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Why is domestic violence still happening?

At the core of domestic and family violence is ENTITLEMENT this leads the perpetrator to exerting power and control over their victim whom they believe they OWN. They also enlist allies, friends and family to help reinforce that power and control. The allies are enlisted through a web of lies and deceit by the perpetrator.

For domestic violence to STOP; the change that needs to occur in all spheres of our society is the change of the entitled attitudes of abusers and their supporters. This change needs to occur at home, in families, and schools, religious groups, universities, workplaces and any corporate organisation. Each of these spheres in our society need to address their own issues of abuse, bullying and harassment to bring about change. Overall, perpetrators must be held to account for their actions.

In our first book ‘Broken to Brilliant breaking free to be you after domestic violence’ you can read about the palpable frustration experienced by one of the Founding Directors, who felt that not enough was being done to counter ‘the insistent belief held by some men, their families and others in society that it is justifiable and acceptable to abuse women because they deserve it’ . See the extract below:

‘It took me years to finally leave. While setting up my and my children’s new life, I kept hearing an inner voice that wanted me to create a WAAVE, a wave of women Working Against Abuse, Violence and Entitlement. I envisioned a powerful wave of thousands of women fighting against the upsurge of the insistent belief held by some men, their families and others in society that it is justifiable and acceptable to abuse women because they deserve it. For me, there was not enough being done to counter the sense of entitlement of the perpetrator and their families. They were not being held to account. A few years later, my anger was subsiding, and my focus shifted to wanting to highlight how women and children successfully rebuilt their lives after domestic violence. This book is a result of taking action and believing there is a reason for living through the abuse’ pp 1-2

It's not only Broken to Brilliant survivors that feel entitlement is at the CORE and DRIVES the abuse. Lundy Bancroft has worked with over a thousand abusers directly as an intervention counsellor and has served as clinical supervisor on another thousand cases. He is now a speaker and author. In his book titled ‘Why does he do that?’ Lundy explains that ‘Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, and the branches are control’.

Below are some excerpts from Lundy’s book that explain entitlement, these are interesting to read as they are from his learnings of working with perpetrators and they give insight into a perpetrators mind, beliefs and actions:

  • “Entitlement is the abuser’s belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner. The attitudes that drive abuse can largely be summarized by this one word”.

  • “If she doesn’t fulfill her myriad household responsibilities to his satisfaction, he feels entitled to dole out harsh criticism”.

  • “An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing”.

  • “The abusive man’s high entitlement leads him to have unfair and unreasonable expectations, so that the relationship revolves around his demands. His attitude is: “You owe me.” For each ounce he gives, he wants a pound in return”

  • “Entitlement make the abuser feel that it is acceptable for him to have affairs, but not her”

  • “The abuser feels entitled to end a relationship any time he feels like it, but he assigns no such privilege to his partner”.

  • “The selfishness and self-centeredness that his entitlement produces cause role reversal in his relationships with his children, in that he considers it their responsibility to meet his needs”.

‘An abuser who does not relinquish his core entitlements will remain abusive’

Broken to Brilliant’s work focuses on the long-term recovery after abuse as we had experienced limited support and services to help us move on in our lives. We fully acknowledge there continues to be the belief that people are ‘entitled to treat others disrespectfully’. Though this is so well hidden as the perpetrator appears to be charming, in control, loving and caring and just wonderful.

As we can all be duped by their ‘charisma and charm’, in our third book Shattered to Shining, Journeys if surviving and thriving after domestic violence stories of strength and success pages 5-7 we describe the RED FLAGS of abusive behaviour to look out for. See the extract below.

Often, we struggle to recognise the signs of domestic violence, which is why the signs of abuse have been given the name ‘red flags’. We need to take notice of the red flag behaviours and not be dismissive – these are warning you of a controlling, abusive person. These behaviours can be grouped into key themes:


  • they seem very thoughtful, considerate, caring, and understanding; you, your family and friends think they are wonderful.

  • continuous criticism and humiliation in front of other people

  • emotional blackmail – for example, ‘If you loved me, you would …’

  • ignoring or refusing to talk

  • losing their temper frequently over little things

  • speeding the relationship up – quickly moving in together or opening joint bank accounts

  • making you feel as if you are walking on eggshells to keep the peace

  • playing mind games or making you feel guilty

  • refusing to take responsibility for their actions – minimising and blaming you, drugs or alcohol for their behaviour.

  • monitoring what you are doing – going through your text messages, emails and social media

  • using technology to track where you are

  • telling you to check in with them regularly

  • telling you what to wear, where you can go, and who you can spend time with

  • controlling how much money you have or preventing you from getting a job

  • threatening you with weapons and/or to hurt or kill you, the children, family or the pets

  • threatening to publish private information

  • refusing to use birth control or protection

  • jealousy – accusing you of having affairs.

  • discouraging or preventing you from seeing family, friends, or work colleagues outside of work; isolating you from other people

  • preventing you from practising religion

  • encouraging you to spend more and more time with them

  • moving you long distances away.

If you recognise these signs and behaviours, you need to get help from trained professionals who can work with you to keep you safe while you exit the relationship.

1800 Respect CALL 1800 737 732

Lifeline 131 114

Emergency Dial 000

Stopping domestic violence does not stop and start with just one group it is all of our responsibility to step up and make the change and to lead more respectful, kind and considerate lives. Perpetrators need to be held to account.

What changes are you going to make?

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