CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

May 25, 2009

Why women stay in abusive relationships: Is this the right question?


CAROLYN’S COMPOSTITIONS

WHY WOMEN STAY IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS:

IS THIS THE RIGHT QUESTION?

      Why would a woman who’s been savagely beaten by her boyfriend run right back into his arms?

     That was the question people asked when singer Rihanna, who not only didn’t press charges after her boyfriend (singer Chris Brown) allegedly assaulted her in February, but may have even reconciled with him.

     It’s a question asked repeatedly by persons familiar with any abuse situation where the victim returns to a dangerous situation. And it’s a hard situation for most people to understand.

     Most often, the abused woman’s self-esteem is defined by the relationship, according to Charlee McVearry, shelter coordinator for Carpenter House, a High Point (North Carolina) shelter for battered women and their children. She said the woman gives the abuser the benefit of the doubt, remembering him as “the person who was so charming in the beginning, because abusers can be the most charming people in the world.”

     The reasons a woman stays are numerous.

     “When the abuse starts, she remembers how he was in the beginning—that’s who she fell in love with. This abusive person is someone else—it’s just a fluke thing. It’s hard for her to realize the abuser really is an abuser. But the truth is, the guy in the beginning—when he was on his best behavior—that’s the façade.”

     Don Holland, an outpatient therapist at High Point Behavioral Health, notes that abused women can learn coping skills if their father was abusive to their mothers; they may feel “stuck,” with such low self-esteem they are unable to ask for help and/or believe they have nowhere to go; they become paralyzed due to manipulative mental abuse; and/or they accept his remorse and apologies, which include his becoming the man they fell in love with.

     Abusive women are reputed to leave an average of seven times before it sticks. Each “leaving” allows them to test the waters outside the relationship.

      Thirty years ago, women and men in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, organized a hotline to serve abused women.

     “People didn’t think we would still be there (today),” said Ann Emmerling, director of the Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse. She noted that the Center is not seeing the hoped for change, but it is experiencing “generational abuse,” eg. continuing abuse in the generations since the Center began. “There is persistent, scary violence in all communities,” she said, even though the Center “did all we could that’s right—but maybe we didn’t do enough…the issue persists.” This violence is impacts other women’s issues—poverty, health, women in leadership. These issues, likewise, impact violence.

     On May 20, 2009, Emmerling spoke to the Women’s Leadership Council about the issues at the core of improving the status of women in the county.

     The Blackburn Center is pretty good at providing services, Emmerling noted, but PERHAPS WE HAVE BEEN ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION, she suggested. If we ask the wrong questions, we don’t get answers. And perhaps the question “Why does she stay?” is the wrong question.

     Why, Emmerling asked, are we always talking about the victim instead of the perpetrator? Why are we persisting in allowing the perpetrator’s behavior while doing nothing?

     What are the things that need to be changed?

     The Blackburn Center, which has done a lot of rethinking and refocusing, is responding to the question “What are the things that need to be changed?” This has led them in the direction of exploring the root causes of violence.

      Domestic violence is not random. It is very targeted, and it is gender focused—90% of rape victims are women. Thus, it occurs in a larger social context.

     One factor the Blackburn Center views as important is the objectification of women—a factor that is “so part of life we don’t see it.” The insidious message is in the media messages that inundate our lives. Girls are taught it is important to be in a relationship. Boys are taught it’s important to “score.” All believe that they are free to choose.

     We need to raise boys to believe that sexual violence is NOT okay.

     Energy and focus are important in fighting violence against women. Action makes a big difference, also, but if action counted laws would prevent the violence. We need to engage hearts and the minds in this battle. We need to demand that things get done and we need to demand accountability.

     We need to explore root causes. We need to explore the societal messages to young men that perpetuate this violence. We need to ask “Where’s the outrage in our community about violence against women?”

     The message is scary, because some of the questions are adversarial, enabling women to make men feel bad. How can the message be taken to the community in a non-adversarial way?

     If we don’t ask the right questions, in twenty-five years we will still be taking at baby steps. People need to hear the new questions. People need to join in the fight against domestic and other violence.

SOURCE: http://www.bhcjournal.com/default.aspx?abid=90&ArticleId=18085

ADDITIONAL READING ON ABUSE ISSUES:

CHILD ABUSE SERIES:

CHILD ABUSE DEFINITIONS

TYPES OF ABUSE

CHILD ABUSE AND SCRIPTURE

The Cycle of Abuse in Domestic Violence

ARTICLES ON ABUSE

WILL YOU LOVE ME TO DEATH?

SHOULD INFORMATION ON AN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSER BE PUBLICIZED?

WILL YOU LOVE ME TO DEATH?

BUTLER STREET

DUST MOTE  Joe

BEYOND THE ROCK

THOUGHTS FOR DAVID

REACH OUT

A PIECE OF ME

THE WELL-ADJUSTED CHILD

CHILDREN LEFT HOME ALONE (or in cars alone)

ANOTHER HORRIFYING HEADLINE

KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY

THE HOLOCAUST STORY OF A TEENAGE VICTIM (Part 1)

MY HAPPY PLACE

VOICES OF WILDERNESS: PEACE MEETING

DOES EXAGGERATING THE TRUTH CREATE GOOD STORIES?

And who will reach the downtrodden? Lent Devotion #18

SITE LINKS:

www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com/

www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com

www.barbarapurbaugh.com

www.pennwriters.com

www.ellenspain.com

www.westmorelandphotographers.ning.com

www.ligonierliving.blogspot.com

http://www.methodists-care.org/

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Domestic and sexual violence extend beyond women to relationships with spouses, children, organizations, nations. The existence and affected behaviors are buried so deep within the culture that to define, acknowledge, and remedy the problem is a daunting task. […]

    Pingback by “It’s on Us” to Stop Sexual Abuse | Carolyn's Online Magazine — April 14, 2016 @ 12:14 am | Reply


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