Everyday, thousands of people are victims of domestic violence. There are hundreds of myths about battered men and women. Why do people stay in this type of relationship? Well, there are many reasons. Let’s explore the myths, truths and reasons that people stay in this type of relationship, but before we do that, we need to look at some of the different types of domestic violence to completely understand the answers that we will find.
Destructive Domestic Violence
Destructive domestic violence is when the batterer destroys the personal property of the battered person, or harms or kills their pets.
Physical Domestic Violence
Physical domestic violence is any type of physical act against the victim, including choking, hitting of any kind, grabbing, pinching, pushing, hair pulling, kicking, shoving, slapping or threatening their physical being with any type of weapon.
Emotional Domestic Violence
Emotional domestic violence consists of brainwashing, controlling their freedom, telling them when or where they can or cannot go or what they can do.
Sexual Domestic Violence
This includes forced sexual acts with or without violence, the use of objects and other damaging acts that are against the battered peron’s wishes, or forced sex using the threat of a weapon.
The Battered Person
Battered people are victims of domestic violence over a period of time because the batterer is highly dependent on them for the batterer’s emotional needs and because their presence makes the batterer feel secure. Let’s look at a battered person’s psyche.
· A battered person is often caught up in a roller coaster of emotions that range from love to hate.
· A victim of domestic violence has learned to be submissive to the batterer and often feels powerless.
· Battered people often spend their lives in total isolation.
· A victim of domestic violence is afraid to ask for help, call the police or leave the home because the batterer has threatened harm to them, their children, family, and/or friends.
· A battered person feels trapped in the situation because they are financially dependent on their abuser.
· The battered person could have been a battered child or witnessed domestic violence in their childhood. When this is the case, they may view domestic violence as a normal way of life.
· The battered person often needs to be educated so they are aware of their alternatives and so they can learn to make their own choices and decisions.
· A victim of domestic violence is often embarrassed about the abusive situation in which they live. They feels it reflects badly on their ability to be a good spouse and parent.
Regardless of their actions, a person doesn’t deserve to be battered. What a person does and doesn’t do really has nothing to do with why there is domestic violence. They are battered because they chose a controlling, insecure individual as a partner. Battering is not the fault of the victim; it is the fault of the batterer.
Let’s take a look at the batterer and find out why they are abusive to the person they claim to love.
· They may have been a battered child or witnessed a parent being battered and think domestic violence is normal.
· They doesn’t feel, nor seldom will admit, they have a problem.
· They feel that it’s their right to take their anger and frustration out on their victim by hitting and otherwise abusing them.
· They need to be educated to help break the patterns of domestic violence.
· They can change, but seldom do because they won’t admit to having a problem.
Let’s look at the way domestic violence affects the children. They are the innocent victims.
· Children are frequently abused emotionally or physically by the abuser and, at times, are even abused sexually.
· Children suffer severe emotional and psychological trauma by seeing a parent battered and from hearing and witnessing chaos in the family unit.
· Children who grow up in a household where domestic violence is the norm often find themselves in a battering situation as adults. The trend passes from one generation to the next if the abusive cycle isn’t broken.
The Myths of Domestic Violence
There are a wide range of myths that are believed to be true in domestic violence. Let’s deal with some of them.
Myth: All a battered person has to do is call the authorities in order to deal with domestic violence.
Truth: Often if a battered person calls in the authorities all they do is give the batterer a warning. When they leave the home, the domestic violence escalates. Though police are becoming more educated about battering, the victim is often left to face their abuser alone.
Myth: Battered people enjoy being abused and battered.
Truth: Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nobody likes being in pain, having their body battered until large bruises appear, sporting black eyes for the entire world to see, or living in fear wondering what will set their abuser off the next time. A battered person never knows where, when or why the domestic violence will occur next.
Myth: Domestic violence only occurs in families that are poor, uneducated, in a specific age or ethnic group, or are disadvantaged in some way.
Truth: Domestic violence occurs in all age and ethnic groups, to those of every educational level and in families from every income level. Domestic violence is not limited; battering can, and does, occur every day in a wide variety of households worldwide.
Myth: Battered people bring the domestic violence upon themselves by their actions or words.
Truth: This is a fallacy. Nothing that a person could do could possibly condone any type of abuse or battering. The victim is not to blame. The problem is in the mind of the batterer.
Myth: Batterers abuse their partners because of their deep love for them.
Truth: This statement is ludicrous. The batterer feels they loves their victim, but in fact, they have no conception of what true love is.
Myth: If a person is a good spouse and a good person, they will never be a victim of domestic violence.
Truth: It is often people who give from the heart who are victims of domestic violence. The act of violence has no basis on whether they are good or bad. In reality, they only made a bad judgment when they choose to live with, or marry, the batterer.
Myth: Batterers only abuse their victims when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Truth: This is not true; many batterers use alcohol and drugs as an excuse for battering. In reality thousands of people are battered daily by partners who are not substance abusers. In fact, partners who are substance abusers often batter their partners when they are completely sober and not under the influence of drugs.
Why Do Victims of Domestic Violence Stay?
It’s hard for those who have never been battered or experienced domestic violence to understand why women stay in these types of relationships. People who find themselves the victim of domestic violence have a wide range of reasons why they feel they must stay.
One reason people stay in abusive relationships is because of situational factors.
· A fear of greater physical retaliation or even death if they leave.
· Fear of being hunted down or stalked by the abuser.
· Not knowing how they will financially and emotionally support themselves and their children.
· Fear that their partner will follow through with his threats to kill them or their children.
· Fear that their children will be given to their partner in a custody battle.
· Fear that their children will suffer emotional damage if they split the family unit.
· Because they have no place for their children and themselves to go.
· Lack of education and job skills.
· Negative responses from family members, friends, police, social workers, the courts and the community in general; no support network.
· Fear of the unknown and being involved with the judicial system.
· Fear that no one will believe that their partner commits domestic violence.
· Fear that the batterer will spread lies and rumors about them and charm and manipulate people to believe they are entirely to blame for the situation.
· Because their children’s lives would be disrupted when they have to change schools and leave their friends.
· Having to leave their family and friends behind and never contact them again in case the batterer is able to find the victim through them.
· Being unable to understand that domestic violence is a pattern that will never end and that will probably escalate with time.
· Pressure from family and friends.
· Fear of social isolation.
· Feat that their abuser will “get them” just as the abuser has threatened to do if they ever leaves. The abuser may phone their place of employment, cause them to lose their job, falsely report them to welfare and do other things to cause them to fail so they have to return to the home.
· Because they can’t access the proper domestic violence resources because they are disabled, or cannot speak fluent English.
· Because they feel they need time to plan their escape to allow them and their children to be safe when they leave.
Many people stay in a relationship where there is domestic violence because of emotional factors.
Loyalty: The battered person feels it is their duty to stay because their partner has a psychological illness.
Pity: The victim feels pity for their partner and thinks that their partner won’t be able to cope without them.
Insecurity: The victim is afraid of being on their own and isn’t sure that they can cope with their children’s emotional and financial needs.
Fear: They are afraid the batterer will kill someone because he’s threatened to do so.
Hope: They hope that if they stay things will get better and the abuser will change.
Love: They love the batterer and the batterer is very kind and affectionate between episodes of domestic violence.
Denial: Denying that the situation is out of control and that the domestic violence is escalating.
Shame: They are shamed and humiliated by the domestic abuse and afraid that others will find out about it.
Guilt: The battered person feels they are to blame for the domestic violence, just as the batterer has told them.
Self Esteem: All battered people have very low self esteem and view themselves as worthless. They also feel they are victims of domestic violence because they don’t measure up to the batterer’s expectations.
Exhaustion: They don’t have the energy to leave because they are exhausted from the physical and emotional abuse that they suffer.
Whether we realize it or not, certain beliefs are instilled in us from childhood and as we grow into adults. Beliefs play a huge role in why people stay in abusive relationships.
Parenting: The battered person believes that having a batterer for a parent is better than having a single parent.
Religion: The victim of domestic violence believes that they have to stay with their spouse because their marriage vows were taken before God. “Till death do us part?”
The Dream: The battered person believes that when you marry you’ll live happily ever after.
Duty: The victim of domestic violence feels it is their duty to stay in the marriage because that is how they were raised.
Family Pressure: This happens when their family tells them she must keep her family together without any consideration for the victim’s own needs.
Belief: The battered person may believe that domestic violence is the way that men and women relate to each other. This often is because they were raised in a home where domestic violence was the norm.
All of these things contribute to the fact of battered people staying in abusive and violent situations.
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