Oct 17, 2014

The End of Domestic Violence


Ray and Janay Rice have become the ‘face’ for Domestic Violence. The behavior Ray Rice exhibited toward Janay has been seen over-and-over again by millions of people. And, it has brought nationwide attention to Domestic Violence. But, Domestic Violence has been around for much longer than the Rice’s and is prevalent in a much wider scope than the NFL or sports, in general. According the the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, here is the effect Domestic Violence has every year:

• On average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
• On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
• In domestic violence homicides, women are six times more likely to be killed when there is a gun in the house.
• Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
• Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.

In addition to the emotional costs associated with Domestic Violence are the economic costs. According to the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Domestic Violence costs the U.S. $8.3 billion per year.

What’s the answer to minimizing the pain, suffering, and overall costs of Domestic Violence? Many believe that counseling and therapy are the right answers. USA Today interviewed a number of counseling organizations and here are their comments:

• The goal of these programs is not to keep a couple together. Rather, it’s to make batterers understand the dynamics of power and control and to change their behavior.

• “That individual has to want to change and do the work, and it’s not easy,” said Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “You’re trying to undo historical trauma that this person has probably witnessed, and thoughts and beliefs they have rooted over their lifetime.”

• David Boehm is a social worker who runs an intervention program in Virginia through Blue Ridge Counseling Services. In Boehm’s program, participants learn non-violent tactics to deal with conflict, such as sitting down and talking, or just walking away from a tense situation.

• At Emerge, an abuser education program based in Massachusetts, participants write out a “relationship map” of their three most significant relationships, answering about 20 questions.

As you review these comments, ask yourself, if I were a victim of Domestic Violence, would any of those solutions appear to really make a difference in my aggressor? Just because a person understands the dynamics of power and control, does that mean that they will change their behavior? If a person has a lifetime of deep-rooted beliefs and trauma, what kind of “work” will change that? Will someone that behaves in a violent way really start to deal with conflict by sitting down and talking or walking away just because they go through counseling? Lastly, will a person change just because they see the pattern they have developed through a “relationship map”?

Having worked with hundreds of couples and thousands of individuals as a minister and Life Coach over the last 30 years, I would be hard-pressed to believe I would get anyone to change such strong behavior through any of those methods alone. Does education on how the behavior hurts others and them help? Of course. Does a desire to change come into play, Absolutely! But, all of those methods fall short of the most important element that will have an immediate and positive impact on the victim and the aggressor. The key is in what Katie Ray-Jones said above “To undo historical trauma that this person has probably witnessed, and thoughts and beliefs they have rooted over their lifetime.” Those that commit acts of Domestic Violence have stored-up beliefs and triggers that must be changed in order to stop the behavior. The human mind builds associations to everything we do. It’s always looking for meaning. In people who are violent, their minds have learned an association that “when (this) happens, I become angry and I strike out at someone”. It’s an “If-Then” statement, much like what computers use. Yes, it is a learned behavior and it becomes an unconscious behavior, just like the statement, “When I want to get somewhere, I get up and walk”. How often do you think about the process of getting up and walking? You don’t. It’s an automatic behavior.

In my work with people, I change automatic behaviors all the time. People who used to automatically go to the refrigerator when they felt a hunger pain now go for a drink of water. People who used to grab a cigarette when they felt anxious now find that taking a deep breath gives them the same relaxation as smoking used to. People that used to lash out at their significant other when a certain word or behavior was exhibited now find that the word or behavior no longer has any meaning, no affect. My main tools for helping people are Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnosis. Unlike the concept that many people have about hypnosis, all people are in and out of different “states” of trance each and every day. Happiness is a “state” of being. Anger is a “state” of being. Being “in the zone” is a trance-like state. And, too many other “states” we all are in daily to mention here. Hypnosis is a facilitated process that helps people make enormous changes very quickly, very effectively. Hypnosis and NLP could have a major impact with athletes, and others, everywhere.

Now, if I could just get someone from the NFL on the phone…