When Your Batterer Is a Police Officer

Your Situation Is Different

Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as a battered women's shelter, a domestic violence agency, or an Order of Protection. Battered women and their advocates have worked hard to raise public awareness and lower society's tolerance of this crime. As a result of their work, today there are hundreds of shelters and domestic violence agencies across the country and every state has laws against domestic violence. The federal government spends millions of dollars annually to combat this crime against women.

There is a wealth of information and resources available to help victims of domestic violence recognize and escape the violence in their lives, except if your batterer happens to be a police officer.

Extraordinary Obstacles

If your batterer is a police officer, most of the progress that has been made in developing resources and assistance for battered women is of little benefit to you. Victims of police officers are still as isolated and invisible as all the victims of this crime were thirty years ago. Work now needs to be done to raise the public's awareness of domestic violence in the police home. Society must hold police officers accountable to not only enforce the law, but to live by it.

As the victim of a police officer, your situation is very different than that of other victims. If you have ever tried to get help you may have become discouraged because no one seemed to understand your plight. Even domestic violence counselors probably offered you the same options they offer other battered women, such as calling the police for intervention, seeking refuge in a shelter, or obtaining an Order of Protection.

Few people fully realize how extremely complex common remedies become when the perpetrator is a police officer.

Because of the extraordinary obstacles you face on your journey to safety, you will need to make extraordinarily creative plans to overcome those obstacles.

Focus On Your Survival

You may or may not be thinking about ending your relationship right now. But the fact that you are reading this means that you're at the point of wanting to change your life. You may still be in love with your partner and desperately want things to work out between you. You and your children may be financially dependent on him. You may be terrified of what he'll do to you if you ever try to leave him. You will probably do everything you can think of to make him change his behavior.

Most women try several avenues to change. The most common attempts include asking the abuser's colleagues or supervisors to talk to him, persuading him to go to counseling, offering to go to counseling with him, getting an Order of Protection, separating from him, even filing for divorce. Though it is possible that any of these strategies could work, often no matter what you or others do, the abuser continues to be manipulating, controlling, and/or violent. After you have exhausted all of your options to get him to change, you may be left with no choice but to focus on your own emotional and/or physical survival.

You Can Get Your Life Back

Focusing on your own survival means that you have decided to take back control of your own life. To do that, you must regain trust in your own thought processes, intuition, and your own gut feelings. It is very hard to rebuild confidence in yourself after your abuser has destroyed it, so you might want to talk to a domestic violence counselor or therapist who can give you support and encouragement. It helps to have someone with whom you can discuss all of your options for safety and learn how to minimize the involved risks. You will want to thoroughly consider the personal, financial and legal ramifications of every option available to you as you make your decisions. This may seem overwhelming at times, especially if you are in the middle of a crisis while having to make important decisions.

There are no easy answers. The fact that many, many women have survived domestic violence at the hands of a police officer attests to the fact that your escape and your survival are possible.

The following section describes some of the types of abuse that abusive police officers use to control their intimate partners. Your abuser may use some or all of them at different levels of the abuse spectrum. Reframing your experience with this perspective may help you resist his control and maintain control of your own life.

Excerpt from Police Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Victims. Diane Wetendorf, ©2000, 2006, 2013 All rights reserved.

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There are no easy answers. The fact that many women have survived shows that your survival is possible.

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