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Hitting the Pause Button During Moments of Stress
Domestic violence remains a major problem in the Orlando area. A domestic violence charge can
have serious consequences for both the accuser and accused. Once the law is involved, an accused
abuser may be immediately cut off from their family and home. And if convicted of domestic
violence, the abuser faces the loss of civil rights and, depending on their immigration status, even
The Underlying Causes of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence incidents are often triggered by stressful situations, such as financial hardship.
Indeed, a 2009 study published by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence found not
only that “economic stress and hardship may increase the risk of domestic violence,” but that such
violence can also cause “financial problems for domestic violence survivors and entrap them in
poverty and an abusive relationship.”
But as Dr. Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist who specializes in domestic violence, noted in a
2012 article, economic factors alone do not explain–and certainly cannot justify–domestic violence.
Dr. Firestone said many couples involved in domestic violence become trapped in a “fantasy bond,”
a type of co-dependent relationship where there “is a feeling of merged identity between the couple.”
In other words, both the abuser and the abused are unable to end their destructive relationship
because each views the other “as extensions of themselves and not as separate individuals.”
Confronting Self-Destructive Behaviors
The best way to deal with domestic violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Dr.
Firestone noted it is essential for abusers (or potential abusers) to identify “moments when they are
triggered” and to understand that “no matter how provoked or infuriated they might feel toward their
partner, these emotions will not kill them.” The key is to confront “destructive thoughts” and not use
them as an excuse to engage in “aggressive behaviors.”
Essentially, if you are stressed you have a choice: Take responsibility for controlling your feelings or
act out against your partner.
There are a number of programs and methods designed to help defuse stressful situations before
they erupt into domestic violence incidents. Dr. Firestone pointed to the work done by the
California-based group Men Against Violence (Manalive). One technique suggested by Manalive
involves a simple breathing exercise:
Whenever your partner does something or says something that triggers your anger, put one hand on
your heart and the other on your stomach. Breathe out for eight seconds like you're blowing out
candles on a birthday cake. Then breathe in for four seconds like you're smelling a rose. Repeat this
While this may not sound like much, Dr. Firestone and other domestic violence experts say actions
like this amount to hitting a “pause button.” A person who takes the time to stop and consider the
consequences of acting aggressively is more like to “make more reasonable decisions,” according to
Dr. Firestone. The idea is not simply to prevent momentary outbursts of domestic violence, but to
develop a person's self-esteem and sense of self-identity, thus breaking their destructive
co-dependent bond with their partner.
Do Not Deal With Domestic Violence Alone
On the other side, it is equally important for a partner or child who is or may become a victim of
domestic violence not to escalate the situation. This does not mean the partner or child should
submit to abuse of any kind or fail to stand up for themselves. But do not respond to threats or
abusive language in-kind.
The same advice discussed above applies to both parties in an argument. Before you say something
you might regret later, hit the “pause button” and look for a way to keep your emotions in check.
Most of us do not make the best decisions in the heat of the moment, especially when we are under
attack. If there is a way to manage a stressful situation without resorting to arguing or increasing
verbal abuse, both sides will be the better for it.
The other thing to keep in mind is you should not try to manage a potentially violent domestic
relationship on your own. It is important to seek help, either from a licensed psychiatric professional
or from organizations that specialize in aiding victims of domestic and family violence. And if the
situation has reached the point where law enforcement must get involved, then you need to speak
with a qualified Orlando domestic battery attorney who can help you in dealing with the legal system,
either as the accuser or the accused. Contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, if you require