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Why Do Women Stay in Violent Relationships
What We Need Now is Action.
Why a Person Stays in an Abusive Relationship
Why in earth does anyone stay in a violent relationship? Why do women hang around when they know their husband or boyfriend might injure or even kill them? The question itself is biased as it is blaming the victim for staying in a violent relationship. Why don’t we ask instead why the perpetrator of violence abuses his partner?
In asking why a person stays in an abusive relationship, we are assuming that the person has a choice, which is not always evident for the person suffering the abuse.
During the late 90s I had the opportunity to work with women survivors of rape. The abusers were often known to them, their own husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and other male relatives or friends. Most of the women who came to use our services were women who had sustained sexual abuse for a long time, most shocking even, most of these women had to go back to their homes to face their abusers and the continual violence.
Why Women Stay In An Abusive Relationship ?
One thing that always amazed me during that time, was that most of the women who came to the Rape Crisis Centre never considered getting away from their damaging relationships. It was very frustrating to know that these women that we were trying to help were going back to their houses to be abused psychologically and physically again and that we would see them in a couple of days with new bruises and even deeper psychological scars.
It was very difficult for me to understand what they were really expecting. Most of them did not want to press charges and most of them didn’t want to, or couldn’t leave their abuser. Our main goal at the time was to inform women of their options and help them become survivors rather than victims. It was painful to see how some of those women really believed that somehow they deserved what was happening to them.
In an attempt to understand those women, over the years I have tried to find out what compels them to stay in a violent relationship. The answer is more complex than expected and for me it is still unsatisfactory.
The Cycle Of Domestic Violence
The Cycle Of Domestic Violence
The cycle of domestic violence and abuse includes emotional abuse, isolation, blaming the victim, denying that abuse even occurred, minimizing the effect, using children or pets as means to expand threat if the woman takes action, invoking religious laws and requirements, reducing access to friends or resources, coercion, threats, and intimidation.
About the author of " Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet"
- Ms Cindy Vine
Born in Cape Town but lived in many different countries. Author of the self-help book Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet as well as Stop the world, I need to pee!. Currently working on Boko, a children's story about a child soldier.
Break the cycle of bad, abusive relationships.
Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet cuts out the psycho babble to bring you a down to earth book that everybody can read and relate to. Real people's stories and life experiences have been used to illustrate this fascinating book about how to conquer your fears and break the cycle of bad, abusive relationships.
Many abuse survivors cling to the positive traits in their partners -- like being affectionate and reliable.
An estimated 50 percent of women who leave an abusive relationship return to the relationship an average of five times.
In some cultures battered women are accused of being masochists, women who secretly enjoy being abused and that is why they go from one abusive relationship to another one. They are also accused to bringing on the abuse through their own fault, because they are frigid, over emotional dependent or any other personality trait that might “justify” violence.
The reality about staying in a violent Relationship:
Some of the reasons why people stay in violent relationships include fear of greater physical danger to herself and her close relatives if they try to leave. Victims of domestic abuse are terrified of suffering a worse beating than before if they leave and are found. Some even fear that their partners will kill them. But fear also extends beyond physical pain. Women also stay for fear of losing the custody of their children or even fear of damaging their children by taking them away from their father.
Some of the practical reasons why women stay in damaging relationships are also economic dependence, the lack of job skills, the lack of a safe place to go to, fear of involvement in police and court processes. In some countries and cultures you can also add negative responses from the family, community, friends, police, authorities and religious institutions. Leaving an abuser would mean for some people the same as living under a witness protection program where they would need to cut any contact with their old life and start all over again.
Some of the emotional reasons why people stay in abusive relationships include fear for their abuser, victims think that their abuser might hurt or kill himself if they leave. Despite their fear of being battered, the victims have certain loyalty to their abusers, they are convinced that it is partly their fault to be abused, and they still love their abusers and have an unfounded optimism that things will get better if only they can be better wives, girlfriends or daughters. There is also a certain amount of denial, the victims think that they are not really that badly off; that there are others worse than them. Some other times people just stay out of shame; they can not face the humiliation of being known as someone who was abused.
The Power of the abuser
There are many different ways that abusers may try to control their partners
What keeps abused people returning to violent relationships?
The answer, perhaps is not in trying to understand the victims and survivors of domestic abuse but understanding the actual power of the abusers. Abusers manage to practice an incredible amount of power –real or pretended- over their victims. Stark identifies domestic abusers' subjugation of their victims, comparing it with what is visited upon kidnap victims and indentured slaves. He calls it "coercive control." He suggests that battered women take real risks by attempting to leave violent relationships: "The risk of severe or fatal injury increases with separation. Almost half the males on death row for domestic homicide killed in retaliation for a wife or lover leaving them”. The sad reality is that leaving a violent relationship might prove to be more dangerous for the victim than staying in.
Why do women stay in abusive relationships?
There Is Hope:
The reasons cited by people who stay in abusive relationships are endless, but there is also hope. Not all victims stay. Not all victims go back to start another relationship that will end again bringing them back to a circle of domestic violence. There are many people who have managed to break the ties, to re-start again, to regain their self confidence and build healthy relationships.
Help Support Victims of Domestic Violence
A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship
Read here some inspiring stories of people who managed to overcome domestic violence.
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A restraining order also referred to as a 209A protective order, is one option to consider in seeking safety from an abuser.
Restraining Orders Eligibility
The law for restraining orders (209A) covers those people who are or have been in any of the following relationships:
- A substantive dating relationship
- Living together in the same household
- Engaged or married
- Have a child together
- Related by blood or marriage
How Does A Judge Decide Whether to Issue the Order?
Under the law, the judge needs to determine:
- If the relationship is covered by the law, and
- If the victim has shown "a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse"