Do They Stay?
Look At Domestic Violence
Ansie and Allie
centuries and cultures, domestic violence is not a problem new to
modern life. English
common law permitted a man to beat his wife as long as the
diameter of the stick he used was not wider than the width of his
thumb, hence the term “rule of thumb.”
violence does not happen in a vacuum.
It occurs because societal attitudes and values, as well as
economic and political realities, give the message that violence
is an acceptable way to solve problems and that people have the
“right” to control people who are dependent on them or
“worth” less than they are.
violence consists of a pattern of coercive behaviors used by a
competent adult or adolescent to establish and maintain power and
control over another competent adult or adolescent.”
The term “cycle of violence” describes the pattern of abuse,
which consists of 3 phases:
building – during this phase the victim tries to be particularly
obedient and kind in order to avoid violence.
However, the victim may become so frightened during this
phase that he/she attempts to provoke abuse, just to get it over
or the “honeymoon phase” – a period of indefinite length
when the batterer is contrite and demonstrates loving behavior.
the victim may seek intervention during both the tension building
and battering phases. He/she
is less likely to seek help during the reconciliation phase when
they are typically showered with apologies and assurances that the
abuse will never happen again.
and friends of victims of domestic violence often ask why they
stay in such horrible situations.
Some of the reasons include:
Love – domestic violence often occurs in a
relationship in which at least one person loves the other. The
victim wants everything to be all right again and is afraid of
losing the other person’s “love.”
Hope – the victim wants to believe the batterer’s
promises made during the “honeymoon” phase, which increase in
frequency and decrease in duration as the violence progresses.
Dependence – the victim may have a sense of
emotional and/or financial dependency.
They may feel there are no options but to stay, especially
if children are involved.
Fear – this is perhaps the most powerful factor.
Victims may fear that seeking care or assisting in
prosecuting their assailants may escalate the violence.
Unfortunately, their fears are based in fact.
Batterers do often escalate the violence when their
partners seek help or attempt separation.
The most dangerous time for the victim is during an attempt
to leave a relationship. Another
fear is the loss of children.
Abusers often retaliate by abducting offspring during the
early period of separation.
Learned helplessness – victims may become passive
and unable to protect themselves.
They may exhibit symptoms such as self-blame, chronic
anxiety, and paralyzing terror at the first sign of danger.
The person who is living in
an abusive relationship is not the only one harmed by the
who grow up in homes where domestic violence is present are also
victims, whether or not the child has witnessed it directly.
Behaviors often seen in children of battering victims
Exaggerated, constant fears of danger
Anxieties around separation and loss
Confusion regarding parental loyalties
Feelings of powerlessness
Exaggerated sense of guilt
Difficulty resolving conflicts with siblings and other
are some things you can do if you suspect someone is a victim of
Let the victim know that you are aware of the situation
Listen to them, believe them, and offer your support
Have information on local resources available
Support domestic violence legislation
Support local shelters and resource centers
are various resources available including shelters, legal
assistance, and medical care.
Unfortunately, 75% of victims continue in abusive
relationships despite intervention efforts made by family,
friends, law enforcement, and the medical community.
is important to remember that every victim is first a person.
Their victimization is only one part of their lives.
It may have changed their lives in many ways, but it is not
the full measure of who they are or who they could be.
A compassionate response to someone who has experienced
violence is a response to the whole person, not to a “victim.”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WEBSITES
NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
This comprehensive website outlines the problem of domestic
violence and includes discussions regarding why men batter women,
why women stay in abusive relationships, barriers to leaving,
predictors of domestic violence, safety planning, legal
guidelines, shelters available and more.
Valuable links to other related websites are also included.
SERVICES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTER TOURS
This helpful website offers essential information for
battered women. This
site examines various issues related to family violence such as
the effect of domestic violence on children, teen relationship
abuse, welfare reform, immigration and family violence, and
domestic violence in the workplace.
Also offered is a heart-wrenching children’s art gallery
that contains drawings by children who have survived family
Finally, this website includes a guide for getting help in
the USA and has over 150 links to resources around the world where
women from other countries can access help.
LOVE, BROKEN LIVES
Here you will find dozens of articles related to domestic
violence, its causes, its victims, and some solutions.
VIOLENCE, FAMILY VIOLENCE, CHILD ABUSE PAGE
Facts, hotlines, and valuable links to other sites
can all be found on this website.
Also included are one woman’s story of her experience
with domestic violence and a missing/exploited children’s page
where pictures of children who have disappeared are displayed with
the hopeful intent that they may some day be found.
From the University of Toronto in Canada, this
website takes a comprehensive look at psychological violence and
examines its frequency, what it looks like, causes, ways to deal
with it, where to go for help, and more.