How To Empower YourSelf and Interrupt the Cycle of Violence

  1. Make a firm statement to your partner that you will no longer tolerate being abused by him. lf he wants a relationship with you, the abuse must stop. Only say this to him when you can really mean it. Also choose the time carefully. Make sure it is said convincingly when you are feeling safe and getting along well together.
  2. Take baby (small) steps towards change. Make little changes, rather like dipping your toe in the water to test the temperature before going any further.
  3. Give clear concise messages. PIan what to say, how to phrase it and when to say it. Keep the message as brief as possible. Remember, if you use too many words, your partner may experience your feedback as a verbal assault and your message will not get through to him. Also, he may retaliate against you.
  4. Choose a safe time to give feedback. Don't try to make your point if you are feeling angry and/or your partner's anger is rising.
  5. Delay your forgiveness. If your partner has hurt you, say so. Tell him that his abusive behaviour is unacceptable, and that it pushes you away from him.
  6. Expect more from him. Slowly work towards rebalancing the “give and take” in the relationship. When you are both feeling calm tell him what you want from him, e.g. "l would like you to bathe the baby while I cook the dinner."
  7. Educate him about behaviours that you find disrespectful. "When you whistle at every girl who passes in the street l feel that you don't care about me."
  8. Reclaim your personal power and use it wisely. Find ways to counteract his controlling behaviour. You may, for instance, tell him that you will no longer be a passenger in his car if he is angry or drunk.
  9. Become an observer of his controlling tactics. Learn to recognise the lengths to which he is prepared to go in order to control your life.
  10. Be assertive in your body language. When he attempts to intimidate you - stand up straight - look at him directly - try to convey inner strength.
  11. Use positive self-talk to minimise the effects of his put-downs. lf he calls you "stupid", tell yourself that you are smarter than he will ever know.
  12. Do not provoke him. When you feel angry, take time-out rather than place yourself in a vulnerable position. He may use his superior strength to hit back at you and may justify his behaviour on the basis of provocation.
  13. Give up the notion of "win/lose." Your relationship is not a competition. Aim for a relationship based upon mutual respect and equality.
  14. Question and examine your own beliefs about violence. For example, his unhappy childhood, unemployment or drinking may trigger his aggressive behaviour but this does not excuse it. He can control his violence.
  15. Recognise the effects of gender socialisation. Become aware of the things you say and do which place males, and especially your partner, in a position of dominance. For instance, you may place his needs consistently before your own, or seek his approval unnecessarily.
  16. Develop an empathic attitude towards yourself. Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Care for yourself because your partner is unlikely to do so. He will focus on what he wants rather than what is best for you or the relationship.
  17. Develop economic independence. Exercise more control over the disbursement of family income. Explore earning opportunities for yourself.
  18. Develop a support network. Renew and rejuvenate contact with your extended family and friends. Make new friends and maintain them. Choose someone in whom you can confide. Don't suffer in silence.
  19. Be prepared to leave in a hurry if he seems likely to explode and lash-out at you-or the children. Make advance plans for the safety of yourself and the children and be ready to implement them at a moment's notice. For example, have car keys, house keys, money and vital medication on hand.
  20. Be more responsible for yourself and less responsible for your partner. Experiment with the guidelines above to see hour you can influence change in the relationship.


Robin Wileman. April. 1995.