Women at Risk: The Hazards of a Bad Relationship
Abusive men, and women (physical or mental), are all about control and frequently evolve from abusive homes themselves. Police desire to help abused women, but often even after a complaint has been filed, women will not pursue the charges out of fear. Feeling helpless, they are often terrified, brain-washed and really believe that they have nowhere to go. It is not uncommon for an abuser to be very charismatic and after beating his victim return home the following day with flowers showing great affection to his victim. Unfortunately, the victim tends to believe the transparent words “I’ll never do it again!”
One of the most frustrating things for family and friends outside a battering relationship is trying to understand why the abused person doesn’t just leave. It is important to remember that extreme emotional abuse is always present in domestic violence situations. Violence takes place in many forms, is unpredictable and can happen all of the time or just once in a while. Violence is criminal including physical and sexual assault. It is paramount to remember that physical violence, even among family members, is wrong and against the law.
Some of the reasons partners stay in domestic violence situations are:
1. Economic dependence.
2. Fear of greater physical danger or danger for children.
3. Fear of being hunted down and suffering worse beatings.
4. Survival. Fear that the abuser will kill.
5. Fear of emotional damage to children.
6. Fear of losing custody of children.
7. Lack of alternative housing.
8. Lack of job skills.
9. Social isolation resulting in lack of support from family and friends.
10. Social isolation resulting in lack of information about her alternatives and support systems.
11. Lack of understanding from family and friends, police, ministers.
12. Negative response from community, police, courts, social workers.
13. Fear of involvement in the court process.
14. Fear of the unknown, chronic anxiety, and/or depression.
15. Acceptable violence. Living with constant abuse numbs the victim so that they are unable to recognize that they are involved in a set pattern.
16. Ties to the community. The children would have to leave their school, and family would have to leave friends and neighbors.
17. Ties to home and belongings.
18. Family pressure.
21. Love. Often an abuser is quite loveable and loyal when he is not being abusive.
22. Shame and humiliation. “I don’t want anyone else to know.”
23. Guilt. They believe the abuse is caused by some inadequacy of their own.
24. Demolished self-esteem.
25. Lack of emotional support.
The following is a bill of rights for women in abusive relationships:
1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
4. I have the right to change my mind.
5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or it violates my values.
8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
13. I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid.”
14. I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
20. I have the right to make friends.
21. I have the right to change and grow.
22. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
23. I have the right to be happy.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused or neglected. Even if the children are not physically harmed, they are likely to have serious emotional and behavioral problems and scars.
Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when the abused person leaves them – the abuse may get worse. If you are in an abusive situation, take special precautions when you leave. Develop a safety plan.