How to detect and deal with domestic violence as a caregiver?

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Domestic violence is the result of a dysfunctional bond in the couple. Violence between intimate partners is to be placed in conjugal and family life cycles but also in the individual history of the members of the couple.

It is very important to always keep in mind that violence in general and domestic violence exists and occurs regardless of the socio-cultural and professional level of individuals, couples and families.

In 2020, following the Grenelle on conjugal violence of 2019, the Ministry of Justice put in place a number of measures to strengthen the fight against violence against women by their spouses (reinforced criminal sanctions / removal measures and protection of the victim).

The 3919 telephone line is now accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is often the first collection of the words of women victims. The dedicated website is very comprehensive.

The government site ” Let’s stop the violence Is also very well informed and provides simple and clear information that can easily be given to patients.

The law also provides for new measures to protect children who are “co-victims”, witnessing violence against their mother and often against themselves, at home.

Finally, for foreign women who do not have a good command of the French language and / or risk losing their residence permit by breaking up with their companion and / or by reporting to the police, know that there are depending on the region lawyers and associations that deal specifically with these particular situations.

In summary, there are three main elements to remember in preventing domestic violence:

  • The need for support in three parts: justice service / health care system / associations
  • The need to know the spiral of domestic violence
  • The need for knowledge of risky situations, in particular pregnancy and separations

The cycle of violence

1638875125 727 How to detect and deal with domestic violence as a
Figure from the clic-violence website

Violence evolves in cycles:

  • Phase of rising tension in the couple (external event or internal state of stress or anger of the author).
  • Episodes of violence during the aggression phase (physical and / or verbal violence)
  • The perpetrator made the victim feel guilty during the phase of justifying this violence (projection mechanisms with headlights as follows: “If you hadn’t pissed me off, we wouldn’t be there”, “You did on purpose to make me angry ”,“ You looked for it ”etc.)
  • Reconciliation during the lull phase (inappropriately called “honeymoon”, during which the author promises, for example, that he will make an effort and that it will not happen again).

In the absence of intervention, the cycle repeats with an increase in the intensity of the violence and a decrease in the duration and intensity of the lull phases.

Be aware that the care of perpetrators of domestic violence as part of individual or group therapy (sometimes required by the courts as part of an obligation of care) are efficient.

Knowledge of the cyclical nature of violence within the couple is essential to understand one of the characteristics of the behavior of victims, namely their tendency to be reversible in the request for help and in their procedures. It also makes it possible to adapt the support proposals.

Indeed, women victims of violence within their couple, always think and hope for an improvement in their marital relationship and a change in their partner’s behavior (which can happen if real care and a sincere long process of change is initiated. ), who, as we have understood, is not, in many cases, only a violent man, since he can be gentle and understanding at other times. This is the complexity of this phenomenon and of the human relationship.

Main factors associated with acts of violence (non-exhaustive list)

Factors Associated with the Likelihood of a Woman Being Abused Factors associated with the likelihood that a man will violent watch Relational or cyclical factors
Young age
A low level of education
Exposure to domestic violence in childhood
Childhood abuse
Acceptance of violence
Pregnancy, the birth of a child; the perinatal period
Disabilities, long-term illnesses
Mental health problems
Financial dependence
Addictive driving (alcohol, drugs)
Young age
A low level of education
Childhood history of violence or exposure to violence
Drug and alcohol abuse
Personality disorders
The trivialization of violence (for example, considering it okay for a man to hit his partner)
Dissatisfaction in the couple
Context of conflictual separation
Male domination in the family
Economic stress, precariousness
Vulnerability linked to administrative, and / or social and / or economic dependence
Education gap, where a woman is more educated than her male partner
Significant age difference in the couple
Geographical uprooting leading to societal isolation

Questions adapted to the context

The Haute Autorité de Santé offers health professionals and the medico-social sector examples of questions to ask women to get them to talk about their violent experiences at home.

You can choose the formulation that suits you best, or in any case the one with which you feel most comfortable.

Note, as in matters of sexual disorder, that the patient will not approach these difficulties easily on her own, but will be relieved and inclined to confide if it is the professional who proactively questions her.

  • “How do you feel at home? “
  • “How does your spouse behave with you? “
  • “In the event of an argument, how does it work? “
  • “How are your intimate relationships going?” And in case of disagreement? “
  • “Are you afraid for your children? “
  • “Have you ever been a victim of violence (physical, verbal, mental, sexual) in your life? “
  • “Have you experienced events that have hurt you or that continue to hurt you? “” Have you ever been verbally, physically or sexually assaulted by your partner? “” Have you ever been afraid of your partner? “
  • “Have you ever felt humiliated or insulted by your partner?” “

You can also tell your patient that these issues are discussed with all patients given the frequency of the risk of domestic violence and the current policy focus increasingly on prevention.

Some reference tools

  • “The wheel of violence”: a tool that names concrete examples of all forms of violence between intimate partners.
  • “Responding to domestic violence”: a reference sheet which details the means available to victims.
How to detect and deal with domestic violence as a
Wheel of violence, created within the framework of the Grenelle des violence conjugales, 2019

These tools are a support for mediation and communication on the subject with your patient.

List of numbers at national level

In case of emergency Phone number
Police or gendarmerie 17
Firefighters 18
European emergency number 112
Emergency number for people who are deaf or hard of hearing 114
Emergency accommodation request number 115
National listening numbers Phone number
Violence Women Info National number intended for women victims of violence, their entourage and the professionals concerned 39 19
SOS Rape Women Information Number intended for women victims of rape or sexual assault, their entourage and the professionals concerned 0 800 05 95 95
Hello childhood in danger National number dedicated to the prevention and protection of children at risk or at risk of being so 119
International victim assistance number 116 006
Federation 3977 Against Mistreatment Alert number on the risks of mistreatment of the elderly and adults with disabilities 3977
Numbers of the associations responsible for assessing the danger so that the prosecutor can then assign the Serious Danger Telephones (TGD) The associations of the FNSF are often involved with the health networks as part of a global care. The list can be found on:
« stop », intended for victims and concerned professionals
Violence click which offerssupport for care domestic violence against women in general medicine
National association of social workers in police stations and gendarmeries which specifies the contact details of the intervention centers (“Locations and contacts of ISCGs” tab)
Sexual and gender-based violence reporting platform: allows you to chat live 7 days a week and 24 hours a day with a specially trained police officer or gendarme to report incidents of sexual and / or gender-based violence

Useful links

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How to detect and deal with domestic violence as a caregiver?

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