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Jeff 05-23-2006 11:06 PM

Posted on behalf of a victim of domestic violence:

The most common question associated with abused women who stay in abusive relationships, is the "why" factor. Why does an abused woman stay with her abuser?

There's no common denominator to this complicated equation, no one can multiply the variants and come up with a conclusive square either. The "why" in the matter is dependent only to the "who" the situation involves.

Abused women, abuse happens to women of different ages, different races, different backgrounds, economical class and seems to be alive and well in every little nook and cranny of the world. It doesn't happen to "women who deserve it" or "those who ask for it". Who deserves to live with fear everyday or constant emotional and physical pain, do you? Of course no one deserves to live in these conditions but they do and children do too.

Even though, the problem is the same, the conditions aren't and neither are the reasons to stay. I speak from some experience, I'm a survivor of a very abusive relationship and as crazy as it sounds, I've been held at gunpoint before. At this moment of my life, to me that sounds crazy and I wouldn't know how to relate to that if I hadn't experienced it.

The best way I can explain this is to compare it with a police officer or the job of an emergency medical technician. Both professions deal with some danger and traumatic situations. These professionals are just that, professionals who have learned to sort of desensitize themselves and to look at the daily tasks they do as simply a job.

They become accustomed to the gore of the daily aspects of "work", but they still hold onto some of the trauma, they hide it.

The same goes for an abuser and an abused woman. The events are very traumatic but when one feels trapped, they know the dangers but they desensitize themselves just enough to deal with it. When things go terribly wrong they search for help.
Woman stay because of the:

* Children
* Lack of money
* Lack of education
* Lack of transportation
* Lack of a vision for the future
* Lack of a home
* Lack of family or support
* Out of fear
* To protect other members of the household
* Some, just because they love their abuser...he'll change.

In relation with my own seven year bout with abuse, I too stayed for my child and because I though my husband would one day change. I realize now, that those were some truly foolish thoughts but not at the time. Abuse is usually not just physical, it's also verbally used. Abusers frighten their victims with big words to make them feel powerful and to keep that person under control.

Domestic violence is still on the rise, women, children and entire families suffer the physical and mental in this country everyday! If you want to help stop domestic violence, look for ways you can deploy a helping hand. If you own a business, display flyers, pamphlets or cards with telephone numbers to abuse shelters. If you don't have a place to display them, when you go out to eat, when you get gas in your car or go through the drive-thru restaurant ask to drop off some information for their customers. Either way, what ever you do, know that you could be saving the lives of hundreds or thousands of women's lives and sparing yet another child to be touched by the fate of domestic violence.

Denisem 05-24-2006 10:35 AM

After 18 years of abuse I am out. This is a new life for me...I should be happy....I should be singing and dancing. I should be ...but I am not. I still feel he is the winner. He will have this power over my thoughts until I decide to change it. I have been in counseling for 8 months and it is helping.

I stayed for all the reasons Jeff had listed….kids, money, and lack of support from family. My mother told me once that I should try not to make him angry.

The police finally removed him and he has never returned to the house.
I still find myself wondering what he would do when I am making decisions for myself.

Someday I will be free. I know I will be divorced soon and I still feel very married.

2hopefull 05-24-2006 11:12 AM

I too was in, actually with our legal system am still in the abusive relationship. We are told that mental abuse is not acceptable and to leave because it is usually a precurser of physical. well the problem is that one doesn't have witnesses because of the shame, and the abuser is now quite educated to ensure that isolation occurs. I'm described as smart etc but guess what I let it happened - there is a child, I made a vow and I didn't want more people to be affected because of my lack of judgement. However, he is now outright lying via his lawyer, manipulating my daughter - to the point of tears and the legal system continues to serve him. People ask why we don't leave - because it's worse after you leave, there is no protection until after something final happens. I know with me I just want some protection mentally for my child but I can't stop him from seeing her because he's spouting off about his rights.

Grace 05-24-2006 01:41 PM

There are a lot of myths that surround domestic abuse - some say that if a victim is really being abused then s/he would leave -, it is not that simple. Any survivor will know that. Others myths include that abuse only occurs in poor families. NO ONE deserves to be abused, and NO ONE is immune to it. It can happen to anyone in any circumstance.
Here are some myths:

MYTH: Only a small percentage of women are subjected to domestic abuse.

FACT: It is impossible to tell exactly how many women are subjected to violence, because of the private nature of domestic abuse and the shame and embarrassment that inhibits many victims from talking about the issue. A number of studies ranging from women using hospital services to women in the church suggest that from one in three to one in five women are likely to experience violence in intimate relationships (Conrade 1992, Roberts, 1993, White 1991).

MYTH: Domestic abuse only happens within poor or working class families.

FACT: Domestic abuse occurs across all socio-economic groups. This myth developed because people on low incomes are more likely to come to the attention of official agencies. Those families with access to more resources are sometimes better able to hide the violence.

MYTH: The abuser/offender is not a loving partner.

FACT: There is a cycle of violence in abusive relationships, with five phases ~ build-up phase, stand-over phase, remorse phase, pursuit/buy-back phase, and honeymoon phase. During the "buy back" and "honeymoon phases" of this cycle the offender can be a loving and attentive partner. Many violent men are described by their partner as Jekyll and Hyde characters capable of being charming and caring but also capable of violence and abuse.

MYTH: Violent men cannot control their violence.

FACT: Violent men often believe that this is true. It is the belief in this myth which enables offenders to continue to avoid taking responsibility for their behaviour. The large majority of offenders who beat their partners control their violence with others, such as friends or work colleagues, where there is no perceived right to dominate and control. Offenders are also able to control the way in which they abuse, including limiting physical assault to certain, often hidden, parts of the body and by limiting the amount of damage inflicted. Violence is also frequently pre-meditated although it may seem to the survivor to happen out of the blue.

MYTH: Violent men are mentally ill or have psychopathic personalities.

FACT: Clinical studies of men who abuse their partners do not support this view. The vast majority of violent men are not suffering mental illness and could not be described as psychopaths. Most offenders present as ordinary respectable men who are very much in control. They are represented in all occupations and social classes and the violence usually manifests itself only within their relationships with their female partner and children.

MYTH: Women enjoy being abused.

FACT: This myth developed from the observation that many women remain in violent relationships despite constant abuse. There are many reasons why abused women stay with their violent partners. Many women are too afraid to leave violent relationships. Research confirms that leaving a relationship is a dangerous time for a woman and that from half, to five out of seven, of the women killed by their spouse were separated or were in the process of separating at the time of their death (Easteal 1993, Keys Young 1993, Wallace 1986)

MYTH: A woman could always leave if she really wanted to.

FACT: Approximately one-third of the women who responded to a Domestic Violence Phone-In in 1983, stated that they stayed in a violent relationship because they were afraid of what their already violent partner might do if they were to leave. Abused women are usually constrained from leaving home by a number of factors including:

Fear or reprisals:
Threats of injury and actual violence to themselves or their children if they choose to separate prevents a great number of women from leaving violent relationships.

Social isolation:
Abused women are often at home with dependent children. Their partners may deliberately isolate them from friends, family and the wider community. Many survivors choose to hide at home because of their sense of shame of visible injuries, or their belief that the violence is their fault. As a result of their isolation, abused women often have no one to turn to and are unaware of available services.

Financial dependence:
Women generally do not have equal access to the same earning capacity as men. To leave their partner condemns many women and their children to a substantial decline in their standard of living.

Social stigma:
Women often experience social pressure not to separate and deprive their children of a father.

Emotional dependence:
Like women in non-violent relationships, abused women are generally committed to their relationship, love their partner and hope for a change in the relationship. Some abused women are fearful that their partner will not cope with a separation. .

Low self-esteem:
Many survivors, after years of physical and/or verbal abuse, have lost their self confidence and doubt their ability to cope on their own.

privateone 05-24-2006 03:05 PM

No one should ever live in fear or in these conditions and for these reasons.:mad:

It sickens me to think about these people and how they treat their spouses and children. My heart goes out to all of you

Lindsay 05-24-2006 04:06 PM

Thanks for that excellent post Grace. I think about all the women I interact with every day, and it really makes me wonder if any of them, or how many of them, are going through this terrible experience.

Grace 05-24-2006 06:12 PM

It's hard to explain Lindsay it's kind of like a club, we know who we are but most don't want to talk about it for fear of shame and not being believed. So most likely there are women you know that are suffering in silence. As well as abusers that you may know and would never believe they could be capable of being abusive.

Whatever form violence takes, talking about it is critical. Fear, shame or embarrassment can keep women isolated in the grip of violence. It is therefore vital to break the wall of silence, talk about violence and seek help. This applies equally to victims, abusers and witnesses.

If someone talks to you about domestic violence in their relationship, it is important to listen without judgment and realize that considerable courage is required to talk about it, in the face of embarrassment, shame and fear. Regaining control over one’s life is not an easy thing to do. Each person proceeds at their own rate, and this should be respected.

Jeff 05-24-2006 06:39 PM

Thanks for the wonderful post Grace! I'm sure that wasn't easy to write.


Originally Posted by Grace
MYTH: The abuser/offender is not a loving partner.

FACT: There is a cycle of violence in abusive relationships, with five phases ~ build-up phase, stand-over phase, remorse phase, pursuit/buy-back phase, and honeymoon phase. During the "buy back" and "honeymoon phases" of this cycle the offender can be a loving and attentive partner. Many violent men are described by their partner as Jekyll and Hyde characters capable of being charming and caring but also capable of violence and abuse.

Perhaps you could go into this in more detail. I really only know about 3 phases:

1. Tension building phase. During this phase, basically the abuser wears down the victim - through intimidation and denigration. E.g. call the victim names and demean the victim, make threats to kill, swear, yell, smash objects, pound fist, etc.

2. Acute batting phase. During this phase, the actual physical violence occurs.

3. Caring / loving phase. During this phase, apologies, flowers, promises to reform, etc.

logicalvelocity 05-24-2006 09:00 PM

I came across this handbook called:

Do you know a woman who is being abused?

A legal rights handbook

Grace 05-24-2006 09:37 PM


Originally Posted by Jeff
Thanks for the wonderful post Grace! I'm sure that wasn't easy to write..

After many years of feeling silenced I love my new found voice. And for those that are willing to listen I am thankful for it. Especially for those that don't judge me.

Actually your 3 stages is easier to understand, you can lump my remorse/pursuit/buy-back phase/honeymoon phase into your #3.

I'm curious to know if you have represented abused women in your practice. I suspect an abused women may feel more comfortable taking to a female lawyer. I certainly felt more comfortable with my female lawyer and we have since built a lasting friendship outside of the litigation. Although my Lead lawyer is male, and has an excellent reputation, he is not known for his "hand holding skills" ;) . Hope to hear back from other members if having a male/female lawyer made a difference to them.

LV: As always thanks for that great link. You are more powerful than Google.

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