V is for Victim. Who Suffers and How?
There's no uniform for victims, however the most common victims of youth violence are:
- Children and youth.
- Aboriginal women and children.
- Persons with disabilities.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
- Older persons.
- Persons of varying race or ethnicity.
- Persons of differing economic status.
The Effects of Violence
Violence can have many harmful and long-lasting effects on victims. Some of the consequences of violence include:
- Broken bones and bruises.
- Cuts and scars.
- Internal injuries.
- Eating disorders.
- Drug use.
- Unsafe behaviours like unprotected sex.
- Unwanted pregnancy.
- Sexually transmitted infections.
Remember, violence can negatively affect your self esteem and how you feel inside, which can affect:
- Personal relationships.
- School work.
- Ability to do your job.
The cycle of violence
Violence in relationships often occurs in a cycle. The cycle of violence consists of three phases:
- Honeymoon phase (or "hearts and flowers" phase).
- Tension building phase.
- Explosion phase.
At the beginning of the cycle of violence, during the honeymoon phase, the perpetrator is caring, loving and helpful, and there is the sense that all is well. This phase may also be known as the "hearts and flowers" period of the relationship.
Eventually, however, conflict begins to build within the relationship. During the tension building phase, tension rises at an uneven rate. At this stage, one may feel as if they are walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting the other person in the relationship.
The situation worsens until it finally results in the explosion phase where the perpetrator commits violence or abuse. This may be in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, spiritual or cultural violence as well as verbal or financial abuse or neglect.
Following the explosion phase, the honeymoon or reconciliation phase begins again. The perpetrator may express remorse and apologize for what happened. They may promise that they will never commit violence in the relationship ever again.
Despite the seemingly hopeful behaviour, however, the cycle of violence usually repeats itself. In some cases, the honeymoon phase completely disappears over time, and the cycle is reduced to no more than the tension build-up and explosion phases.
From the victim's point of view, the cycle of violence feels like this:
- "Things seem to be okay."
- "The "okay" times are disappearing and tension is building in the relationship."
- "Something bad is going to happen, I just don't know when."
- "Why does this keep happening, the fights keep getting worse."
- "Things seem to be okay again, I hope it stays okay this time."
Stand Up. Reach Out. Step in. Stop the Violence!