Abuse is something that happens to women all over the world. The number of abuse instances that happen in the United States is approximately 960,000 reported cases per year. More than 85 percent of the incidents happen to women, and the rest happen to men. The health costs from domestic violence add up to more than $5.8 billion every year. The laws are growing stricter each year against people who abuse women. However, some abused women remain quiet about their suffering because of fear and loss of faith in the judicial system.
Why Abuse Occurs
Many people ask the question, “Why do men abuse women?” However, instances of female abuse against men do occur. Abusive women do exist in the world. In fact, emotionally abusive women are quite common among the population of abusers. Therefore, the proper question about abuse should be, “Why do people abuse other people?” Abuse occurs for a wide variety of reasons. Some of the top reasons for abuse are as follows:
Unfortunately, some people learn how to abuse other people during childhood. Abusive men and abusive women do not start their lives as abusers. Some children witness one of their parents abusing the other parent. They may see their father hitting their mother, or they may notice that their mother degrades and demeans their father. Children learn how to interact with other people by watching how the world around them operates. Therefore, a large number of abusive people develop their dysfunctional behaviors by watching their parents perform them.
Some abusive adults develop abusive habits because their parents abused them. They may have suffered sexual, physical, emotional or verbal abuse from one or both of their parents. Therefore, they know no other way of coping with life’s stresses or relating to other men and women. They may have dysfunctional child-rearing skills, and they may abuse their children if they do not obtain assistance to learn new habits.
Lack of Coping Skills With Mental Illness
Abuse sometimes occurs in certain mental illnesses. A person with a mental illness may have a predisposition to become angry. Without the appropriate coping skills, that person may conduct physical, verbal or emotional violence. Behavioral therapy can help people with mental illnesses, and it can assist people who survived abuse as children.
Adoption of Childhood Customs
Some people do not realize that the actions that they take are abusive ones. Some countries may have customs that involve punishing a husband, wife or child. The laws have changed over the years regarding child discipline. Therefore, some states in the United States consider corporal punishment as child abuse. Parents from certain generations may be confused about the changes because they grew up in an era during which the law permitted child beating and spanking. Domestic violence can be intentional or unintentional. Nevertheless, a person who commits such acts needs to seek assistance so that he or she can learn to stop the cycle.
Signs of Abuse
Abused women are often quiet about their pain. Family members and friends can pinpoint cases of abuse by paying close attention to their loved ones’ signs and signals. Social withdrawal is one of the main signs of women abuse. An abusive man may not permit his wife or girlfriend to associate with family members, friends, co-workers or acquaintances. Therefore, such people may notice that the female starts to withdraw within several months of starting a new relationship.
Physical bruises, lacerations, black eyes and broken bones are obvious signs that someone has physically harmed a woman. An abused woman may lie about her injuries, however. For example, an abused woman may say that she fell on a coffee table and got her black eye when her face hit the table. The lies are often inconsistent with the injury types.
Depression and anger may manifest in abused women, as well. For example, an abused woman may always seem as if she is angry at the world or depressed about everything that goes wrong in her life. She may have extremely low self-esteem and self-confidence. She may have trouble finding joy in the things that used to make her smile.
Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?
Many people wonder why women stay in abusive relationships. It is quite common for a woman to stick with a man who is hitting her, demeaning her or destroying her self-esteem and confidence. People who are on the outside cannot understand why abused women do not just walk away from it all. The process sounds quite easy, but in reality, leaving an abusive relationship is one of the most difficult things an abused woman will ever have to do. The following are some of the top reasons that women stay in abusive relationships:
Fear of Change
One of the most common reasons that women stay in abusive relationships is a fear of change. Childhood abuse survivors often do not know any lifestyle other than the ones their parents painted for them. Therefore, a woman with a narcissistic mother or father might feel “normal” in an abusive relationship. She may not understand the dynamics of a healthy, loving relationship. Asking an abused woman to walk away from her comfort zone is similar to asking an infant to separate from her mother. The process is painful and unsettling.
Fear of Being Alone
Another reason that abused women stay in abusive relationships is the fear of being alone. Solitude is scary for some women because they are used to receiving validation from other people. They are used to being intertwined in the life of a narcissist or abuser. These women often feel worthless if they do not have someone in their lives that they can “fix” or “love.” They often do not know how to love themselves. Therefore, leaving an abusive relationship does not seem appealing because it would leave an abused woman with no definition of herself and no knowledge of what to do with herself.
Some abused women stay in poor relationships because they do not like to lose. They think about the time that they invested in the relationships, and they would rather suffer and wait for the day when the abused person “changes” and everything gets better. Unfortunately, that fantasy almost never occurs. Many abusers do not recognize or acknowledge that they are abusing their mates. Abusers who do realize their faults often still do not want to seek help for it.
Some abused women feel that their abusers will find another mate and treat her better if they give up on the relationship. That concept is a false one, as well. Abusers have dysfunctional behavioral patterns. They do not automatically treat people better. They may disguise their abuse at the beginning of a relationship, but they will eventually show themselves to the new mate.
Stockholm syndrome is a condition that may cause abused women to stay with their abusers. These women may stick around because of the crumbs of affection and “love” that they get from their abusers. Women with Stockholm syndrome learn through conditioning to “appreciate” when their abusers do not inflict pain on them.
Low self-esteem is another huge problem that causes abused women to stay with their abusers. Long exposure to abuse deteriorates the woman’s psyche. She starts to believe that she will never find anyone else and that no one will love her because she is worthless. Therefore, she sticks to the abusive male like an adhesive until the day that she realizes that her life with him is not going to get better. Leaving an abusive relationship is easier said than it is done. However, strong women can use the resources that are available to escape their abusers and start rebuilding their lives.
Help for Abused Women
A myriad of help is available for abused women who want it. Women Against Abuse is an organization of abuse survivors and other abuse advocates who work to educate women on abuse. An abused woman can learn about different types of abuse on the WAA website. She can find information on hotlines and helpful organizations. She can listen to the stories of women who have experienced the same pains that she has experienced. Additionally, she can take action against abuse by participating in rallies and campaigns. She can offer a helping hand or a warming word. WAA is a united movement that provides education and compassion that can save abused women all over the world.
Shelters are another source of help for abused women. Almost every county in every state in the U.S. has a shelter for abused women. Abuse shelters are clean and safe homes that are fully staffed with people who care about abused women. Victims can call a hotline and speak to an intake specialist who can help them to obtain a bed inside of a women’s shelter. Domestic violence shelters provide food and lodging to women who are victims of domestic abuse. The shelters provide educational tools and information to these women, as well.
Abused women can escape to such shelters with their children to keep them away from abuse. The staff members at the domestic shelter will help the women to apply for restraining orders and any other legal services that they need. Victims no longer have to fear that their abusers will find them because domestic shelter information is quiet and confidential. The shelters do not ask the victims for money, but they may ask them to participate in house chores and group meetings.
One of the best aspects of the Internet is its ability to connect people with the resources that they need. Abused women can find self-help books, websites, blogs, articles and other information about domestic violence so that they can break the cycle. Sometimes, just reading someone else’s story can help a woman to gather the strength to say, “Enough is enough!” Sometimes, all a woman needs is for a genuine friend to offer her encouragement without judgment. Abused women can walk toward the sunlight with the right people in their lives helping them along the way.