Most women do not stay in abusive relationships because they like being abused. It is, also, not true that only weak, helpless women are caught up in abusive relationships. Many of the women who are involved in abusive relationships are strong, capable women, but over time have been weakened by domestic abuse. There are several reasons why a physically abused person will choose to remain in their relationships/marriage;
- A physically abused child may remain because they do not have other options. In Nigeria, for example, we do not have child services department who receive, investigate, and respond to reports of child abuse and neglect. You are basically on your own here, in Nigeria, if you have abusive parents.
- A physically abused woman who is a housewife, has no one to turn and has to depend on her abuser for food, shelter and clothing. The fear of starting from nothing will prevent her from leaving.
- A physically abused wife and mother who is dependent on her abuser to provide for her and her children. The fear of raising the children alone.
- Sometimes, the abusers threaten to take the children from the abused if they try to leave. In this situation, the abused does not see any other option than to remain.
- The abusers may even threaten to kill them, their loved ones or themselves if they leave.
Other reasons are that;
- She fears being alone.
- She came from an abusive home so the violence seems natural.
- She denies or minimizes the abuse, e.g., “It really wasn’t that bad. He only hits me every few months.”
- She stays because of religious or cultural beliefs.
- She believes leaving will mean she is a failure as a wife and mother.
- The victim believes if she can work harder to please him, he will treat her better.
- She blames herself and thinks she deserved the beatings.
- She doesn’t believe she can escape her batterer’s domination.
- She may think other people will believe it is her fault.
- He is not always brutal- he can be very loving when he is not abusive. (Source: www.familylife.com)
The below are still signs of abuse;
- When the incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television, or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.
- When the incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
- When the physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted.
- When there has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand. (Source: Breaking the Silence Handbook)
For those in relationships, there are early signs to look out for in other to avoid marrying an abuser. According to www.yourtango.com, if your partner displays the following behaviours, it is possible you are in an abusive relationship;
- They push for quick involvement- coming on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this before by anyone.” You get pressured for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
- There’s constant jealousy- your partner is excessively possessive, calling constantly, or visiting unexpectedly.
- They are controlling- interrogating you intensely about who you talked to and where you were, checking mileage on the car, keeping all the money or asking for receipts, checking call records, text messages, recycle bin for deleted emails/messages, and insisting you ask for permission to go anywhere or do anything.
- They have very unrealistic expectations- expecting perfection from you and for you to meet their every need.
- There’s isolation- trying to cut you off from family and friends, depriving you of a phone or car, or trying to prevent you from holding a job or seeking additional professional qualification. Basically, being dependent on them.
- They blame others for their own mistakes- the boss, family, you — it’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.
- They make everyone else responsible for their feelings- the abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of “I’m angry.” “I wouldn’t get so pissed off if you wouldn’t…”
- They are hypersensitive- easily insulted and always ranting and raving about injustices that are just part of life.
- They are cruel to animals and children- killing or punishing animals brutally. He/she may also expect children to do things beyond their ability or tease them until they cry.
- They use “playful” force during sex- enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will; finds the idea of rape exciting. Intimidating, manipulating or forcing you to engage in unwanted sex acts.
- There’s verbal abuse- constantly criticizing you or saying cruel things. Degrading, cursing and calling you ugly names, using vulnerable points about your past or current life against you.
- There are rigid gender roles in the relationship- expecting you to serve, obey and remain at home.
- They have sudden mood swings- switching from loving to angry in a matter of minutes.
- They have a past of battering- admitting to hitting women/men in the past, but stating that they or the situation brought it on.
- Threatening violence- making statements such as, “I’ll break your neck,” but then dismissing it with “I really didn’t mean it.”
All the points above are not exhaustive.
In the next write up, I will be focusing on Psychological/Emotional abuse.