Everyone won't leave an unhealthy relationship. Why?
How do you abandon someone so unhappy, so angry, so lostwho used to love you? How do you leave someone who used to be fun to be with, who used to laugh with you, hold your hand, tell you how beautiful you are? How do you walk away from the vows you made before God and man? How do you give up on something you made a commitment to? On the other hand, how do you remain in contact, in the relationship, when it hurts you so much?
Rachel Ramirez-Hammond is a training coordinator for Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) and, in her article (Fall 2011, Ohio Domestic Violence Network newsletter, Network News) relates her story about a client she met in Tampa, Florida when she was working at a domestic violence shelter. She jumped right in to help this young woman, pregnant and a toddler in tow, to escape her abuser. She didn't see that leaving her husband, whom she loved, was not what the woman wanted.
"Ultimately, her contact with me didn't help her that much because she wasn't looking for assistance in leaving her relationship. She was looking for assistance, support and help to create strategies to increase her and her child's safety while staying in the relationship. She also wanted validation that not only was the abuse at the hands of her husband wrong, but that it was okay that she still loved him," Ramirez-Hammond writes.
While some victims of domestic violence want no further contact with their abusers and are ready to move on with their lives, others "just want the abuse to stop." It's not just about physical safety. The victim may perceive she doesn't have job skills or enough education to enable her to find a job that will provide for herself and her children. Where will she live if she can't find work? Who will help her with the care of her children if she does work? Will she be safe out on her own or will she always be looking over her shoulder, stalked by her ex until he chooses the time to attack her? What resources are available to her?
Twenty years ago a therapist advised "Cynthia" that she was in an unhealthy relationship and needed to leave. She was almost convinced. Then the therapist added that she was the trigger. Whatever she decided to do would trigger a reaction in her husband. She decided it was better to stay and have some control than to leave and have none. She didn't believe that her husband would ever be able to physically harm her, but there always was that little seed of doubt in the back of her mind. The stress of the unhealthy relationship still weighs on her. "He was victimized, too."
She and Edgar would be connected through their children forever. Many victims are intent on staying in the relationship to make things work, to build relationships between the children and the parents, in spite of the violence.
"Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and coercive conduct that serves to deprive victims of safety and autonomy," advises ACADV (Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.)
"Perpetrators believe they are entitled to power and control over their partners and perceive all interactions within relationships through a prism of compliance or disobedience. Perpetrators use abusive tactics to reinforce their rules and maintain absolute control over their victims."
Domestic violence is a learned behavior. The abuser has witnessed it or experienced it within their family, community or culture. Also, the batterer is responsible for any abuse inflicted by them.
"A batterer abuses because he wants to, and thinks he has a 'right' to his behavior. He may think he is superior to his partner and is entitled to use whatever means necessary to control her," according to ACADV.
Many people think that joint marriage counseling is needed, but it is documented that joint counseling only compounds the couple's troubles. It is the batterer's problem. It is the batterer who needs the help.
There are people who do not want to leave their relationship, for whatever reason. They are in need of strategies that will help them to stay and maintain their home and family.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For more information about domestic violence, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. The agency provides education, prevention and treatment programs and can point you in the right direction for assistance in seeking recovery. FRC is funded, in part, by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.