Last week we discussed how money (or lack of access to it) 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 he tells her that he will stop the abuse. 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.
This is called the cycle of violence. Each part of the cycle is equally controlling. This cycle repeats itself throughout the course of the relationship and is also part of why people stay in an abusive relationship for so long.
The three phases are as follows:
Tension Building--After a period of calm, the relationship starts to take on a different feel. Tensions increase.
The actual abuse--Emotional, physical, and/or financial abuse takes place.
Honeymoon--After a period of abuse, the abuser does what it takes to make sure the victim stays in the relationship. He gives her hope.
The time frame of the cycle can be from just a short amount of time (a few hours) to a long time (over a year), depending on the relationship.
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, we’ve done our job.
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.