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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Dealing with Sister of Domestic Violence
I feel like my sister uses me when she gets abused from her husband. I even went to court with her to get a PFA for 6 months. She got granted it and her husband had to go to drug rehab and anger management. Well, she voided the PFA and now she is telling us that he is back at home. And that no rehab will take him. I think it is a excuse. And she wants to visit with me and I here him yelling in the background. Please help me? I don`t know what to do.
Thank you for your question. Two things are important here:
1) Domestic violence is cyclical - there is an outbreak of violence followed by an apology period ("I promise it will never happen again") followed by a honeymoon period (things are great; flowers, candy, etc.) followed by tension escalation and another outbreak. It's challenging to break this cycle from both the perpetrator and victim's standpoint. Women often need time to make a break from their abusive partner - some studies show that women make up to 6 attempts to leave before they are ready to make the final break. Remember that even though your sister is experiencing abuse, she likely cares for her partner and it's hard to make a break from someone you care for no matter how poorly they treat you. Try to have patience with your sister;
and 2) Keeping in mind what I said in #1, you must always protect your own needs in these stressful family situations. Try to find a support group where you can share your experiences and concerns, and try to talk with supportive friends and family members.
Amy E Bonomi, PhD, MPH
Former Associate Professor
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University