The impact of domestic violence on victims is tremendous. Repeated abuse confuses victims about the meaning of love. They are desperate for affection, but they become vulnerable to dangerous relationships. Frequently, they hope the abuser will change and want to believe that will happen so they will forgive him and provide additional opportunities to rectify the situation only to become re-victimized by the continuing pattern of violence.
Victims are often reluctant to report abuse to law enforcement authorities because they fear reprisal from the abuser who may threaten to harm her further or even kill her if she divulges the violence. They are intimidated and coerced by the abuser not to do so and, commonly, he will threaten to harm or take the children away, which is one of the biggest factors that will preclude victims from not reporting the abuse. They genuinely believe they will lose their children and are willing to endure anything in order for this not to occur.
Victims of domestic violence also feel embarrassed and ashamed to seek help and disclose what they have been going through. They commonly believe they are worthless individuals, and their self-esteem has been highly diminished or destroyed by the power and control that has been exercised in the relationship by the abuser.
When domestic violence comes to the attention of law enforcement personnel, it is vitally important they understand the underlying dynamics so they are able to respond with a better understanding and a greater degree of sensitivity about how to proceed with such incidents. Understandably, police officers can become frustrated with repeat calls for service for the same individuals, but they must not fail to recognize that their manner of interaction and their response strategies may have a profound impact on the victims who are severely traumatized by the impact of domestic violence. They must realize that they can, in fact, make a positive difference.