Why Do Women Remain In Abusive Relationships?
The Terrifying Truth
As a survivor of domestic violence, I feel strongly about this subject and feel like I need to educate some on the mindset of the victims of such nonsense. I did research for my facts, and also speak from experience. Domestic abuse, in whatever form, is never OK.
In 2008 it was reported by the Bureau of Justice that 4 out of 1,000 women were victims of domestic abuse. While it has declined 53% from 1993 to 2008, that is still too many. Not to mention there are thousands of cases that go unreported each day. The really frightening fact of all is that most of these women will stay in the relationship. Some will be murdered by the person that is abusing them.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior used by one intimate partner on another to maintain control over them. It can take many forms, but the result is the same. The abused is made to feel powerless and out of control of their own life.
- Physical abuse is the first thought that comes to mind when domestic violence is mentioned. Physical abuse is any physical act that brings about harm to another person including hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, etc. It can also mean denying the partner medical care or forcing drug or alcohol use upon them.
- Sexual abuse is defined as coercing or attempting to coerce any type of sexual activity without consent. This means any type of forced marital sex (rape), forcing sex after violence, or treating the partner in a sexually demeaning way.
- Psychological abuse is the result of being frightened by intimidation by a partner. When threats of violence against one's self or others are made, personal property is destroyed, or isolation from friends, family, school, work, etc. has occurred, it is psychological abuse.
- Economic abuse is exactly what it sounds like. When financial dependence on a partner is forced it's considered economic abuse. It also means when a person is forbidden from getting a job or has to ask for money or permission to purchase anything.
- Emotional abuse is when a partner attacks the self-worth and self-esteem of another. When one criticizes the looks, abilities, or intelligence of another it is emotional abuse. This could also include parenting abilities or personality aspects.
So Why Do They Stay?
There are many, many different reasons why women decide to stay involved with an abusive person. Even though an outsider looking in asks, "Why on earth would she stay with that person? I would just pack my stuff and leave!" it's not always that easy. The reasons can range from having to stay because of money issues to staying because they feel they have no other choice. Let's examine some of the main reasons why women stay.
Some women are full time housewives and have no other income to depend on except their husband's or partner's. They will completely occupy themselves cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children and will not have time for any other type of formal training or education. Therefore, they are simply stuck depending on their partner's income to get by. How are they going to make it if they leave? They don't have anything to fall back on to take care of their children. So they grin and bear it, thinking there is no hope but to endure for the sake of their own and their children's survival.
I know of women who were abused and would take a small amount of money each time they got a chance and would hide it. When they got up enough money to survive for a little while on their own, they would pack their things and leave. If you are in this situation, plot an escape route. Make plans with friends or family to stay with them for a while until you can get on your feet. If you have no one to help you there are government funded shelters made specifically for victims of domestic abuse and their children. Most of these centers will even help you to find a job and a place to live so you can independently support your family.
When you live with a constant barrage of threats of violence you become terrified. What if you leave this person and they kill themselves? What if they come after you and kill you or your family? These threats are enough to make anyone afraid to leave, especially if you hear it all the time. The problem is that when these threats are made and a woman tries to leave, sometime she is killed. These types of situations are on the news every day. The women that are in these relationships really have no choice but to stay in their mind.
If you are in a relationship like this you need to get out as soon as you can. Find the resources that are right for you (like Safe Place or some other domestic violence shelter). Don't be afraid to call the police if you feel your life is in danger. Call them when you start to leave and tell them in detail of the threats that have been made against your life. The police are there to help.
As crazy as it may sound, some women have deep love for their abusive partners. They completely believe that the abuser is sorry for the abuse and will change because they love them too. Another reason they will stay is for the children. They want their children to have a mother and father in their life, and they will endure this horrible life because they want the best for their kids.
What these women don't realize is that the abuser will never change their ways without some serious deep counseling and possible medication for anger management. Even then most wont change at all. As for staying for the children they are just creating a vicious cycle for their kids to live. When they grow up they will think abuse is the norm and it is OK. The little girls will end up in abusive relationships and the little boys will become abusers. Or vice verse. Nothing good comes from staying.
Family Values and Social Acceptance
In quite a few societies, women are not supposed to leave their home. It even says in the bible somewhere (or so I've heard) that divorce is a sin. When some women leave because of domestic violence, they suffer a social stigma from their peers as being irresponsible. In order to avoid the feeling of being an outcast, they simply stay in the relationship.
Single moms are becoming more common. Leaving an abusive husband in the United States is almost completely acceptable now. I say almost because there are still some religions and societies that insist you stay no matter what.
Lack of Information
Unfortunately there are too many women who do not know about all the wonderful organizations available to help them better their lives. It is for this reason they continue to stay. The lack of information can be combined with any of the other reasons to make the woman feel completely and utterly stuck. Perhaps abuse is all they have ever known and think it is OK.
Abuse is never OK in any form. We need to reach out to these women and their children before it is too late. Too many women have been put in their grave by the person that claims to love them. Even though the statistics say that domestic violence is on the decline we should never be satisfied until it is completely eliminated. There is no excuse for it.
There IS Help Available
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, here are some resources to help you find your way out before something horrible happens, or happens again. Seek help, especially if children are involved.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Domestic Violence Resources
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
To be connected to the rape crisis center nearest to you, dial
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Resource Center
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
You can also chat live on-line with a trained Peer Advocate from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (CST) daily.
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