According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline , domestic abuse can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Why do people stay and continue in abusive relationships?
The abuser will continuously insult, criticize and fault. The toxic verbal assault acts as a poison, that erodes the victim’s esteem. The victim begins to doubt their own self worth and their own decision-making abilities.
The abuser does not trust their partner, acts possessive and monitors their partner’s comings and goings. The victimized spouse and children try to appease their abuser and become more like caretakers, instead of loving family members. The victimized spouse begins to conform to the abuser’s warped idea of a perfect enslaved partner.
He creates an environment of control by limiting access to finances, transportation, friends and family. The goal is to create complete isolation and helpless dependency. The spouse feels that she will be worse off if she tries to escape.
The abuser has a warped sense of parental authority. He expects his spouse to ask permission before taking on any task. She will withhold sex, love and affection as a punishment or threatens to withhold affection as a form of control.
Humiliation, threats of harm or actual physical harm to family members or pets are blamed on the victim.
Men are not immune to living with an abusive partner. Men live under social standards that cause paralyzing shame and stigma. From youth, men are taught not to give the appearance of being a victim, cry, hit a lady or be seen as a coward.
In youth, women are taught to tolerate badly behaved individuals, keep awful secrets and keep up good appearances.
Men and women will stay in an abusive relationship for the same reasons. Both can develop severe coping mechanisms that keep them locked into their desperate situations.
Both sexes will;
- Deny the existence of the abuse.
- Say that only awful people are hurt and will take unnecessary responsibility for their partner’s hurtful reactions.
- Will stay to protect their children. The abused victim believes that their abuser will somehow wind up with the children despite their best efforts and they must stay to keep them from harm.
- Stay and hope for positive change in their partner.
- See themselves as the heroes and heroines in their marriage. The abused victim sees themselves as the only hope for any good in the marriage.
Many abusers do not stop their abuse. The abuse will escalate to the point that the victim will either fear for her life or take the life of the abuser. Children that live with domestic violence usually will become victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.
The Houston Police Department, HPD, has a Family Violence Unit, FVU, that deals specifically with helping victims in abusive relationships. The FVU encourages victims to contact (713) 308-1100. Keeping abuse a secret only benefits the abuser, not the victim.
The HPD website contains many helpful numbers to agencies, organizations, counselors and shelters that have long histories of successfully helping battered spouses safely escape and deal with abusive relationships.
Play the video below to view the Domestic Violence PSA.