I Don't Wanna Go Back
Despite what many people believe, victims of domestic violence do not typically want to return to an abusive partner or spouse. There are many reasons why they do, however... some of which you may not be aware of. To properly understand these reasons, you first have to know why a person abuses in the first place.
Many abusers come from homes riddled with violence... whether physical, mental, sexual or any other type of abuse. Scientists now believe, that... repeated abuse (no matter how severe) will, undoubtedly, affect the impressionable and growing mind of a young child raised in such an environment. Some children will begin, at a very young age, to mimic the abuse witnessed by throwing constant temper tantrums, many times to the point of inconsolability. They will show signs of aggitation, fear, nervousness and aggression. Children in these situations may even show aggression and anger toward other people, and animals. If there happens to be a pet in the home, for instance, it would not be unheard of for a child to exhibit anger and even physical abuse toward the pet. So, this is typically how the violence begins.
There are various scenarios as to how an abuser (or a victim) becomes such. Of course, there are many people who come from perfectly happy homes, only to go on and become an abuser (or victim) later on in life. The typical cycle, though, happens as described above.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, a child victim of abuse will typically act out in various ways. In addition to those mentioned above, a child may begin acting up, acting out... often, in an attempt for positive attention. They often do not realize, this is not a way to obtain positive attention, for it will usually land them in some kind of trouble. This behavior may progress to include more serious offenses, such as physical violence, psychological manipulation, and... throughout adolescence, behaviors such as verbally abusing, mentally abusing, physically abusing and even sexually abusing others.
There is also a huge, social aspect in relation to abuse. That is... most victims of domestic violence do not have many social skills, or many positive ones at that. If a child grows up in such a violent and chaotic atmosphere, where will they learn self-love, kindness, how to treat others or how to properly function in a world full of human beings? How will they grow, socially... how will they learn who to date, who they can trust, why saying, "Sorry" doesn't excuse abusive behavior? The honest answer, is... they won't learn, and this is how simple it is for this population to go into the world, without these basic skills, and choose to have a relationship with someone who is less than decent.
Once in such a relationship, the abuser sees his/her opportunity... their opportunity to gain control. Things, in the beginning, will be "normal." The abuser is on their best behavior now. They can be the sweetest, most loving people. They might even give gifts and take you places. This is called grooming, or (in my mind) plain manipulation. Once they've done their "grooming," you may notice little things... things that seem to irritate them or set them off, where before... there didn't seem to be a problem. One such behavior could be jealousy. They might get irritated at the fact that you looked "a little too long" at someone of the opposite sex. You could be walking through the mall, when someone smiles at you... so, you smile back. The abuser might make a comment such as, "What are you looking at HIM for?," and just laugh. You'll think it strange, however... because he laughed, you blow it off thinking, "It was no big deal!" It progresses from these "silly" comments to more serious comments, i.e., "I guess you don't wanna be with ME anymore! You're always looking at other people!!!"
Once the verbal abuse is in play, then comes the emotional abuse. Oftentimes, these two go hand-in-hand. The comments will start to get personal, and will often be very hurtful. Maybe you're arguing about where to spend spring break, when you suggest going to your parent's house on the beach. He becomes irritated (for no, apparent reason) and says something like, "Now, why would I want to go there? You know I hate water! Besides... remember the last time I saw your mother? She ignored me and treated me like dirt! She really makes me SICK!!!" The comments will often come out of nowhere and make very little sense. This verbal abuse is, yet, another red flag to watch out for.
The verbal abuse will progress, eventually, to physical abuse. Let me make this crystal clear: If any person puts his/her hands on you, in an intimidating manner, that IS physical abuse! There are those that will say, "Well... did he hit you? Show me where (as in, where the "mark" is). Did he SAY he would kill you and everyone in the house?" These are just some of the ways a person can be physically abused:
slapping, pinching, poking, pulling hair, twisting arm (or other body part), stepping on, sitting on, kicking, burning, cutting, choking, smothering, squeezing and others
Once the abuse has progressed to this stage, the victim has been abused in so many other ways, he/she has little to no self-esteem... which she will need to get herself out of the situation. Many victims of domestic violence suffer from mental health issues, and should not be judged for this. These issues need to be treated in the same way as the victim, themselves... very delicately. The victim will usually need counseling, if not medication to help them get to where they were, mentally, before the abuse.
The bottom line, is... do not berate or assume anything about domestic violence victims. They need the help of people who care. They need those who will be kind, non-judgemental, empathetic, loving and helpful. This is the only way a victim will ever be able to leave their abuser and stay away!
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