Domestic Violence; The Hidden Secret

There is a hidden secret in homes all across America that most people chose to ignore. This is my place to share my thoughts, views and occassional rants about the issue of domestic violence. It is my hope that this blog will prove to be an educational tool that will shatter the myths and misconceptions surrounding the issue, raise awareness and motivate all members of society to take a stand against violence against women.

Location: New York, United States

Monday, July 17, 2006

So Why Stay?

So many people ask time and time again, "if she's being abused, why does she stay?" There are so many reasons why someone might stay in the situation and unless someone's been in the situation, they will have a hard time understanding these reasons.

First of all, in order to understand the reasons why someone might stay, we must understand the dynamics of the relationship and the things that go on way before the victim might even begin to contemplate leaving. Abusive relationships start out just as any other relationship does. Most people think they'd get out at the first sign of abuse. Well, it isn't that easy. The behavior occurs slowly and is extremely calculated. I mean lets' talk turkey here... if you went out on your first date and your date hauled off and punched you in the face, what are the chances of date number two taking place? Slim and none and slim just left town in the words of an old boss of mine.

Domestic violence is a pattern of cohersive behavior based on power and control. Mainly the abusive partner exerting power and control over their partner. This starts out slowly and may be perceived as an over protective or jealous partner. Frequently, the abuser will start to isolate the victim from their friends and family. This can happen slowly by the abuser finding fault with these people and slowly cutting off contact. They can be extremely charming and appear to want to take care of their partner and convince them to stop working so they can take care of them. Now, trust me, I'd love to stop working as much as the next person and can see how this can be a nice proposition especially if you have children to care for at home. However, the abuser does this in order to gain power and control over their partner. Take away their support systems such as friends/family, access to financial resources; the less likely they are to leave the relationship.

In the meantime there's the subtle comments, put downs and insults. Slowly chipping away at the victims self confidence. It's not uncommon for them to play mind games with the victim by doing childish things such as hiding car keys, clothing ,etc then trying to convince the victim they didn't do anything. Yeah, good idea buddy, make her think she's crazy. Very, very manipulative these abusers are.

Then one day comes the first incident of physical violence. Most times the first incident will not be to extreme. This is not to say that it's okay, just stating that it won't be all that brutal. A kick, a shove, something of that nature. Then the I'm sorry's come combined with blaming the victim for his behavior "had you not been on the phone w/your sister, I wouldn't have hit you" type of thing. Oh, lets not forget the endless promises of never doing this again.

Things settle down for a while and then will begin to escalate again. The victim will notice and increase in tension in the home and will try their hardest to keep the abuser calm. Sadly, there isn't anything they can do to stop this behavior as they are not the cause of it. Then another incident will happen, followed by the apologies and promises. Now, imagine yourself in a commited relationship with someone you love and claims to love you. Not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that this person is willingly harming you, is it? You'd want to try and believe that they'll stop. In addition to this, you've now spent x amount of time being belittled and are now starting to believe that you are stupid, worthless, crazy and all the other things your abuser has told you about yourself.

Lets add in threats to harm or kill you, take your children away from you and quite possibly harm or kill your family if you leave. Add this to you not having any access to financial resources whether you're employed or not. If you're employed, your partner takes all of your money and only gives you an "allowance" for what they see fit. They are the sole means of financial support for your children. What do you do? You've been out of work for years now and don't even have a car of your own to use if you do leave. You don't have any money to speak of so where are you going to go? Oh yes, and lets not forget the very real threats of physical harm or death to you and your family if you leave. Do you have an easy answer? How quickly can you now say you'd be out of there in a heartbeat? I defy you to say you wouldn't think twice about it.

My fiance once asked me why these women stay, it makes no sense to him. How can one person be so afraid of their partner? Well, I've given you the domestic violence "light" version above. The brutal beatings and emotional torture that victims endure on a daily basis is almost impossible for most people to wrap their minds around. So, I told him to imagine that he's brutally beaten with fists, objects whatever is around. If he goes out he must account for his every minute. If he's at a store he had better produce the sales receipt to confirm when he left the store, he better have the exact change in his pocket upon his return. He has no contact with any family and has not friends to speak of because he's been cut off from them. All of this is done by the person that has claimed to love him. Crazy, right? Now, consider all these things that have already been done to him and add in an evening of ranting and raving and having a loaded gun held to his head while being told he'll be dead if he leaves. Now how easy is it for you? "Holy crap", he responded "now I see what you're talking about". Finally, he got it. If this person is capable of doing all of these horrible things, it's not too far fetched to believe they'd follow through on their threat.

There's so much more to this story but I'll go into it another day. All I ask is to imagine yourselves in a victims shoes for one day, then tell me how easy it is for you to say you'd be out of there at the first sign of anything.


Blogger Librarian said...

I think it's even more complicated than you describe. There's a book called "The Illusion of Love" by David Celani that explains the reasons better than I could. This book is on amazon and at most libraries. I really recommend it.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Home Sweet Home said...

When my ex was in a bad mood when he came home, he used to park behind my vehicle so that it couldn't be moved. Considering that the driveway was a three car driveway, that should give you an idea. For some reason though he stopped that after the night that I left in his vehicle! :)

9:30 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Oh, it's way more complicated than I described. I'd love to get into the issue in its entirety however I'd need about 2 days locked in my home doing nothing but typing.

In regards to blocking the car so the victim can't leave, I've also seen the abuser lay down in front of the only entrance/exit so she can't get out. Really disturbing.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Tery Lynne said...

I wrote an article like this myself, but I called it "Why don't she just leave?" People who are not in abusive relationships, just don't get it.

When a person's life is threatened, their kids are threatened, they don't have jobs, maybe they have too much invested like homes, cars, credit and is not easy.

Getting a "normal" divorce and leaving isn't easy, imagine leaving an abuser that has a gun and a temper that can end your life?

It amazes me that people still ask that same question in today's world, "Why don't she just leave?"

6:11 AM  
Blogger LG said...

It's extremely hard to leave. I'm finding it really difficult right now. My partner has already tried, almost successfully, to end her life and has threatened to do it this weekend when I said I was leaving after she beat me up and threatened to stab me, chop me into pieces and put my remains in the trash. there have been promises of 'trying to stop' and I've been made to feel like I'm giving up if I don't give her another chance. I'm also being blamed for the abuse, if I wasn;t so mean and horrible, apparently, none of this would have happened. I've been cut off from everyone and I'm finding it hard to financially consider leaving. she has the control and my life is at risk... I dont want to be there anymore, but I don;t want to be responsible for her actions if I leave. That's why I'm staying...for now.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Sorry, I've been MIA for a while and I hope that you are doing okay. It sounds like you're in a very difficult situation and if I may offer some guidance, it's best not to let her know you are planning on leaving, it will only place you at greater risk of being harmed. As for her threatening to end her life, it's a means of maintaining the control over the situation and manipulating you into staying. Please consider your own safety and security and realize you are not to blame for any of this. If you feel that she will indeed harm herself, after you have left, contact the police and ask them to check on her because she has made suicidal threats.

If hope I can be of more help if you need.

5:12 PM  

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