We often are from the outside looking in not understanding why women stay in an abusive relationship. We ask ourselves why they just don’t get out and why they would choose to live in that way.
Most of the time fear is what drives the women to stay; they could have been threatened in such a way that they are just too afraid. The fear of the unknown and being alone can also play its part. It is just a conflict of emotions that take place. They are embarrassed to admit that they are being abused. They often have low self esteem generated from the abuse and therefore believe they have caused it or that they do not deserve any better! Sometimes women just think it is normal and become accustomed to it. They love that person and they want to believe the best about them, they tell themselves that things will change. A type of Stockholm syndrome occurs where the victim feels compassion to the abuser.
Abused women are victims, whether it is verbal or physical abuse, they are controlled and manipulated and bullied. The abuser can be so charming and plea genuinely that they will change and they didn’t mean to do it. They say that they will stop being jealous or let you go out with your friends. He says all the things he knows you want to hear. They come with gifts and flowers only to set back into old habits within the day.
Sometimes the abuser is well known in the church, community or neighbourhood and don’t think anyone will take their side or support them if they had to leave. If there are children involved the women feels guilt for taking them away from the father or fears what the father may do to her or the children. There is often a general distrust built up of anyone, they do not trust family of police to help. Often the abuser isolates the victim not allowing them to see friends or family. Every move is scrutinised. The women are basically broken down into nothing.
They have probably been controlled into a point of complete dependency making it extremely difficult to leave. They do not have their own income or bank account as every area is controlled. They do not have anywhere to go. Not having finances can make leaving almost impossible. They also become addicted to the dependency and do not know how to break free of it.
If you are helping a friend or concerned about them, show you support and care but try not to judge. Offer her help and support and encourage her to make the right choice to leave. Show her available options and just be her friend. Build her up where he is tearing her down. Show her that she does have power and help her to gain her self esteem again. Secretly keep watch over her and do not give up on trying to help her!