The Domestic Violence Trap:
How to Get Help and Find
Freedom from Abuse
There are certain phrases that workers in the domestic violence field hear all too often. From the perpetrator: "I couldn't stop myself." From the victim: "I shouldn't have ... then he/she wouldn't have...." The best answer for the abuser's claim that he or she had no control—over his or her drinking or anger or whatever the reason was for losing control—is this response: "Oh, really? If 60 Minutes had been filming in your home at that moment, do you think you would have been able to maintain control?" The abuser's response is usually quite different.
I am indebted to Gary Hankins for this clever response to the abuser's usual claim of not being able to prevent the assault. Of particular importance, however, is what Hankins says about victims in his book Prescription for Anger: Coping with Angry Feelings and Angry People. This sensitive area is not often discussed. The thing that shelter workers, therapists, social workers, and others must try to help overcome is the feeling of self-blame that many victims have. No one, man or woman, "deserves" to be hit or assaulted by a mate. There is no excuse for violence. This can never be said enough, but the victim may fall into the domestic violence trap by the role he or she has learned to play.
Hankins has concisely defined the victim's role in abusive relationships in his book. He speaks of women as the victims, but there is little difference in the role when it comes to male victims:
In most battering situations, the woman needs to assume at least partial responsibility for the abuse they receive. Without self‐