"Why would a woman remain in an abusive relationship?" Have you ever heard that question, or asked it?
She may not understand exactly what domestic violence is, that she is living the abuse cycle. That may be the only way of life she knows. She may not know how she got there or how to get out of it. She may be afraid because she doesn't know where she will go, what she will do, how she will take care of herself. If she has dependent children, how will she take care of them? How will she protect them? Homeless and living in the streets is not a safe, healthy environment for anyone.
When she is told by a therapist, "You are in an unhealthy relationship. You need to get out," she may be convinced but when the therapist feels obligated to add, "You are the trigger. Whatever you decide to do will set off a series of events that will end up with someone getting hurt," she may draw back. She can't put anyone else in dangerfriends, family, childrenIf she stays she is the only one who will be hurt. The rest of her world will be safe if she is strong enough.
Domestic violence is a cycle that continues until it is broken. "What are you teaching your children?" may be a question that is asked of her. Domestic violence is the use of emotional or physical abuses by one person to control another: name-calling, put-downs, withholding money, actual or threatened physical harm, stalking, intimidation, sexual assault, preventing a person having contact with their family or friends, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job. Abuse is NEVER a one time event. It's about power and control.
The Violence Wheel defines abuse very clearly:
Intimidation: Causing fear with looks, actions and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.
Emotional Abuse:Putting her down, making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names, making her think she's crazy. Playing mind games, humiliating her, and making her feel guilty.
Isolation: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.
Minimizing, denying, blaming:Making light of abuse. Not taking her concerns seriously. Saying the abuse didn't happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it.
Using children:Make her feel guilty about the children. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass her. Threatening to take the children away.
Using male privilege:Treating her like a servant. Making all the big decisions. Acting like "the master of the castle." Being the one to define men's and women's roles.
Economic abuse:Preventing her getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance-or not. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income.
Using coercion:Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges. Making her do illegal things.
You may be a victim of physical, financial or emotional battering. It may be a neighbor, a friend, a family member. You may not even be aware of the situation, and if you are, you don't want to cause more problems for that victim. But you can find out how you can help by contacting Christina House, 330-420-0036; Help Hotline Crisis Center, 330-424-7767 or Family Recovery Center, 330-424-1468. It may not be safe for you to make the call from your home, nor to use a home computer that an abuser may access to keep track of his victim. Go to a safe place to learn more about domestic violence and find the help you need to be safe.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For more information about FRC's education, prevention and treatment programs contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC a member of the Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition and is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.