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.
Cultural—Domestic violence can be considered a grey area. 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 community issue.
Family and personal belief system—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. When women will 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.
Medical field—As discussed in a previous part of this series, mental health professional can give false hope to a woman in an abusive relationship. The counselor may try to persuade the woman to stay while the abuser is getting treatment. Doctors and emergency room personnel treating an abused woman can’t notify the police. So, even the medical field can lead to a woman staying longer.
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 small. Women also have an uphill battle when fighting for full custody of their children because abuse is hard to prove.
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 victim, we’ve done our job.
Have a great week!