Commentary

October 11, 2013

Healthy couples relationship – good communication is key to reducing conflict

Being in a healthy relationship has been shown to have a positive effect on a person’s physical and physiological wellbeing. The overall health of a relationship is directly related to how well couples are able to resolve conflict in a positive manner and avoid destructive patterns in communication. Good communication is a key for a healthy relationship. According to the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Inc. (PREP) Program some typical destructive patterns couples may engage can include; put downs or name calling, which leads to escalation in the conflict, avoidance and withdrawal which can lead to stuffing one’s feelings and not addressing important issues, and invalidation which leaves a person feeling disillusioned and unappreciated in the relationship.

Negative conflict resolution patterns can lead to a relationship no longer feeling safe and ultimately will impact intimacy in the relationship. When a relationship is no longer perceived as safe to the individuals it becomes harder to discuss issues of concern in any depth. Additionally the lack of safety in a relationship can also increase to risk of verbal abuse and physical violence over time if these destructive patterns are not effectively addressed. Domestic violence can include verbal or physical abuse.

To understand more on what domestic violence is and how it affects those in caught this destructive pattern, here is some basic information on the subject. The following article is referenced from Military OneSource and authored by Drew Edwards, EdD, MS ©2006 Achieve Solutions

Domestic Violence Affects People of All Backgrounds

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence; any age, race, gender, level of education, or socioeconomic background. Domestic violence victims include same-sex partners as well as men who are abused by women.

However, the most common scenario involves men abusing their female partners. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that as many as 4 million women suffer abuse from their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or intimate partners each year. In fact, domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury to women over the age of 15 in the U.S.

Defining domestic violence

Domestic violence is willful intimidation, physical or sexual assault, or psychological and emotional abuse directed toward a current or former spouse or dating partner. Common terms used to describe domestic violence include domestic abuse, spousal abuse, courtship violence, battering, marital rape and date rape. Domestic violence can vary in frequency and severity: it can range from one hit or violent incident to repeated and severe battering.

The frequency of domestic violence is difficult to determine. This is because of disparities in the definition of domestic violence, how often victims report (male victims seldom report), and how researchers classify and collect data. For example, some consider stalking and psychological abuse as domestic violence while others consider only physical and sexual violence as domestic violence. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) culls through and publishes the best and most recent findings. The CDC reports:

  • Approximately 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Approximately 1.5 million women and 834,700 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year.
  • Nearly two-thirds of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or date.
  • Each year, more than 500,000 women injured as a result of domestic violence require medical treatment.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience domestic violence during pregnancy.

The face of a victim

Although domestic violence is found in nearly every demographic group, 85 percent of its victims are women. Abused women often are depressed and emotionally exhausted from the relationship. The abuser often isolates the victim from her family, friends and finances. She is unable to talk about the abuse or lacks the means to leave the relationship.

It is not uncommon for the perpetrator to threaten to kill the woman, himself or her children if she attempts to leave. For this reason, many abused women believe that it is more dangerous to leave their abuser than to stay. Sadly, the data confirms this fear. A woman is at greater risk of being stalked and murdered after she leaves an abusive relationship. About 33 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners. This is why it is so important for a victim to have a solid support system and a safety plan in place before they try to leave an abusive relationship.

Domestic violence also devastates the lives of children. Children who are exposed to domestic violence often suffer long-term effects. These include emotional and behavioral problems, poor school performance, social withdrawal and physical illness. Boys often show more aggression and anger. Girls are more likely to become depressed and attempt suicide. These children also are more likely to be in abusive relationships as adults, either as abusers or victims.

The sooner children who are exposed to domestic violence get appropriate support through counseling, and education, the better the chances that they will be able to experience healthy and nonviolent relationships as adults.

If you worry about violence in any of your relationships, get help immediately. We are all worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. Experts can help provide support, appropriate resources and assistance in reviewing your options in planning a safe way to leave the abusive relationship.




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