Abuse Tactics

He Knows What He's Doing

Most victims ask if the abuser knows what he's doing. The answer is yes. The police abuser, even more than a civilian abuser, knows exactly what he wants to accomplish, and how to do it. He has psychological, emotional and sexual power over you because you share an intimate relationship. Your abuser most likely uses all the typical forms of abuse that civilian abusers use but he also has the benefit of professional training and knows how to use control tactics against you. He can use his knowledge of the law to turn it all around and put you on the defensive. The following are a few examples of how he can set you up.

Police reports

Police reports are supposed to be objective accounts. Officers know that the content and accuracy of the report is an important element of a complaint. As many victims have learned however, their reports can be inaccurate and biased. Your abuser makes a police report that you physically abused him, harassed him, stalked him, interfered with his visitation rights, etc. The police usually accept a report from a fellow officer without question. You make a police report against him. You have injuries, photos of your injuries, and a witness. He'll admit that he hit you, but claim that he had to do it because you were going to hurt him or hurt yourself. As he's told you many times, the police believe his story over yours.

Orders of protection

Police abusers get orders of protection against their victims so often that advocates call it "the race to the court house." He knows that the first one to get an order is usually the one people believe and help. He also knows it will be harder for you to get a protective order if he already has one against you. Many people, including judges, believe it is more embarrassing and humiliating for a man — especially a police officer — to admit that he is being beaten by a woman. The court is inclined to believe that he is the victim if he says he is and give him an order of protection. The abuser gains several advantages by getting an order. He can have you removed from the home. He can gain temporary custody of your children. This increases his chances of being granted permanent custody later. He can have the protective order prohibit you from contacting his department. This means you cannot report his behavior. He casts a shadow of a doubt on your credibility with the court and with the police department. If your abuser gets an order, it is important that you talk to an attorney or a legal advocate about counter-petitioning for your own protective order or getting his order vacated.

The abuser knows how to set you up to violate a no-contact order if you are the respondent. This is easy when you have children together, own property together, or work in the same department. He might page or phone you repeatedly. You know that if you don't return his calls you will suffer the consequences, so you call him back. He then reports you for violating the order. He can prove that you called by subpoenaing your phone records, but there are (of course) no records of his calls to you. Your abuser might tell you that he wants to meet with you to talk about reconciling, or about finances, or about the children. If you agree to see him, you are in violation of the order even if he initiated the contact.

Using visitation

There are many ways your abuser can use visitation to harass you. For example, when you have custody and he has visitation rights, he can show up at an unscheduled time when you and the child are not home. He can then call the police and report that you are in violation of the visitation order. The police can issue citations for interference with visitation in some jurisdictions. You then will have to go to court. This is a charge that most judges take very seriously. If you report knowledge or suspicion that he is abusing the children, he will appear outraged, deny the charges, and accuse you making a false police report. If you panic and illegally flee with the children, the abuser may get a judge to issue a warrant. He can use his professional status and contacts to track you down and have you put in jail for child abduction. At this point, the court will likely grant him temporary custody.


Your abuser can persuade other officers to arrest you for any number of things. For example, he might meet you for drinks to talk things over and then have you stopped for driving under the influence. He may arrange to meet with you privately and then falsely report that you assaulted him. He may meet with you in public and provoke you into yelling and "disturbing the peace."


Your abuser can force you to drink heavily or overdose on drugs. He can then call 911 and have you admitted for a suicide attempt. He can claim that you are a danger to yourself or your children and have a judge issue an order for a psychiatric evaluation. This can have serious consequences if you are fighting for custody.

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Verbal Abuse

Your abuser has received professional training to verbally intimidate and control people. What he says and how he says it can be as effective as a weapon. When his face changes and he gets that look in his eyes and screams at you, you are terrified and you do whatever he tells you to do. He achieves his goal without raising a hand to you. Many victims have quoted what their abusers say during their tirades. It turns out that most police abusers say exactly the same things, word for word. These are some of their most common lines...

When he says...

He means...

"I'm not going to argue with you." It's going to be my way, I don't care what you think.
"Don't make me do this. When will you learn to listen to me?" It's all up to you. I wouldn't have to do this if you'd just listen.
"It's over when I say it's over." I'm in control.
"You don't know who you're up against. I'll win, no matter what it takes." I'll have the last word.
"Nothing satisfies you. You're a bitch just like the rest of them."I won't even try to make this work. No woman is worth it.
"We don't have a problem, you have a problem." You go to counseling, you're the one who's sick.
"No one else would put up with your shit like I do." I'm the victim here.
"You knew I was a cop when you met me." Don't start complaining now.
"You've got it made. Other cops cheat on their wives, drink, do drugs. You're lucky to have me." I'm a prize and you don't know enough to appreciate me.
"You don't know a thing about the real world. You'd never survive without me. You were nothing when you met me. Everything you have is because of me." You're stupid and naïve. You should be grateful to me for rescuing you.
"This is MY house, MY car, MY money, these are MY kids." Don't even think about taking anything or anybody with you if you leave me.
"You don't know what abuse is. I'll take you to the morgue and show you what abuse is." What I did to you is nothing. You're still alive, so consider yourself lucky.
"I didn't do that — you bruise easy." I didn't hit you that hard. You're exaggerating.
"It's all in your head. You're crazy." You're imagining things or you're lying.
"If you just hadn't pushed me (hadn't said that, hadn't done that), I wouldn't have had to hit you." It's all your fault and you know better.
"The scumbags on the street treat me with more respect than you do. I don't take that shit from anybody, especially you." You're more worthless than any suspect on the street.
"I'll kill you if you fuck with my job. I could kill you and no one would ever prove it." Don't even think about going for help. I can get away with murder.
"Go ahead, call the police. Who do you think they'll believe? I already told them you're crazy." I am the police and everyone knows you're a crazy bitch.
"Cops stick together. They'll report what I tell them to report." The truth is irrelevant.
"Call the police and I'll lose my fucking job. Is that what you want?" You'll have no financial support.
"If I lose my job you're going down with me." We're in this together.
"Forget the past. Why can't you let anything go?" You have a problem because you can't erase the past.

Protecting Yourself

In order to break free of your abuser's control, you first have to come to grips with the fact that he knows exactly what he is doing. He behaves as he does to constantly reinforce his power over you. He's probably told you many times that, "you don't know who you're fucking with." Well, he's been counting on that.

The hardest thing you have to do is to accept that the man you love really is out to destroy you.

Once you know who you're really up against, you'll be able to actively plan for your future.

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As a victim of a police officer, your situation is very different than other domestic violence victims.

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Victim Handbook by Diane Wetendorf