Updated May 13, 2023
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
“1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc”
It may seem crazy to you to stay in abusive relationships but for many it’s complicated
The first thing to understand about abusive relationships is that we don’t always know we’re in one. A traumatic childhood or demanding parents may have led us down a path where certain behaviors are not foreign and don’t seem dangerous. Many women are confused about whether or not they are actually in one. Do you feel bad or frightened all the time? Are you walking on eggshells in your relationship? You’re not alone. According to the CDC, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical abuse. For one in five women and one in seven men, the abuse is severe, yet many take a long time to admit it or simply refuse to leave an abusive partner. Take a look at the four stages of abuse. Does this seem familiar to you?
4 stages in the cycle of abuse are one reason women can’t leave
- Your abuser’s tension is building – you can feel the storm brewing on the horizon. You’re likely on your best behavior, trying to head arguments off at the pass.
- Your abuser begins acting out – this is when the abuse happens. It may be verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial, spiritual, or any combination of all three.
- Here comes the honeymoon – this stage is what often keeps victims trapped. The abuser is very sorry and promises it will never happen again.
- After the storm comes the calm – you feel safe, like maybe you can actually believe your partner this time. Unfortunately, this cycle almost always repeats itself. Read more
There are many kinds of abuse not all of them physical, but they all create confusion low self esteem and fear of consequences
Women Can’t leave for these emotional reasons
Destructive conditioning makes people think they are to blame. Being controlled and hurt is traumatizing, and this leads to confusion, doubts, and self-blame. Perpetrators harass and accuse victims, which wears them down and causes despair and guilt. Women aren’t sure of what’s happening to them and think it’s their fault. They are afraid to blame their loved ones for fear of being gaslighted or hurt even more.
Low Self Esteem causes paralysis . Some of the unfortunate distortions are the damage to the self that results from degrading treatment. Many women felt beaten down and of no value, saying: “He made me believe I was worthless and alone,” and, “I felt I had done something wrong and I deserved it.”
Abuse is terrifying. The threat of bodily and emotional harm is powerful, and abusers use this to control and keep women trapped and female victims of violence are much more likely than male victims to be terrorized and traumatized.
Women can’t leave because they want to protect their children. Women put their children first, sacrificing their own safety: “I was afraid if he wasn’t beating me he would beat his kids. And I valued their lives more than my own.”
One hallmark of abuse is living in Isolation. A common tactic of manipulative partners is to separate their victims from family and friends. Sometimes this is physical, as one woman experienced: “I was literally trapped in the backwoods of WV.” Other times isolation is emotional, as one woman was told: “You can either have friends and family or you can have me.”