1. They have been brainwashed.
- Woman who have been in a long term abusive relationship often have their self-esteem beaten down. Messages like, “You couldn’t get better than me. You are lucky I put up with you.”, or “I wouldn’t of hit you if you weren’t being such a b*tch.”, told to a woman repeatedly can significantly wear down her self-esteem. Many women start to believe they deserve the abuse they received, and that they could not find better, nor do they deserve better. Do not underestimate the power of this dynamic. Women in these situations often have a hard time making decisions because they come to doubt themselves so much.
2. They were trained from childhood this is how they should be treated.
- Many women grew up in abusive homes, so this is normal to them. Their moms were treated this way and so were they as children. They don’t know relationships can be any better. This can be applied to any level of abuse. If emotional abuse was normal in their childhood, emotional abuse is most likely going to be repeated in their adult relationships unless they consciously choose to do it different. Same applies to physical abuse. Training yourself to be in a healthy relationship after a life time of abuse tolerance training is not easy to accomplish.
3. They are afraid to leave.
- 75% of woman who are murdered by their partners are killed when they attempt to leave. Abusers often times make threats to take the children or harm people the woman care about. Leaving can be a terrifying act.
4. They truly believe he is going to change.
- Often times after the abuse happens, the abuser will promise to change and apologize for what they did. This can be very convincing! This is called the honeymoon stage. Abusers will often go to great lengths to convince their partner that they have changed and it will never happen again. Unfortunately this is often just a stage and the change is not long term. In my office I have heard the apologies on many abusive men and at times, I myself have been convinced of the sincerity only to find out later it was false. One speech is not enough. Long term actions must be seen.
5. They have nowhere to go.
- Often times abusers isolate their partner. They cut them off from friends and family to the point of little to no contact. The abuser can be so controlling that leaving is practically impossible. Some abusers will slash their own tires in an attempt to get their partner to stay. Many times women are cut off financially so they cannot make it without the abuser.
If you are in an abusive relationship reach out for help. Counseling may be necessary to undo some of the brainwashing you experienced. It is scary to leave but there is support out there for you.
If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship reach out to them. Offer support and do what you can to build their self-esteem. They may reject your help initially but don’t give up. Keep in mind however you do not want to push them away with your intention to help. Try to find balance in your compassion.