Understanding why your partner is violent

There is no justification for abuse. Abusive partners have often experienced trauma that they have left untreated. But this trauma never justifies the abuse they inflict on others. Unfortunately, they are rarely capable of change, even though they promise they will.

Verified by Assoc. Prof. Andreea Gruev-Vintila on 17/11/2023

Know the facts

Recent studies show that the majority of abusive partners are motivated by a desire for control, sometimes a deep fear of abandonment, insecurity, anger over feeling humiliated, and resentment. But their desires and fears never justify the violence they inflict on others.

  • Abusive partners believe that their own feelings and needs should be prioritised in the relationship.

    They act in their own self interest to the detriment of their partner to obtain:

    • assurance that they are never left or abandoned
    • control and domination over their partner
    • the ability to do what they want, without any consideration for their partner and what they want, and possibly without consideration their children
    • assurance that their partner meets their demands and fulfills their needs
    • silence and compliance from their partner
    • the ability to vent their frustration without restraint when they are angry, stressed or tired.
  • Still not well known in France, the concept of coercive control is internationally recognised as the best way to understand domestic abuse.

    Coercive control is defined as an intentional act or pattern of controlling, constraining or threatening behaviour used by an individual against their partner or ex-partner with the aim of making them dependent, subordinate and/or depriving them of their freedom of action.

    Perpetrators may intimidate, humiliate, monitor, manipulate or even isolate their partner to exercise power and control. Their abuse can take many different forms.

What to remember

There is no justification for abuse. You are not responsible for the abuse you experience. 

Many people who have experienced abuse directly or indirectly choose not to repeat the experience and get treatment. Abusive partners choose the way they behave. 

Unfortunately, they are rarely capable of change, even though they promise they will.

Expert professionals and services can support you on your way to safety and independence.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
    • Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
    • For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website www.solidaritefemmes.org.
  • The “Centres d'Information sur les Droits des Femmes et des Familles (CIDFF) ” helps the general public, especially women, in many areas such as: legal rights, health, employment searches, training, business creation, and even childcare.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you of your rights and the steps to take. Some centres can  assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the “CIDFF” in your area in this directory.
  • Associations” are organisations that offer a range of services.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • The services offered vary considerably from one “association” to another. They can give you advice and sometimes they can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • You will find a list of “associations” specialising in helping victims of violence near you in this directory by selecting your French department.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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