Recognizing the horror of Intimate Terrorism and how it is different from Situational Couple Violence

Abuse in any form is bad news: verbal abuseemotional abusephysical abusefinancial abusespiritual abusesexual abuse. All bad!

And, you need to know what intimate terrorism is because it has the most dire consequences.


  • Recognizing abuse
  • Recognizing Intimate Terrorism
  • How Intimate Terrorism differs from Situational Couple Violence
  • Why you need to recognize intimate terrorism right this minute and take action


Machine Transcription (apologies for typos!)

Today on Save Your Sanity, we're going to talk about something you may never have heard about before and that is the topic of intimate terrorism and how it's different from situational couple violence and that's very interesting. But how I got there is even more interesting because I was working on something I want to bring to you about the connection between domestic violence and mass shootings. And I thought first of all, we should lay the groundwork about these differences between intimate terrorism, something you may never have heard about before, and situational couple violence, big stuff. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Save Your Sanity, help for handling Hijackals, those difficult, toxic and often disturbing people in your life. I'm Dr Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor and I'm here for you. You'll get the insights, skills, strategies and support to stop tolerating verbal and emotional abuse, whether it's happening now or happened to you in the past, maybe by a parent partner, x relative or even a coworker. Time to take life back, to recover and to rediscover you, your values, dreams, desires, and realize them. Any healthy ways in healthy relationships. I'm so glad you're here.

I want to talk to you about something that is really serious and usually I'm talking to you about things that are really happening to you, could be happening to you or someone that you know or love, maybe happened to you in your childhood or the family that you grew up in and today is no different except that I'm going to give you some serious terms, some serious ways of looking at the differences in what's going on in a relationship so that you can figure out what was it that really has happened to you or is happening to you in a different context. I think we're all familiar with the idea of intimate partner violence and yes, that's domestic violence, but it's when a current or a former spouse or partner in an intimate relationship wants to do something to the other spouse or partner and intimate partner violence.

It may be physical,. Verbal, emotional, economic, and/or, sexual abuse. In fact, the World Health Organization defines intimate partner violence as: "any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in the relationship, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse, and controlling behaviors." So all of those things are in there. And, I went on Facebook the other day and I expressed my outrage at the fact that, in this particular administration in the United States, the Department of Justice has changed the definition now of domestic violence. And in the last administration, there had been significant progress in the Department of Justice definition of domestic violence, which included emotional abuse and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, all the different pieces of abuse that I just mentioned in intimate partner violence. Now with this administration, it has been downgraded to crimes of violence, which means physical harm only. So that's a topic for another day because that happened quite silently in April of 2019.

Didn't come to the news until July of 20, 19. So our outrage is just beginning around that. But save that for another day. Today, talking about intimate partner violence, I want to talk about two different kinds because if you have something going on in your life, of course you need to recognize it. And the earlier you recognize it, the better. But after you have recognized it and after you are working with what are you going to do about it? And after that, when you're talking to an attorney or whatever you need some other things, you need some other definitions, you need some other ways of looking at what's actually going on. And so the most extreme form of intimate partner violence is often intimate terrorism, which another word for it is coercive, controlling violence or as they often say it coercive control. And that's where one person is violent and controlling.

And this is generally perpetrated by men against women. And unfortunately it's the most likely of all the types of intimate partner violence that is going to require medical attention and to have the woman go to a shelter. And when you resist intimate terrorism, um, then a form of self defense, it can be termed violent resistance. And that's usually conducted by women. And so studies on domestic violence against men suggest that men are less likely to report domestic violence perpetrated by their female intimate partners, mainly because it would expose the fact that they were the ones who were aggressive first. But the most common and less injurious usually form of intimate partner violence is what's called situational couple violence. And that's when either party, either gender, homosexual partners, um, heterosexual partners doesn't matter. Uh, when situational couple violence is when both of the genders, you just have a moment when you're so angry, you're so angry. It may be mutual, it may be just one of you and it's often likely to occur more particularly in younger, younger people. So I wanted to talk about these things today on Save Your Sanity because they are important distinctions.

And this may be something that you hadn't thought about and me is not just happening to you. It's happening all over the world. It's happening to people all over the world and what your a Hijackal partner wants to do. And you know, Hijackal is my term, my trademarked term, so that we can talk about the patterns, traits and cycles of these um, relentlessly difficult toxic people in our life and high jackals. They'll use any form of control that they can in order to make themselves feel as though they are at the top of the pile. They are the smartest person in the room. They are the person with the most control and so they, they are perpetrators of all kinds of violence. And violence, as I said earlier, is not limited to hurting you physically or sexually. Violence is violence and coercive. Controlling violence is something that we really need to talk about.

And intimate terrorism is that coercive, controlling violence. And if you've had that, just as I say those words, coercive, controlling violence, it will get you right in the stomach, in the heart. It will bring a lump to your throat. It will bring up fear and anxiety. And did that happen to you? Did that happen for you right now? Because that's an identifier for you. If that popped up immediately, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. And it happens. Typically it's a man who does it and it occurs when one partner in the relationship uses coercive control and power over the other partner. That could be threats or intimidation or isolation because it relies on severe psychological abuse for the control and when physical abuse occurs is way too severe, it's gone way too far, they will try to choke you, they will try and blight you out, they will come at you in ways that are so extreme, but it is this insidious, too frequent or maybe even constant psychological abuse that builds up and it may be sexual, it may be sadistic control, maybe economic or physical or emotional or psychological.

And it's most likely this intimate terrorism is most likely to escalate over time and it's not going to be mutual. It is not going to be both partners is going to be one partner perpetrating it over the other. And intimate terrorism is the one that is most likely to result in the most severe injury if physicality comes into play. And that's really alarming, isn't it? You know, some of my clients and I have clients in many parts of the world, they have been choked to the point of, of blacking out, almost dying. They have been left with horrible, horrible injuries and it's all been because the other person went into a terrible rage about something made up or something menial or something that happened to them somewhere else and they took it out on their partner. And it is just terribly, terribly dangerous. And it is my responsibility to bring that up here because of it's happening to you.

I want to come from that place of having you notice that today and say this is unsafe. And the abusers, the people who perpetrate intimate terrorism or more likely to have witnessed abuse when they were children than other abusers. So these are people who are, you know, they, they have problems. They have, uh, things that, that can be diagnosed usually, but they will never be diagnosed because the hijack call cannot imagine needing help because they're doing everything right. And if they do agree to go for help and they will appear as though, yes, yes, let's get help. My experience is that when they come into work, their primary aim is to get me to agree with them and join with them against their partner and for me that is a huge red flag when I see that happening between couples and as I said, I work with couples in many parts of the world because I work through video conferencing and if you're hearing me talk about this and you want to talk to me, go to be our client.com be a client, talk comm and sign up for that initial one hour for $97 interaction and consultation so we can talk about it because don't go on another moment.

If it's only that you need clarity from me that you tell me what's happening and I say to you, this is what it seems to be that helps you say, I don't want it to be that, but if we talk about it and it is, I will in fact look at it because you get so worn down and torn down and put down and worn out. When you're with a high jackal of this nature, someone who is particularly someone who is engaging in intimate terrorism, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you've stopped feeling, sometimes you just feel like it's hopeless. You can't do anything about it. You just have to lay down and play dead and it's very, very difficult. So I'm trying to give you some really good insights into this because intimate terrorism is the use of physical abuse often plus a broad range of tactics that are designed to get and keep control over the other person in the relationship.

And these intimate terrors are abusers and as I said earlier, they're usually men and the victims are usually female, although it happens in same sex relationships. And intimate terrorism uses many forms of abuse to gain power. And uh, if you want to learn more about this, you can go to project safe.org. That's project-safe.org. Read about it there. Some of the things that I have looked up today, I have come from there. And intimate terrorists have several forms of abuse to gain control, as I said earlier. So they will use that coercive control or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse. And um, if this is sounding, um, like something that's familiar to you, today's the day to wake up and smell the herbal tea to understand that because intimate terrorism is different than situational couple violence. You know, situational couple violence is sometimes called common couple violence.

It's when physical force comes, but it's not about control. It's, it's when poor communication skills exist. Poor conflict management skills. People get frustrated, they don't what to do. They can't talk about it, they don't have answers, they don't understand it. Maybe they don't know how to fight without resorting to verbal aggression and put downs and name calling. So they just get so frustrated and anger that their fist start flying or their hands start flying. Men they're hitting and shoving and carrying on and both men and women engage in situational couple violence, um, just just because of their frustration and their lack of skill and the escalated emotions that are there. But it's not about coercive control. It may seem like that in the moment because they really, really want you to understand them or get their point of view or do what they want you to do.

But it is not what is going on in the relationship almost daily. It is a rare occurrence and situational couple violence is much more common than intimate terrorism. Um, it's, it's certainly harmful. But as I said earlier, intimate terrorism is the type of domestic violence that accounts for the most of the serious injuries that occur. And it's not linked to general control, but usually comes in the form of a single argument where there is one or more of a couple lashing out physically and it happens. Um, there was this study done by Michael P. Johnson and he said that among college students for instance, that he found it, that situational couple violence, he found it to be perpetrated about 44% of the time by women and 56% of the time by men. And that it involves a relationship, diarrhea, Diam, NAMIC in which conflict usually gets out of hand and leads to minor forms of violence and rarely escalates into serious or life threatening forms of violence.

So it involves things like mild aggressive behavior, maybe throwing objects. And you know, this may not sound mild to you, it doesn't sound all that mild to me, but I guess as composed as opposed to choking you to death or stabbing you or doing something other than horrible, it is mild maybe throwing things or pushing or slapping or biting or hitting or scratching or kneel, pulling or whatever, hair pulling. Rather I'm scratching with your nails and we just need to know that that is more common. And it is not about coercive control. And this is, these are important distinctions to know. Now, you know I have lots and lots of videos for you to watch at Youtube. And my youtube channel is called for for relationship help, e l so youtube.com/for relationship help. Lots of things. They're on very specific topics. Every Monday evening I have my live streaming on youtube, 6:00 PM Pacific time, different topic every Monday evening where you can join in the chat.

You can share your stories, ask your questions, and do go to youtube and subscribe to that right away. Hit the little bell beside the subscribe button and that'll give you a notification when, when, um, I have put on new video operator, I am in the live stream. It's important to be informed, super important, and sometimes as not easy. If you have a partner who is definitely controlling, you may have to find a different computer to look these things up so that you may be even you. You need, you need to do that so it's not in your browser history. Go to a friend's house, watch this kind of thing. Um, be sure that you avail yourself of this because if you're afraid of your partner at any level, afraid of your partner at any level, that is not good. You should not be afraid of someone that you are supposedly in a love relationship with.

It is just not the way it's supposed to be. So many times you've heard me say if you've been a listener for a while, that a healthy relationship of any kind has three hallmarks. Those are equality, reciprocity, and mutuality. And if they're not there, the relationship will not be healthy. And if there's any form of control which results in you feeling fearful, you are not in a healthy relationship and this is absolutely key for you to understand and to really allow yourself to hear. No, none of us want to think of ourselves as being abused. No one wants to think of themselves as being in an abusive relationship, but you matter. You're precious. You've got to wake up and smell the herbal tea. You just have to have this is going on for you. Or if you see it going on with someone you care about, you have to help.

And how you help is not by reporting it. It is by getting that person off by themselves and saying, I'm seeing a few things. Can I help you in some way? I feel that that something is being done that hurts you and I'd like to help you and I want you to know that I'm here for you. And if it's happening to you, reach out. I'm always here. Come to my website, transforming relationship.com transforming relationship.com and find me. Let's talk. Go to be a client.com and sign up. So important. Take a step on your own behalf. Take a step towards feeling safe, knowing that you're doing something. Nobody needs to know when you take those steps except you, but you matter and you need to know. So I hope that i've helped you understand that there is such a thing as intimate terrorism and if you're experiencing it, get help. Let's talk and situational. Couple violence. You need to know about that too because neither one of them are. Okay. So I hope you'll come back and listen to other episodes in the podcast, saved your sanity, listen to my other podcast, emotional savvy, and until then, I wish you well take good care of yourself because you matter.

[inaudible] I'm so glad you spent this time with me today. I hope you heard something that touched your heart and empowered you to move forward. You can have the life and relationships that you most want and that begins with you within you. Today. I'm always here for you. Life can get better, and you've heard that from me. The relationship help doctor. I'm a British shader and I work with clients throughout the world through video conferencing. We can talk. So learn more@fourrelationshiphealth.com for relationship, h e l p.com or visit me on youtube at four relationship health. Join me for next week's show.



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