In an episode of domestic violence, the aggressor aims to gain power over the other person. What’s at stake is the desire to control the other, not the subject of the dispute.
In a domestic violence situation, the victim does not feel free to express their thoughts. She doesn’t feel free to react, fearing the consequences. She will tend to stay silent to ease tension and avoid the worst.
In a scene of domestic violence, the aggressions are intentional, strategic, and used to exert power over the other. Aggression can take various forms: verbal, economic, psychological, sexual, physical, religious, and social. Power over the other can manifest in different ways: isolating, monitoring movements, belittling family members, even forbidding them to see others, exhibiting disproportionate jealousy, and so on.
The aggressor doesn’t want to be “unmasked” to avoid facing punishment or losing power. He doesn’t explain, he justifies. He then uses various strategies: he denies, trivializes the act, says he was provoked, claims self-defense, invokes extenuating circumstances (alcohol, stress, difficult childhood), blames the other person for his own actions.
In a couple’s dispute, it’s usually both members of the couple who present arguments and want their point of view to prevail. What’s at stake is the subject of the disagreement.
In a couple’s dispute, both individuals are on an equal footing, and neither fears the other. Each feels free to express their thoughts and reactions. Both aim to come out as winners from the disagreement but not at the cost of destroying the other.
In a couple’s dispute, there is a lot of argumentation primarily concerning the reason for the disagreement It can be fueled by anger. There might be aggression that releases inner tension created by the anger or frustration. This aggressiveness can manifest itself:
Verbally: arguing, shouting, speaking loudly, expressing anger, being rude to others, sulking. Physically: make an impulsive gesture such as slamming a door or punching a table.
The person initiating the dispute has nothing to hide and no power to preserve. They argue and explain their actions based on the disagreement with a relative level of transparency. They can more easily let go and even apologize if they acknowledge they have crossed the boundaries.