VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN INTIMATE PARTNER RELATIONSHIPS AND INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE TO WOMEN’S NEEDS
Keywords:breaking out of the circle of violence, coercive control, institutional support, intimate partner violence, victim needs
Although there are tendencies to portray women in partner relationships as physically equally aggressive as men, initiating violence, revenge, and using deadly force almost as much as men, men’s violence against women is more pernicious, characterized by more severe and frequent acts of greater range, manifestations, and with more severe consequences. It is therefore unjustified to speak of gender symmetry, and present this type of violence in gender-neutral terms. This paper provides an overview of the most important features of the observed phenomenon, focusing on psychological violence, which plays a key role in “breaking the resistance”, and in providing a “voluntary sacrifice”, i.e., coercive control, structural in nature and extending to all aspects of a woman’s life. Paradoxically, leaving a violent partner is a risk factor for violence and is considered to be potentially more dangerous than staying in a relationship. In the literature, help seeking and coping strategies used by women who have experienced violence are conceptualized in various ways, and research confirms that they depend on the features of violence and the resources available. It is shown that the crucial precondition for women who want to break out of the circle of violence and begin a new life is a fact that professionals understand the gender nature of violence, that effective social control of violent behaviour is established, that women are lent support through specialized independent programs over a longer period, which should be multidimensional and well synchronized, so as to include women, and take into account their needs, reinforcing their sense of security and space for action.