Why women stay in abusive relationships...

United States
April 17, 2007 9:14am CST
The question, “Why do women stay in a violent relationship?” is often answered by the victim being blamed. Victims of abuse and battering often hear statements like: “you must like it or you would leave.” or “you’re just one of many women who love too much.” or “you must need to be treated badly.” or “you must really have low self-esteem.” But the truth is that no one wants to be or enjoys being abused or battered. Their emotional state or self-image does not cause them to want to be in a violent relationship. A woman’s reasons for staying in a violent relationship are more complex. Making statements about her strength of character does not explain why she stays. It can be dangerous for a woman to leave her abuser. More problems can be caused for the woman if her abuser is in control of all of the economic and social status of their relationship. Leaving could mean she will live in fear for her life, the loss of custody of her children or loss of financial support. She may even be afraid of harassment at work. While there is no profile for the “typical woman” who will be abused or battered, there is documentation on what generally happens once the violence begins. Abused and battered women will experience embarrassment, isolation and shame. She may not leave the violent relationship immediately because of the following reasons: She realistically fears that the violence will escalate and may become fatal if she tries to leave. She may not have the much-needed support of her family and friends if she leaves. She knows how difficult it will be to be a single parent with reduced financial support. She may still be experiencing good times, love and hope mixed in with the manipulation, intimidation and fear. She may not know where to get help or have access to a safe place and support. Some women may believe that getting a divorce is not a viable alternative. Many women have been taught and believe that a single parent family is unacceptable and that a violent father is better than no father. Many women have been taught that they are responsible for making their marriage work. Many women believe that a failed marriage means that they have failed as a woman. Many women were taught that their identity and worth is dependant on her getting and keeping a man in her life. Being isolated by a jealous or possessive abuser may cause a woman to lose touch with her family and friends. She may have even isolated herself to hide the signs of being abused or battered from the outside world. Isolation may have contributed to her sense that there is nowhere for her turn. A woman may rationalize the violent behavior by blaming alcohol or drug abuse, problems at work, stress, unemployment or anything else that comes to mind. A woman is rarely abused or battered all of the time. There may be periods of non-violence. During the non-violent phase her abuser may fulfill her dreams of romantic love. She may be lulled into believing her abuser is basically a good man. She may believe that she should hold on to her “good man”, reinforcing her decision to stay in the relationship. She may believe that her abuser is basically good until he lets off steam because something bad happened to him. Do you see yourself using any of the above rationalizations? If you do, do you really want to live the rest of your life in fear of the next violent outburst? The violent circle won’t change. Make plans to get out and stay out. Do it now before you end up dead. I know how hard it can be though to leave, I have been there. It was too difficult to escape. When I finally did, he ended up committing suicide. It seems that I was the cause because I didn't stay and take the abuse, but I realize, no one deserves that. Tell me your experiences with abuse.
2 responses
@mizrak07 (557)
• Philippines
17 Apr 07
Women who stay in abusive relationships have one thing in common - they are weak. This weakness results to emotional turmoil that prevents them from leaving thus allowing the abuse to continue. Aside from the fact that they may truly love the abusive partner, these women are oftentimes confused between being loved and being controlled. In cases where women realize that they are in an abusive relationship they also fear to leave because of threats from the partner, and for fear that nobody will believe if they get out with the story. Abusive partners also for some reason have this special talent on making promises, which makes the women feel that they could actually change their partners' negative behavior and the abuse will finally stop, which sadly does not. Financial stability is another factor, women find it difficult to leave because they cannot support themselves without their partners.
@evlo173 (435)
• United States
17 Apr 07
They stay because they married while in their late teens and early 20's and they are often poor and have no career. My mom was abused because she married when she was 18 and was poor and had no career. She stayed, to take care of the children.