Psychology Today: Domestic Violence

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Sometimes when we ask them about the bruises, women say: “I fell …It was an accident”. Or, other times women say: “He only does it sometimes …If I hadn’t said that to him (whatever ‘that’ is) he probably wouldn’t have hit me …Please don’t tell anyone …He loves me … I deserved it…he was right …dinner was late…”

After reading the first paragraph one might say to another: “That doesn’t really happen, does it?” Or, if you believe it does happen (and it does) you may ask yourself: “Why do some women stay in these types of relationships?” Or, more specifically: “Where on God’s green earth might thoughts and beliefs like those above come from?”

imagesWomen who are victims of domestic abuse remain in these types of relationship for a number of reasons: (1) Perhaps it’s the only type of love she knows (these types of relationships can be learned); (2) Perhaps it’s because she has nowhere else go (she could be thrown out the door tomorrow, or now, if she doesn’t ‘comply’); (3) Perhaps it’s because she has no-one but the abuser to turn to (e.g., he pays the bills, she has lost her friends due to isolation and his controlling nature); (4) Perhaps it’s for the children’s sake, or, perhaps more importantly, (5) She lacks the self respect or self esteem necessary to gain back the independence she may have once had before the relationship began so many years ago.

Domestic violence is a serious social issue that affects one in every four relationships. Interventions for victims and abusers are contingent upon reporting of the violence, but many cases are never reported. In addition, a child in a domestic violence situation is 1500% more likely to be abused than a child from a home without violence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993). Exposure to domestic violence has also been linked to negative mental health outcomes including depression and anxiety.

Research also shows that the longer a woman stays in a relationship with an abuser (verbal or otherwise), the lower her self esteem becomes. And the lower her self esteem becomes, the lower the probability things will change. This is because by this stage of the relationship her esteem has convinced her that she doesn’t deserve anyone better than the man that she has right now. And perhaps he has convinced her that no-one else would want her anyway. She soon finds herself agreeing with him; about this, about everything. She exhausted all possibilities of escape a long time ago. She no longer has the energy to fight. She didn’t know how to fix it then. She doesn’t know how to fix it now. She has given in. Depression becomes deeper and deeper. She turns to alcohol for relief….oblivion.

If you or anyone you know is suffering with mental health or addiction issues and is requesting help, please contact the writer: Karen Hausmann, BA (Psych), MA (Counselling Psych) @ 650-2859 or email questions and comments to [email protected]

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