How to Resolve Relationship Conflicts Series

By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD – April 24, 2012.

A “unpleasant divorce” has been cited as the underlying root cause to explain what led to NFL All Star’s decision to file Domestic Violence charges against his spouse.

On Monday, April 23, 2012, Mrs. Pilar Sanders was arrested for assaulting her spouse in front of their children. The spouse, Deion Sanders, 2011 NFL Hall of Fame inductee, and current NFL Network Channel Analyst, is reported to have filed the report to press Domestic Violence charges.

As reported the couple is undergoing an unpleasant divorce and as the divorce progresses legally, the two are said to be living in the same home. This is a familiar arrangement many courts may approve to limit the families financial strain of having to maintain two separate households. If both adults are legally the owner of the property, and neither can agree to pay rent elsewhere, a judge will allow both property owners to reside in the home. I have even seen a judge order which bedroom each is allowed to reside in among other rules to limit conflicts.

This arrangement however can contribute to further hostility and resentments as a divorce progresses and the full impact of the situation becomes more of a reality. It is not easy to divide property, so we can just imagine how difficult it must be to live in the same home, in separate bedrooms, leading separate lives, as the dread of a pending divorce lingers at the ready over the home like a ominous heavy cloud ready to collapse.

If parents display patterns of aggression towards their spouse in the home, fail to communicate effectively, or are not equip to address conflicts maturely as they surface, escalating behaviors which can lead to abuse surface.

If physical abuse does surface within this living situation, most would agree, in any and all cases of Domestic Violence regardless of gender of the perpetrator, cases of Domestic Violence should be reported.

On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in the United States every day based on Domestic Violence Homicide rates in 2000.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, and 2006, intimate partner violence affects all regardless of gender, age, cultural identity, or income. Summary findings of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Intimate partner violence / Domestic violence regarding gender; females are more likely than males to experience nonfatal intimate partner violence. On average between 2001 and 2005:

Nonfatal intimate partner victimizations represented:
22% of nonfatal violent victimizations against females age 12 or older
4% of nonfatal violent victimizations against males age 12 or older

Children were residents of the households experiencing intimate partner violence in:
38% of the incidents involving female victims.
21% of the incidents involving male victims.

 Intimate partner and family violence, including physical, sexual, and financial abuse, neglect and maltreatment of children, and elder abuse, occurs throughout the country every day. Unlike most other crimes, intimate partner or domestic violence is usually not a sudden, isolated, and unexpected incident. It may involve years of emotional and psychological trauma as well as physical injuries which may become increasingly more severe and occur frequently over time. Exposure to such violence has a devastating impact on all involved, including children living with and experiencing it as witnesses and not direct victims. [US Bureau of Justice]

Treatment Options
Domestic Violence treatment available includes Court Ordered Group Therapy to focus on issues of abuse, the victim may elect to report to a shelter for safety or seek alternate housing arrangements, participate in Crisis Marital / Couples Therapy, and Legal Incarceration for acts of Physical Violence.

Question: Of all the treatment and intervention options available listed here, which intervention would you say has the lowest recidivism rate?

Answer: Incarceration for the perpetrator.

Because the rate of Domestic Violence reoccurrences are so high, incarceration has been proven in the research to reduce the likelihood for repeat offenses in the future.

Couples Therapy and Group Therapy are effective and have the same success rates compared to all other forms of Psychological Therapy. The percentage of patients who participate in Psychological Therapy who benefit from treatment is estimated to be 75% when compared to other patients who do not participate in treatment.

Intimate couples who experience occasional conflict this is an inevitable part of life, and expected. In fact, some conflict is expected and it is considered suspect if couples report to never experiencing some conflict. Some conflict, within reason, is natural and healthy. In the book Psychological Precipice a case is repeatedly made in favor of this point of view.

Participating in Couples Therapy can provide Problem Solving Strategies, and Conflict Resolution Skills to help couples learn to argue constructively.

If you suspect that you, or someone you know, may be in a volatile situation, seek help and resources early.

Until Next time: à Donf

Tags:  Relationships, Conflict, Interpersonal Relationship, Intimate Relationships, Relationship Dilemmas, Marriage, Divorce, Sex and Relationships