- Gender and Relationships»
- Relationship Problems & Advice
Not what she expected...
Why Does Abuse Happen at Home?
I have counseled countless women who have suffered abuse at the hands of the "man of their dreams", this wonderful man who promised to love and to cherish them at the wedding altar. I do realize that abuse also happens the other way around when the wife is abusive to her husband, but the facts and statistics clearly show that most often it is the husband who abuses his wife and this is the situation that I am addressing here. Usually the husband is larger than the woman and has a position of power that can easily be used in a damaging manner.
There are many forms of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, religious abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and the list goes on. We are all fairly familiar with physical abuse, when the bruises, cuts, and other physical signs are present. Sexual abuse is not as easily detected, neither for the victim or for outsiders. Anytime a husband forces, manipulates, coerces, or puts pressure on his spouse to perform certain sexual acts that she does not feel comfortable doing, that constitutes abuse.
Financial abuse happens when a husband maintains complete control of the couple's finances, either giving very little money to his wife to pay the bills and buy groceries, or denying any access to the couples finances. It can also be considered abuse when the husband forces the wife to work long hours while he does nothing, and then controls the money that she has earned. He may also buy "man toys" with the money that she has earned, leaving little in the bank to buy food, medicine and other necessary items for the home and children.
Verbal and Emotional Abuse
Verbal and emotional abuse occurs more often than we would like to believe. Some men will not raise their hand against their wife, but they are prone to use their words to hurt the woman they vowed to love and cherish. Comments such as "You're good for nothing" or "I wish I had never married you" or worse are common from abusive husbands. Being loving one minute and hateful the next keeps the wife in a constant state of confusion and emotional upheaval. Anger outbursts and intense jealousy are also forms of abuse that can wear down a woman's spirit and lead her to question herself constantly. Being blamed for everything that happens is a way to belittle her and make her begin to believe that she is in fact guilty, even of things that she has no control over.
Abuse occurs when a husband demands complete control over his wife's activities. Some women are not allowed to have friends, go out for coffee, go back to school, or even work outside the home. Others are alienated from their family members and isolated from society. The husband may seek to control what the wife wears, how she cuts her hair, or even when she can go so sleep. The wife's finances are tightly controlled and she is totally dependent on her husband for everything. She is made to believe that without her husband she would be lost and useless. These are all ploys to keep the wife bound to the abusive husband and to prevent her from seeking freedom from his control.
Why are some men abusive?
The reasons why a man might be abusive with his wife are as varied as are the forms of abuse. Some men grew up in abusive homes and saw their father abuse their mother. It is "normal" to blow up and take out their anger on another person, usually the person closest to them.
Some husbands have not learned to express their frustrations and anger in constructive ways and they lack self control. It is believed that some individuals lack the necessary development of impulse control centers in the brain, but this is no excuse.
Men who feel inferior and insecure may use control and abuse to feel "bigger". The more they belittle their wife, the "bigger" and more important they feel.
Alcohol and drugs play an important role in many abusive relationships, because when under the influence of these drugs, impulse control and inhibitions are gone, and the person doesn't have control over their own actions.
Abuse can be dealt with and men can learn new coping skills when they feel angry and frustrated. There are support groups for abusers where they can hear from others who have "been there" and learn from each other. Individual therapy can be useful for a man to explore the reasons for his anger and his need to control. Couples therapy is helpful as couples learn to communicate in positive ways and express their feelings and needs without hurting each other.
No woman should be hurt by the man who promised to love her, but many women stay with the abuser out of fear or retaliation, fear of being alone and fear of the unknown. They may continue to hope that their husband will change and that they can bring about a change if they are a perfect wife.
Abuse does not go away on its own and must be addressed, or it will get worse. There are many shelters and organizations for women to turn to when they realize that they have to get out of the abusive relationship. Friends and family can be a big support for the abused woman, offering to help her with a temporary place to live, child care, transportation and other needs, until she can fend for herself.