A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Why Does the Victim Stay?

Why do women so often accept violence as a normal part of relationships? Why do we choose to stay? Many shake their heads in bewilderment as to why someone would choose to stay in such a relationship after her face has been disfigured or her body bruised and broken.  Even that battered woman herself may wonder why she finds it so impossible to break away. This is because the dynamics of domestic violence are so complex that it is difficult for most people to understand. Many of the common explanations as to why victims stay are as follows:

Some victims choose to stay with their batterers for fear that leaving would further enrage their partners. One day while my ex was out, I packed bags and hid them in the closet, planning to leave later that night when he was fast asleep.  It was almost as if he knew for, as soon as he returned home, he went to the closet and found my bags. Then and there he threatened to kill me if I ever left, and once I did gather the courage to go, I found myself always looking over my shoulder, always ready to run.  It was a dreadful way to live.  Fear was eating me alive. 

“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.”

- Bill Watterson -

Some victims remain in abusive relationships because they are in denial of their situation. The victim chooses to hide the truth from herself and others. They may feel shame about the abuse, as though it were their fault. Victims are often blamed and frequently blame themselves. Denial is a coping mechanism that gives the victim time to adjust to distressing situations. In this case, it is an act of self-betrayal that lulls its victim into a false security because it enables the abuser to continue to feel justified in continuing their destructive behavior and allows the victim to continue to believe that they can change the situation and can in some way control the abuse and stop it.

Many victims dependent on their abuser for financial support. Abusers have cut off access to cash or bank accounts, and the victims have not been allowed to work outside of the home. Hence, the victim just doesn't  have enough money to support themselves - a fear that often gets worse if they have children, and statistics show that most abused women have at least one minor child.

Many women have been conditioned to believe making the marriage or relationship work is their responsibility.  Admitting that their relationship has failed would be likened to admitting that they have failed as a woman. Their mom may have been in an abused woman, but stayed in it because that was what women 'are supposed' to do.  Society/culture  has taught these women that their worth is measured by their ability to get and keep a man. 

Other reasons may include:

The fear of being alone, that she cannot take care of a home and  her children by herself. 

The fear of his suicide.  He says he will kill himself if she leaves.  I went through this one with an old abusive boyfriend.  He'd call me every night and leave threats.  One day I had all I could take and told him to 'go ahead'.  Needless to say, that was the last phone call I ever received, and two months later I saw him out with his new girlfriend.  (Poor thing doesn't know what she is in for was my first thought).  Seriously, though, if someone keeps calling and threatening to kill themselves if you don't go back with them, it is a tactic they are using to get you back. True suicides just don't threaten like that.

Religious pressure to keep the family together. Some women feel pressure from their faith that it is their duty to honor their commitment t and stay in the abusive relationship. Leaving or getting divorced  may be against their religious beliefs 

Wanting a father for the children. Domestic violence is a generational issue. Violence is a learned behavior, and as a result, many children who grew up watching such behaviors are doomed  to repeat the behavior as spouses and parents. Even if the violence is repeated, the psychological effects can stay with one for a lifetime.

She loves him, and he is often quite  loving to her when he’s not being abusive. This gives her hope that one day the violence will end. Bear in mind, though, that the ending of the violence doesn't always mean he stops his abuse.  Indeed, some cases of  domestic violence can only end in death.

1 comment:

  1. EVery point you mentioned describes my first marriage. Only after I moved out did he agree to counseling. Lucky me, I started going before him and figured out that I had never learned to argue or debate - simple thing, but I missed that in my growing up. I thought if a man loved me, he could/would read my mine and give me what I wanted/needed. I certainly thought we would never quarrel - oh, maybe a lovers' spat (like you'd see on tv or in movies) but nothing serious. With just a bit of new found knowledge and strength I was able to say to that crazy SOB things that I should have said the first few weeks we were married. And when I found my voice, he couldn't handle the strong woman I was becoming and he agreed to divorce so we could get on with our lives. Note: It was not as simple as I make it seem, it took time. It also took time for me to reach that "ah ha" moment you get to when something in you says THAT'S IT. Now here I am 27 years later still alive and learning, occassionaly sorry about the wasted time with what's his name, but I'm still alive. P.S. Realizing we divorced over religious reasons - He thought he was god, for a while so did I. And the day (in front of witnesses) when I calmly and cooly told him "Don't think of it as a divorce, think of it as a mercy killing" were a couple of milestones for me (besides the day I actually took my one suitcase and child and left thinking this is all I may be getting from this marriage...) Didn't mean to rattle on, you just reminded me of my past. Also, I've been married over 20 years to a nice guy - I should tell you my first husband was truly nuts. (Yes, sometimes we get involved with mental cases that we never knew about and we aren't equipped to deal with this - always keep your family and friends NEVER take up with someone who wants it to be JUST THE TWO OF US. Sure you don't want everyone there every minute, but you do want your loved ones to know you are (or aren't) safe.