Why Women Do Not Leave Abusive Relationships
Why Women Stay
When it comes to domestic violence, one question gets asked over and over again, why does she stay? There is no single answer to this question. There never will be either. There will however, be a few general underlying truths that factor into each unique equation.
-She stays because she is hopeful. He wooed her with unwavering attention to romantic detail. His devotion to pursuing her made her feel remarkably desired. His mildly degrading comments regarding her clothes, her friends, her family, it was all meant to be taken in the best possible way. He only wants the absolute best for her. It was not his intention to hurt her feelings, he was just a little bit brusque. Before she knows it, he’s apologizing for hurting her physically, her friends and family have become less present, and she is not quite sure what is going on. In her eyes, she believes his excuses and feels that if she pays attention and does everything in her power to ease his troubles and make him happy, he will stop taking it out on her.
-She stays because she is afraid. Somewhere along the time line she has lost her feeling of self confidence. To paraphrase an old anonymous saying, ‘if you tell someone something long enough, eventually they will start to believe it.’ Initially she may have been hurt by his words but angered at their implications. When their fights escalated and her side of the argument was always minimized, his twisted logic started to nag at her. She starts to wonder if somehow he saw something she would not. She starts to doubt herself. Over time she is no longer sure she can manage to be on her own again. The daily mental interrogation of her self is agonizing and exhausting. She fears him, but she fears the world more.
-She stays for the children. Whether or not she grew up in a broken home has little bearing over this one. What matters is that she feels so strongly in not having a broken home, that she bears the brunt of all his controlling anger in order to have her family in one piece. This may be out of vanity and pride, not wanting anyone to know, or it may be out of staunch religious beliefs that marriage only ends in death, even if at his hand. She strives to be the perfect wife and mother, dutifully raising their children to respect the king of their castle. She is not afraid that she cannot make it on her own, but would rather stay than see her children live through the inevitably messy divorce and be subjected to the ridicule and heartbreak she is sure they would endure.
-She stays because she does not know any better. This woman grew up watching her mother be abused. More than likely her siblings and her suffered the abuse as well. There may even be other family members that are abusive or are victims. It is what she has seen all her life. She may know it is wrong but ends up in the same kind of relationship anyway, either by intentional design or coincidental accident. Without having had the opportunity to witness a functional relationship, she is at a loss and comes to the conclusion that television is truly all fantasy and nowhere close to touching on the reality as she knows it. She does not believe that she deserves any better.
-She stays because she has nowhere else to go. In each of the above scenarios, there is likely one uniting factor, they do not know where to go. Many rural areas do not have shelters for domestic victims within a close proximity and many suburban areas choose to ignore the need altogether. Many of these women have been so sheltered from their previous lives that they are unaware that they have friends or family that are willing to help them. They think they have lost that option. Having a local shelter can mean the difference between life and death. For many women, the nearest shelter is too far to walk and using the vehicle is often not a viable option. She may not be allowed out without him, she may no longer have a valid license, she may not even be allowed to know where the car keys are. Many also do not know that most sheriff departments are required to provide transportation to the nearest shelter if requested. If she does not know she has help available, it makes it that much more difficult to leave.
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