Friday, April 12, 2024

Why Does She Continue to Stay?

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( 1 in 4 women, will become victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.  There are no justifiable reasons why women stay in abusive relationships, but there are definitely factors to consider.

Disclaimer: every case of domestic violence related incidents are different so the content below is derived from multiple stories of survival and data collected.

One of the reasons that women stay in abusive relationships is because of the familiarity of that relationship.  The victims know their partner and love their partner.  They don’t love the abusive tactics but they are familiar with the person, their community and the day to day dynamics that’s involved in that relationship.  So it’s NOT easy to just walk away from what you’ve known and where you lived for so long.

Another reason is that typically, when a woman leaves the relationship, that becomes the most dangerous time for her or her children.  In these moments, she has taken power and control back from the abuser and that causes the abuser to possibly become more aggressive when he finds her, or she decides to return to the home/relationship, or the abuser’s behavior becomes so toxic that things turn deadly for the survivor.

Remember the definition for domestic violence:

“Domestic violence is violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It may be termed intimate partner violence when committed by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner, and can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. Domestic violence can also involve violence against children, parents, or the elderly. It takes a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive, and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as choking, beating, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include stoning, bride burning, honor killings, and dowry deaths (Wikipedia, 2019).”

Bottom line, it is the use of power and control in a relationship.  It’s not something that can be diagnosed by a physician.  It is learned behavior!  She, the survivor, may also stay in an abusive relationship out fear of losing custody of her children.  Usually, the woman is financially dependent upon her abusive partner and he/she is often threatened with statements such as, “If you leave, I’ll get custody of the kids… judge in their right mind will hand over these kids to you.”  Believing such statements, with no other forms of support systems to help her care for her children, she often stays.  Her mindset is, she’ll rather stay in the relationship to keep the kids with her and/or keep them safe from being harmed by the partner, in the future.

Women stay in abusive relationships for various reasons and it’s not up to us to judge them, or turn our backs on them in times of crisis just because they decide to stay.  Not every woman wants to leave the relationship.  The priority to help women in abusive relationships is to let them maintain power and control in their decision making.  They already have a partner telling them what to do and when to do it.  So don’t be that friend, family member or resource that’s barking orders at them.  Instead, be that support system that they need in that moment and crisis and respect whatever decision they make, even when you don’t agree with it.  Call the national domestic violence hotline (800) 799-7233 for more resources and information specifically for your city, town or state.

Staff Writer; Felicia T. Simpson

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