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Why do women stay with abusive partners?

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2014

[Note: if you’re unable to read about domestic violence against women for any reason, you might want to skip this post. Possibly related: the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.]

From an anonymous author on The Frisky, Why I Married My Abuser.

One Saturday afternoon a few months after our first date, I opened one of the cards and then smelled it as he beamed on proudly. I sniffed and joked “like a woman” because he was the first man I ever knew to send a scented envelope.

I know it’s a cliche, but if I close my eyes, I can still see that moment in slow motion. His face changed from beaming to furious. And suddenly, I was on the floor. It wasn’t until he extended his hand down to me saying, “Oh baby I am so sorry! Why did you have to say that? I’m so sorry!” that I realized I was on the floor because his fist had put me there. I actually thought for a second that a piece of the ceiling must have fallen down. Surely Hank couldn’t have hit me? That was something that happened to other people.

“Why did you have to say that?” The insidiousness of that simple phrase is chilling. From Obsidian Wings, the perspective of someone who worked at a battered women’s shelter for five years: Why Do They Stay?

So imagine yourself, in love with someone, on your honeymoon or pregnant, when suddenly this guy just goes ballistic, often for very little reason, and hits you. For a lot of women, this is profoundly shocking and disorienting. There are things that are comprehensible parts of the world, even if they’re rare, like having your car stolen; and then there are things that are unexpected in a completely different sense, like having your car turn into an elephant before your eyes: things that make you wonder whether you’re completely crazy. Being beaten up by someone who apparently loves you is one of those things.

What this means is that precisely when a woman needs as much confidence in her own judgment as she can muster, the rug is completely pulled out from under her. And it’s not just that she questions her judgment because she got involved with this guy in the first place; she questions her judgment because something so completely alien to the world she thinks she knows has just happened.

And via the National Domestic Violence Hotline site, Sarah Buel’s Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay.

14. Financial Abuse: Financial abuse is a common tactic of abusers, although it may take different forms, depending on the couple’s socio-economic status. The batterer may control estate planning and access to all financial records, as well as make all money decisions. Victims report being forced to sign false tax returns or take part in other unlawful financial transactions. Victims also may be convinced that they are incapable of managing their finances or that they will face prison terms for their part in perpetrating a fraud if they tell someone.

Since the video of former NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée out in an elevator leaked, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has seen an 84% increase in call volume. If any of the above rings true for you and your domestic situation, that phone number again is 1-800-799-7233.