Domestic violence is a huge topic in society and also disturbing and controversial in Second Life.
Domestic violence can be explicit or veiled in Second Life. It can occur against women or men, joined by partnership, including a number of cases, such as verbal and psychological violence against each other.
Psychological violence can be practiced in Second Life. It involves verbal abuse, psychological abuse, threats and aggressive tones. Aggression doesn’t always involve a physical attack to be considered domestic violence. When one partner in a relationship tries to control and dominate the other, that is domestic violence. There are many types of DV. Here are some examples that happen in Second Life:
• Emotional Aggression: swearing, depreciating your partner, emotional blackmail; and humiliate of a partner.
• Virtual Sexual assault: consider the partner as a virtual sex object; force the partner to have virtual sex or require the partner to have sexual attitudes towards others.
• Insist on being in control: Treating your partner as a slave without their consent.
• Isolation: forbidding a partner to see people; controlling their company and conversation; wanting to track their location at all times.
The aggressor, for example, may require the control of the social life of the victim, preventing him or her from attending clubs or making new friends. The sense of ownership of one partner over the other, as well as impunity are factors that generalize control and domestic violence.
Whyare some people willing to subject him or herself to domestic violence in Second Life?
I'm not talking about of the world Gor, BDSM, Masters & lovers, etc. Generally, people who live in these worlds, establish consensual rules. My focus is on ordinary people and their everyday experiences in Second Life. Many people say SL is all consensual but these behaviors exist.
In addition, there are the options of muting, AR'ing, TP'ing away, removal of collars, ending the partnership, removing the avatar from your list of friends, etc. However, domestic violence may still exist and the victim will only take any action after he has suffered the abuse.
There are also those who, for emotional issues, may feel intimidated and unable to use the tools available to prevent violence from happening again.
The victim of domestic violence generally have low self-esteem and are tied in dealing with aggressors, either by emotional dependence or even material. The abuser often accuse the victim of being responsible for the assault and the victim ends up suffering a great guilt and shame.
The victim also feels violated and betrayed, as the abuser promises that will never repeat this kind of behavior but, in general, the behavior is repeated.
In some situations, domestic violence persists chronically because one partner has an attitude of acceptance and inability to turn off that setting. To understand this behavior, persistently linked to the environment of domestic violence, we could compare it with the attitude described as codependency, found in the homes of alcoholics and drug addicts.
The psychological or emotional aggression suffered in Second Life, can be more harmful than the physical one, and is characterized by rejection, depreciation, discrimination, humiliation and disrespect.
This aggression does not leave physical marks but can cause emotional scars for life affecting even the real life.
How to get out of domestic violence in SL?
The first step is to break the cycle of violence and overcome the emotional barriers:
• Seek help from someone you trust, a friend, or friends and say that you are suffering with it, tell your story.
While it may be difficult to talk about violence and abuse, in a virtual environment, you instantly feel relief and can get emotional support and guidance of your friends;
• I do not feel safe in stating support groups in SL. You never know the Freud pretender who will be playing the other side. What I can say, especially if you are having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy is: seek outside help in RL. Find a support group or counselor.
Help in RL should positively influence how a person perceives their situation in SL and, hopefully, provide the necessary assistance to the person to get out of the vicious circle of domestic violence.