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 or by calling 1-800-799-7923 (1-800-787-3224 (TTY)).

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner, JD, enjoys helping you bridge the gap from where you are to where you wish to be. An attorney, mediator, coach, speaker, and trainer, she strongly believes in the transformational power of clarity, compassion, curiosity, and cribbage.

Sherry Ann invites and encourages you to consider your own level of peace. Inner peace creates outer peace and personal peace leads to world peace. You may find her enjoying a game or hiking a state park. Sherry Ann lives near Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit to learn more or give her a call at (320) 808-3212.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

Be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.