2. bi-directional dynamic

Anneli and Patricia from the perspective of both women

The interviews with both women took place in July 2007. When the interviews took place, they had been in a relationship for 18 months but had known each other for around 12 years. During this time Patricia was married, but began an “affair” with Anneli; she stresses that “this then became more serious”. Because Patricia saw her marriage as being in jeopardy, she broke off contact and then re-established it approximately two years prior to the interview. Patricia is physically disabled as the result of an accident. This occurred only a year before the interview, which means that it took place during the partnership. Prior to this, she was a “full-time working woman with complete freedom of movement”. Patricia works in the finance sector, Anneli in the social welfare area. Anneli is in her late 30s and Patricia in her mid 40’s.

Both women described their own violence and that of their partner. At the time of the interview the last physical attack lay two weeks in the past. Looking back, both women describe an increase in the severity of violence during the course of their relationship.

Anneli and Patricia describe the most recent violent situation as follows:

The women visited a street festival together. While there, they consumed a “relatively large amount” of alcohol. A conflict arose in which Anneli “felt abandoned”. Following a verbal dispute, the couple decided to go home. They travelled by public transport, but each in a different compartment. Anneli went home but her partner didn’t follow. According to Patricia, in contrast, Anneli had “left her alone” on public transport because she didn’t accompany her as she went ahead to one of the front compartments. This so annoyed her that she didn’t disembark at their usual station but travelled several stations further. Anneli was “very worried”, particularly as Patricia is physically disabled. When Patricia arrived home two hours later, it came to a renewed exchange of “verbal abuse”, which then escalated. Finally she “let loose on” Patricia; she “shook” and berate her. The women then hit each other, though Anneli says that she was “more aggressive” with Patricia. As a consequence Patricia left the house. Anneli was afraid of losing her and followed her. She climbed into the taxi after her, however the taxi driver refused to drive the two women. Either he or Patricia called the police who issued Anneli with a “restraining order”.

However, Anneli “did not take this seriously” and returned to the site of the incident. The police officers placed themselves in front of Patricia and Anneli attempted to “push past them”. Finally, Anneli attacked the officers, punching and kicking them. As a result, she was “hand-cuffed” and brought to the watch house. There she “continued to run amok for a while” because in her opinion she had been unjustly treated. A court case was pending at the time of the interview. Both women were concerned with how this could be averted for Anneli.

Anneli reported that in the dispute with her partner, she felt “helpless” because Patricia comes and goes and simply does what she wants.  At the same time, she was afraid of losing her partner. Both statements can be interpreted as the perception of loss of control. In describing herself, Anneli stated that jealousy was a “big issue” for her.  She gave the grounds for her jealousy as her uncertainty in respect to Patricia. She had experienced her as “inconsistent” in the beginning and stated that she had no trust in the partnership. She reasoned that her lack of trust was due to Patricia’s late coming-out. She had “very strongly confronted” Patricia with this apprehension on several occasions. It can be assumed that this interpretation was intended to place a quite serious conflict into a milder light and that she repeatedly sought confirmation of her perception from her partner Patricia. However Patricia felt affronted and hurt, and was very exasperated.

Later, Anneli related that she had not been violent in the past year but that it repeatedly came to attacks from Patricia. Three months earlier, a dispute had arisen about Anneli’s jealousy, during which Patricia physically attacked her. In conclusion she described the situation as “they both heftily let loose at each other”. She was no longer clear who had struck first. Both women carried haematoma from this incident. In another situation that lay only a month in the past, Patricia had thrown glasses at her at a public celebration. Anneli was surprised at the intensity of Patricia’s aggression towards her. She had not expected Patricia to lose control in public. But even before this Patricia had repeatedly hit her, “thrashed out around herself” and bit her on the finger or leg, and pulled her hair. Anneli described Patricia’s attacks as “impulsive eruptions” that she believed she would be able to control “I’ll manage that somehow, get a handle on it”. This statement suggests that she was of the opinion that she could control her partner’s behaviour.  This attitude is associated with a sense of superiority over her partner.

Further, Anneli reported that she was ashamed of her violent behaviour and only related the details of what happened to those friends who would respond with “understanding”. She “naturally didn’t describe the situation in such detail” to the others since “they had totally different perspectives”.

This allows the assumption that Anneli is aware of her wrongdoing and attempts to avoid criticism by being selective about the information she passes on to different people.
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