Two separate instances in Coral Springs and Miami Beach, respectively, occurred last week in which mothers sought to harm their children. In one of them, a mother instructed her two young children to unbuckle their seat belts and then intentionally rammed her car into the garage door of a home. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in that accident.
Such events have social service agencies and police departments scrambling to disseminate helpful advice to persons who they feel might be on an emotional edge and intent on committing or possibly about to commit violent acts, including acts of domestic violence.
One such agency is the Broward County organization called Women in Distress, a group that counsels both women and men who are victims of domestic abuse. In addition to providing contact numbers and other relevant information that might help potential abusers calm down and reconsider their conduct and options, Women in Distress also provides a written list of factors that commonly serve as warning signs that somebody might be an abuser. Persons who commit acts of domestic abuse seldom have blank slates; rather, there is often much that has accumulated in their lives that contributes to a propensity for violence. The list supplied by Women in Distress centrally includes the following:
- History of violence — Has a person battered before? If so, this greatly increases the likelihood for a repeat occurrence
- Cruelty to children or animals — Demonstrates a clear lack of empathy
- Tendency to be jealous or possessive — Abusers often seek to isolate those they abuse by denying them friends, time alone and work opportunities
- Abused by parents — Statistics offer strong proof that boys who witnessed their fathers abuse their mothers will often become abusers themselves later in life
Last, a clear sign that a relationship could be in future danger if continued is abuse — physical, mental and emotional — that is occurring in its earliest stages, especially during courtship.
Related Resource: Sun Sentinel, “For stressed parents: There is help” June 3, 2011