WHY SHE STAYS
Guilt: Women often automatically accept blame for
their own victimization. Many women will say "I asked for it", or "I provoked
him". Society, also, typically holds women responsible for the emotional well-being
of the family.
Emotional Dependence: She may have learned
to rely on him for everything, giving her no experience with independent decision making.
She may have low-self-esteem, doubts she can meet her children's needs. She may fear the legal system and feel
that laws cannot help her. This is especially true if she is an immigrant with no legal papers to stay within the United States.
Learned Behavior: If she came from a home where women
were not respected, then, she accepts her situation as normal.
Traditional Value System: She readily accepts
the idea that "a woman's place" is in the home. This is based on the belief that
the man should always be the head of the household; therefore, she may want to protect the image of her husband and family. Religious and cultural beliefs may also keep her in her marriage. She stays because of the children, may feel that any father is better than no father, or the social stigma
of divorce may also be a factor.
Depression: Many women internalize their anger and may
be evidenced as depression. Depression may make her feel as though she has no
energy (either emotional or physical) to battle with it or stand up for herself. She may even feel that if she reacts at all
she will kill him and has become afraid of herself as well.
Isolation: The mate frequently keeps her from
having friends, because they will reinforce her self-worth. She may also be unaware
of her options.
Fear: Typically, battered women experience
constant agitation and anxiety that border on panic. The batterer often threatens
to kill her, her children or her family members.
Embarrassment or Shame: For having allowed someone
else to treat her that way or because she believes she made him do it; because she is not good enough or she may have done
something wrong to have angered him.
Love: The victim may hope for a change
in the abusive behavior. The victim may think she can help him quit battering, or may believe he is sick. The only change she wants is the relationship is not to be abused.
(Click Here for a more indepth discussion on Addictive Love)
Learned Helplessness: Once
it is believed that we have no control over what happens to us, it is difficult to believe we can ever again. This concept is important in understanding why battered women do not attempt to free themselves from a
battering relationship. She becomes passive, compliant and submissive. She does not realize she has the right not to be abused. (Click Here for an indepth discussion on "Learned Helplessness Of Abused Women")
Victimization Process: Often, a woman has
no idea during courtship that the man will batter. The first reaction is disbelief,
shock, hurt and anger. He may promise never to do it again. She loves him and wants to believe him. It continues because
rarely does battering end after only one violent episode. The woman becomes powerless,
without hope. She has no self-confidence; paranoia may develop. She believes law enforcement and judicial officers will not take her seriously. Any attempts to consult authorities are seen as a threat and she fears she will be hurt for her attempts. She becomes physically and emotionally paralyzed.
She accepts abuse as a part of her life; she has given up.
WHY SHE LEAVES
Fear: Her anxiety may rise to a level that may mobilize her into action if she thinks another beating episode
may be fatal.
Motherly Instinct: When the batterer
has begun to outwardly abuse the children, either sexually or physically this may give her the emotional energy to act. If the children have started to also abuse her, she realizes she must remove them
from the abusive situation sooner rather than later. She may also come to the
realization that if the children are abused, someone may report this to the authorities and she may have to leave in order
to keep her children.
Support: A friend or family member
offering help may give her courage to leave. Even hearing of the help of a shelter
on the radio may give her the social approval she needs as well as giving her an option.
Domestic Violence Definitions
Battering: Repeated use of physical and emotional abuse to dominate or control
another. This control is in the form of verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse;
which goes beyond one's safe place. This control can manifest itself in domestic
violence, child abuse, racism, prejudice of any alternative like style, unethical and manipulative communication or other
forms of abuse.
Denial: People learn to distance themselves from intense pain in whatever way they can, thus crazy behaviors and/or
denial are almost always responses of self-protection against abuse. This protection
often keeps those who might question or help distance.