Pre-emptive Tactics

It's All Planned

Most victims ask if the abuser knows what he's doing. The answer is yes. The police abuser, even more than a civilian abuser, knows exactly what he wants to accomplish, and how to do it. He has the benefit of professional training and knows how to establish control.

Just as an on-duty officer who perceives a threat doesn't wait until he is under attack to protect himself, an officer who batters doesn't wait until his victim takes action.

Your abuser most likely uses all the typical forms of abuse that civilian abusers use. But in addition to these, he uses his police tactics on you. He knows they will work on you even better than they work with people on the street. He has psychological, emotional and sexual power over you because you share an intimate relationship.

Setting You Up

An abusive officer is adept at turning it all around to be your fault. He uses his police powers and his knowledge of the law to put you on the defensive. The following are a few examples of how he can set you up.

Police reports

Police reports are supposed to be objective accounts. Officers know that the content and accuracy of the report is an important element of a complaint. As many victims have learned however, their reports can be inaccurate and biased. Your abuser makes a police report that you physically abused him, harassed him, stalked him, interfered with his visitation rights, etc. The police usually accept a report from a fellow officer without question. You make a police report against him. You have injuries, photos of your injuries, and a witness. He'll admit that he hit you, but claim that he had to do it because you were going to hurt him or hurt yourself. As he's told you many times, the police believe his story over yours.

Orders of protection

Police abusers get orders of protection against their victims so often that advocates call it "the race to the court house." He knows that the first one to get an order is usually the one people believe and help. He also knows it will be harder for you to get a protective order if he already has one against you. Many people, including judges, believe it is more embarrassing and humiliating for a man — especially a police officer — to admit that he is being beaten by a woman. The court is inclined to believe that he is the victim if he says he is and give him an order of protection. The abuser gains several advantages by getting an order. He can have you removed from the home. He can gain temporary custody of your children. This increases his chances of being granted permanent custody later. He can have the protective order prohibit you from contacting his department. This means you cannot report his behavior. He casts a shadow of a doubt on your credibility with the court and with the police department. If your abuser gets an order, it is important that you talk to an attorney or a legal advocate about counter-petitioning for your own protective order or getting his order vacated.

The abuser knows how to set you up to violate a no-contact order if you are the respondent. This is easy when you have children together, own property together, or work in the same department. He might page or phone you repeatedly. You know that if you don't return his calls you will suffer the consequences, so you call him back. He then reports you for violating the order. He can prove that you called by subpoenaing your phone records, but there are (of course) no records of his calls to you. Your abuser might tell you that he wants to meet with you to talk about reconciling, or about finances, or about the children. If you agree to see him, you are in violation of the order even if he initiated the contact.

Back to top

Using visitation

There are many ways your abuser can use visitation to harass you. For example, when you have custody and he has visitation rights, he can show up at an unscheduled time when you and the child are not home. He can then call the police and report that you are in violation of the visitation order. The police can issue citations for interference with visitation in some jurisdictions. You then will have to go to court. This is a charge that most judges take very seriously. If you report knowledge or suspicion that he is abusing the children, he will appear outraged, deny the charges, and accuse you making a false police report. If you panic and illegally flee with the children, the abuser may get a judge to issue a warrant. He can use his professional status and contacts to track you down and have you put in jail for child abduction. At this point, the court will likely grant him temporary custody.


Your abuser can persuade other officers to arrest you for any number of things. For example, he might meet you for drinks to talk things over and then have you stopped for driving under the influence. He may arrange to meet with you privately and then falsely report that you assaulted him. He may meet with you in public and provoke you into yelling and "disturbing the peace."


Your abuser can force you to drink heavily or overdose on drugs. He can then call 911 and have you admitted for a suicide attempt. He can claim that you are a danger to yourself or your children and have a judge issue an order for a psychiatric evaluation. This can have serious consequences if you are fighting for custody.

Protecting Yourself

In order to break free of your abuser's control, you first have to come to grips with the fact that he knows exactly what he is doing. He behaves as he does to constantly reinforce his power over you. He's probably told you many times that, "you don't know who you're fucking with." Well, he's been counting on that.

The hardest thing you have to do is to accept that the man you love really is out to destroy you.

Once you know who you're really up against, you'll be able to actively plan for your future.

Back to top


Training, attitudes and values affect how individuals and departments respond to OIDV.

Our books are available through:

SmashWords (e-book)
Victim Handbook
PG Direct (print)
Hijacked by the Right
Crossing the Threshold
Amazon (print)
Hijacked by the Right
Crossing the Threshold
Crossing the Threshold by Diane Wetendorf