Help A Friend
Help Us Get Safe!


H.U.G.S. Sharon is committed to making our community safer by educating the public regarding violence in relationships and by providing assistance to victims and families affected by domestic violence.

How to help a friend:

Games Batterers Play

Abusers will often use different tactics to manipulate the victim and obtain and maintain power and control in the relationship. The following list provides examples of such manipulation tactics.

Threats of suicide: Occasionally attempts are made, but rarely succeed. Makes victim feel responsible for their partner’s well being.

Threats to kill victim or the children: Certainly the most fear producing threat. May involve hunting for the victim or brandishing weapons. Can produce paralyzing fear.

Threaten mythical legal actions and sanctions: the most common threat is taking away child custody because of desertion.

Harass or threaten relatives or friends: makes victim feel responsible for the safety of these people. Often follows through with this threat.

Burns clothes or belongings: a symbolic gesture, which alternatively enrages and depresses the victim.

Organizes a posse of relatives and friends, including in-laws, to search for and convince the victim of her/his mistake: can be very overwhelming and powerful.

Reports that the abuser (or a close friend or relative) has been in a car accident and has been hospitalized: this fake report is very effective in flushing a victim from hiding and leaving them off guard for other tricks.

Cry, saying he/she can’t live without the victim: guilt and a sense of responsibility for abuser’s life is difficult to shake.

Promise to get counseling: usually won’t follow through, but sometimes will go only to focus on how to get the victim back. Will usually discontinue when and if victim returns home. Couples counseling is very dangerous for victims of domestic violence and is strongly discouraged.

Makes promises in general: won’t hit again, will clean house, give up drinking or drugs, get rid of guns, go to work, etc.

Develops psychosomatic complaints: can’t eat, can’t sleep, nausea, etc. Again, guilt and responsibility make it tough to ignore.

These are only a few of the many possible “games” batterers may play. Victims who have not been helped to anticipate these “games” could quite effectively be forced to return to unchanged situations, only to find the threats and promises very short-lived. (adapted from Susan Swala, RDVIC, Morgantown,; Domestic Violence Project at WMLS/Americorps Spring 2003 Western Massachusetts Legal Services, Inc. 152 North Street, Suite E M, Pittsfield, MA 01201)