so as to injure or abuse
This definition is good, but not quite complete for our purposes. When I speak about domestic violence, I am talking about three different types of violence. They are:
Physical violence is probably what comes to most people's minds when we talk about domestic violence. This includes: hitting, slapping, grabbing, shoving, pushing, kicking, choking, scratching, punching, pulling, hitting with weapons or objects, physical force to make a person do something or go somewhere against that person's will. "I just grabbed her by the arm, is that violence?" Yes. No one is justified in using violence outside of self-defense. Even then, it takes considerably less force to get away from someone than to engage in a fight, retaliate or try to teach someone a lesson.
When someone forces another person to have sexual intercourse by means of physical force, the threat of force, intimidation, or by use of a weapon, it is considered rape. And that is one form of sexual violence. Sexual violence is not something that occurs only between strangers. In fact, a good number of rapes occur between individuals who know each other. Other forms include forced sexual activity (oral sex, sodomy, etc.), forced sex with animals, forcing a person to have sexual intercourse or sexual activity with another person, or forced sexual activity with objects. In many states, it is now against the law for a man to force his wife to have sex with him. It is called spousal rape, and has already been tested successfully in the courts.
This can be expressed in a number of ways, but essentially it is a systematic attempt to control another person's thinking and behavior. Psychological violence includes the following categories of behaviors, isolation, induced debility, pathological jealousy, threats, degradation, forced alcohol and drug use, brainwashing and occasional indulgences. Lets look more closely at what each category of psychological violence may look like.
What is the net result of all forms of violence? Violence is used to gain control over others and maintain dominence over them. In the short run, this may be what you want. In the long run, though, psychological violence, like physical and sexual violence, almost always destroys the relationship.
These three types of violence have several other characteristics in common.
There are other ways of dealing with your feelings without infringing upon the rights and wellbeing of other; this is what Learning to Live Without Violence is all about!
Your Violence History
What type of violence have you perpetrated? Admitting to violence is going to be difficult for you. You are likely to feel embarrassed, shameful and afraid of others response to you. Acknowledging your violence forces you to look at a part of yourself that you of which you are not particularly proud. However, doing so will also ultimately help you to change those behavior patterns that are likely to lead to violence.
Click here to view a violence history form. Print it out and use the list to identify your past acts of violence.
Describe three acts of violence that you perpetrated towards your partner.
In writing about each act of violence describe the circumstances leading up to your violence? What specifically did you do to your partner? What did you do afterwards. How do you think it affected your partner? How about your children? Be specific!