Last week we discussed how money (or lack of access to) can keep victims in an abusive relationship longer than they would want to be. For part 5 of this series I’d like to focus on something that many family and friends of abused women have trouble understanding.
Many women are in love with their abuser. This is difficult for friends and family members to grasp, but she remembers the good times and wants them to return. She hopes he’ll change back into the man she fell in love with. She may be willing to forgive his behavior, if she thinks there is hope for peace.
Often the abuser is manipulative. He tells her that he will stop the abuse and she holds onto this hope. He tells her that he will change. He may have ‘beaten’ her down so much; she feels only he will ‘love’ her.
She hates the abuse, but he isn’t always abusive. There are good periods in between the bad. Promises are made and broken. If married, she remembers the wedding vows: for better or for worse. She is his wife, she promised.
How do we help a woman when love is blinding her? We need to build back up her self-esteem; teach her self-respect. Guide her to an organization where she can become educated. Let her know that it’s okay if she still loves him, but it’s not okay that he abuses her.
Remember, if we can help just one woman, then we’ve done our job.