A new study that followed the phone conversations of 17 men who had been accused of domestic violence has shed light on exactly why many victims of domestic violence drop accusations in the days and weeks after an assault. While many assumed that abusers relied on threats of violence in order to get their spouses and partners to recant their testimony, the study found that most abusers manipulate their victims with sympathy.

The study, which will appear online in the journal Social Science and Medicine, examined between a half-hour and two hours of conversations between over a dozen men and their abused partners as the men waited in jail regarding domestic abuse charges.

Minimizing and Downplaying Events 


Researchers found that the first conversations usually involved a rehashing on the argument that took place on the night of the incident and the abused party acting confident and strong. By the third conversation, alleged domestic abusers will attempt to minimize events and downplay what had happened. Finally, abusers manipulate their partners into feeling sympathy for their plight – the poor conditions of the jail, the seriousness of the charges, and even missing their partner. Soon, the victim is agreeing to recant her story.

What can we learn from this study? Domestic abuse is much more than physical violence. Many abusers use mind games and manipulation to continue their cycle of abuse and keep their partner under their control. Those in an abusive relationship should understand these harmful patterns of violence and sympathy and try to break the cycle.

Do you need a domestic violence attorney in Washington State? Contact Molly Kenny today at (425) 460-0550

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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