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Cathy Meyer

How To Stop Domestic Violence

By January 23, 2012

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I received a reader email recently from a woman who has lived in an abusive marriage for nearly 20 years. What I found interesting was her admission that the relationship had been abusive before marriage and that she knew on her wedding day that she was "making a big mistake."

She wanted me to tell her "why" she had made the choice to marry someone who abused her and "why" she had stayed. I had to ask myself the same questions after reading her email. Why do some people choose to remain in relationships that are unhealthy?

What I found most disturbing about her emails to me was her inability to take responsibility for the choices she had made. She chose to marry someone who abused her. She chose to stay in a marriage with an abuser.

I have a simplistic view of these situations. Or I should say, some of these situations. I realize that domestic abuse is a complicated problem but I also know that the longer you stay in an abusive relationship the more complicated the problem becomes.

My theory is, if you want to stop domestic violence leave the moment you became aware of the fact that you are being abused. There is no excuse for someone hitting you so don't make excuses. In the majority of cases there is no hope of the abuser changing so don't hang around and hope for change.

The longer you stay in an abusive relationship the more ammunition you give the abuser. The longer you stay the easier it is for the abuser to whittle away at your self-worth, self-esteem and ability to resist their tactics.

After some thought and a conversation with a friend who is a therapist I think I figured out "why" this woman and other victims stay in abusive relationships. They want the abuse to stop but they also want the relationship.

They put the need to be in the relationship before their own need for safety. What they don't realize is that there will come a day when their need for safety outweighs their need for the relationship. When that day comes they have lost the ability to simply walk away.

For some stopping domestic violence is simply a matter of valuing the relationship you have with yourself over the relationship you have with another person.

Comments
March 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm
(1) Goldy55 says:

After leaving an abusive relationship of 33 yrs., I realized & have come to terms w/the fact my mother was abusive. My future didn’t show abusive tendencies at all. His issues didn’t materialize until we had been married quite a few yrs. Yes it is an extremely complicated situation. If you lived in one as a child, you don’t immediately recognize the different types of things now known as “abuse”. 20 yrs. ago this problem wasn’t even recognized with the exception of a “drunk throwing his wife up against the wall w/the children shivering in the corner”. There is so much more to this issue & if you’ve never been in the situation it would be extremely hard for you to understand how this all goes back to our childhood! We now understand that Passive Aggressive behaviors are abuse except when the man you love or claims to love you lies to your face without blinking an eyelash how are you to know that!

March 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm
(2) Realist says:

Why do women stay? Because abusive men have scared them into staying. . I tried to break up and/or leave many times only to be harassed, threatened and abused more. Why don’t you read a few books about the most dangerous time for a woman is when she tries to leave instead of making knee jerk statements. Abusive men know how to get women under their thumbs and how to keep them there by isolation, mindgames, threats of violence and violence. They will use any ammunition they can, the children, the extended family, jobs, church, whatever.

Read WHY DOES HE DO THAT by Lundy Bancroft to understand the ind of an angry, controlling abusive man and the tactics and techniques he uses to keep his captive. Stop blaming the victim.

December 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm
(3) Michelle says:

I find your article disgusting and what is wrong with this society. I for one had many great years with my ex. I did not see this coming and so it is a gradual thing. slow verbal abuse, emotional abuse, not like one day he up and hits you and you go oh I forgive you. By the time it happens youve already been isolated, beaten down emotionally and verbally and you question yourself, then it happens and often you’ve been financially strongarmed, I was on an allowance and your stuck. So don’t treat the issue so simply, it is offensive.

October 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm
(4) Melanie Jean Mayfield says:

The WORST part of spousal abuse is the crooked cops and so-called “justice system” that aids and abets the perpetrators and punishes the victims for fighting back.

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