May We Reduce Domestic Violence by Learning Conflict Skills?

During domestic violence awareness month, it is common to talk about the myriad of reasons victims stay in abusive relationships or how abusers cycle between violence and remorse. What if we backed up a bit to what underlies violence? Could we trace domestic situations to the inability to constructively resolve conflict? Do abusers know how to share feelings in a healthy and respectful manner? Have victims been taught to ignore their own feelings and needs to appease others? Could conflict resolution skills change the way people communicate and reduce violence?

Conflict resolution skills may be simplified into four steps: clarify, consider, choose, and create. First, clarify feelings and needs, remaining mindful of the difference between needs and strategies, and identify the actual facts involved. Then, consider all of the possible strategies to meet the needs, as well as the perspective(s)/feelings/needs of the other person(s) involved in the conflict. Next, choose the best outcome and the thoughts required to generate the words and actions that allow you to show up as your best self to accomplish it. Finally, create a plan to meet your individual needs. Ideally strategies may be found to meet everyone’s needs. However, meeting your own needs, especially for safety and security, must be given top priority. 

Based upon Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication work, healthy communication may be simply stated as: 

         When I see or hear____________, I feel ________________ because I need ____________________.  Will you please _______________________?

While conflict resolution skills may reduce domestic violence, individual ability and capacity to grasp healthy and constructive conflict skills vary greatly. Domestic violence is a very serious situation and if you experience physical, emotional, sexual, digital, or financial abuse, please seek help through a local advocacy agency. You may find more information online at https://www.thehotline.org or by calling 1-800-799-7923 (1-800-787-3224 (TTY)).

A civil and family mediator, peace builder, and educator, Sherry Ann Bruckner lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit brucknermediation.com/services to learn more or call Sherry at (320) 808-3212 for help to transform conflict and create peace.

As always, be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.