Last week we discussed the fifth reason why women stay in abusive relationships. Women who love their abuser stay longer because of the conflicting emotions between loving the abuser, but not the abuse. This week I’d like to discuss how society and preconceived beliefs play a role in why women stay as long as they do.
Cultural—Domestic violence is sometime considered a grey area to people who don’t understand. When does an abuser cross the line so we label the actions ‘abuse’? Is pushing abuse? Put downs? Sometimes women aren’t sure if they are being abused.
The media culture can also fuel this confusion. Some media outlets call domestic violence a ‘domestic disturbance’. It’s not a disturbance—it’s a crime. Calling it anything other than a crime makes it sound like it’s a personal problem and not a societal issue.
I’ve included the Power and Control wheel, taken from The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which describes abuse in great detail.
Family and personal belief system—Some women who are married to their abuser feel guilty about breaking their marriage vows. Women with children can feel guilty about breaking up the household. They may get pressure from loved ones and friends who don’t understand the reality of the abuse at home, especially if they haven’t seen it.
Religion--Sometimes when women seek help from their church or temple, they may receive conflicting advice. Often they are told to stay in the relationship, especially if they are married. I would recommend A Journey through Emotional Abuse: From Bondage to Freedom by Caroline Abbott.
Judicial System—It can be very difficult for a woman to get justice for the crime of abuse. Many charges are dropped (sometimes by the abused) and the sentences tend to be very short.
Women also have an uphill battle when fighting for full custody of their children because abuse is hard to prove. The abuser also continues to abuse through the court system after separation, and often includes major custody battles.
It is nearly impossible to co-parent with an abuser. An excellent book on co-parenting with an abuser is called How to Co-Parent with an Abusive Ex and Keep Your Sanity, written by Julie Boyd Cole.
People suffering from domestic violence are often at a disadvantage because of these barriers. We can help. We can guide abused victims to a domestic violence shelter so they can receive the help, information, and support they need.
Remember, if we can help just one woman, we’ve done our job.
Have a great week!
Please note: If you are in an abusive relationship, please reach out to your local domestic violence organization or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
Men are victims of domestic violence, too. For this series I am focusing on women and why they stay as long as they do.