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Preventing Domestic Violence
Couples can sometimes work together to keep things civil

Domestic violence is a complex problem and simple answers do not exist.  While a male is usually the perpetrator of the violence, this is not always the case.  In a number of U.S. cities both partners are arrested any time the police are called about an incident of domestic violence.

In many cases of domestic violence the only solution is for the battered partner (usually, but not always the woman) to leave. In other cases a couple can make some changes to their relationship that will make violence less likely to occur.

One technique that can reduce violence in a relationship is for the couple to agree on a nonverbal signal that either of them can use to signal "time-out" during a disagreement - when they are concerned that violence might occur. Some couples use the time-out signal used in football; others agree to wave in a certain way. It is important that the signal be nonverbal, because a verbal signal quickly becomes just another part of the argument. Gesturing with the middle finger (or other culturally derogatory signals) are not recommended.

It is important for both partners to agree ahead of time to honor the signal. An agreed-upon "time-out" period of at least 10-20 minutes is essential for this to work, but it may sometimes be necessary to wait until the next day to resume the discussion. Each partner should initially go to a separate room to calm down.

While techniques like this will not solve the problem of domestic violence, they can help couples keep things constructive and improve their communication.  That's a step in the right direction.

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