Personal injury is not the main feature distinguishing conflict from systemic violence in the case of domestic violence. During a dispute, the physical contact resulting with injuries might occur. Therefore, with the aim to assess the situation better it is important to focus on the power dynamics between the both parties. It might be balanced or based on domination.
Comparison of power dynamics during conflict and systemic violence (ex.)
Conflicts are one-off and not regular, both partners might initiate them as well as discuss, whereas the discussion changes the behaviour of a person who provoked the conflict. The instigator of a conflict feels responsible for what has happened. When partners know each other better, the likelihood of a conflict diminishes, as it is the problem of both partners that take into account each other’s view. The conflict is a spontaneous reaction which (most often) is provoked by external factors (disappointment, fatigue, fear). The damage done during the conflict might be restored, the decisions aim at improving relations.
Systemic violence, on the contrary is a regular one. The roles of the aggressor and the victim do not change, therefore such relations cannot be successfully discussed, the discussion on this issue does not bring any changes, violence intensifies all the time. This coercive behaviour is exercised due to economic, social, cultural or physical power misbalance, therefore the perpetrator does not assume the responsibility and blames the victim. Such relations recognise the one approach only, that of a stronger person and the decision to resort to violence is a conscious one. One cannot just forgive for the damage done as in this case the crime is committed, the problem can be solved only by resorting to external measures: law enforcement, the intervention of different institutions, divorce, therapy and self-help, with the aim to overcome the way the victim is feeling – helplessness, fear, self-blame.