It’s the age old question asked of domestic violence victims — why stay? If your partner is abusing you, you should leave.
Then comes the judgment, and my favorite line:
“If that was me, I would never stand for that. I would leave immediately!”
Sometimes, it’s that easy. 90% of the time, it is not.
Keep in mind, an abuser never hits you on the first date. Or even the second date. An abusive relationship begins much like any other relationship — with love, trust, and wooing. But somewhere along the line, the abuser becomes controlling. S/he begins to isolate the victim from friends and family. The abuser begins to break down the victim’s self esteem. Emotional abuse becomes a key factor. And then physical abuse (if used) begins.
To further complicate matters is the concept of the cycle of violence. Once the abuser hits the victim, the abuser becomes incredibly apologetic, even tearful. The s/he promises this will never happen again. There may be gifts, as well as a temporary change in behavior. This is called the honeymoon period. But after the honeymoon enters a period of tension and escalation, until there is another violent episode. The cycle begins anew.
Rihanna, in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, spoke about her highly publicized relationship abusive with Chris Brown. She said:
“I was that girl…that girl who felt that as much pain as this relationship is, maybe some people are built stronger than others. Maybe I’m one of those people built to handle s%&* like this. Maybe I’m the person who’s almost the guardian angel to this person, to be there when they’re not strong enough”. She admitted that she believed she could change him.
See her full interview here.
Her thought process is not unique among victims/domestic violence survivors. Some believe that they can change the abuser, or that the abuser can go back the kind person they fell in love with. But there are other common themes among victims and survivors of domestic violence relationships: fear, love, family, money, shame, and isolation.
The Huffington Post did a powerful article featuring the stories of six survivors and why they stayed. Please read with an open mind — it may give some insight as to the grueling journey the millions of women and men endure every day. Read the article here.
24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
That’s 12 million men and women per year.
Think about that, and read more stats here.
As always, comments are welcome!