Domestic violence continues to show up in marriages and plague families still today. The ever present conflict that arises when two individuals in a marriage fail to see eye to eye is characteristic of most marriages. It is a necessary part of the growth process that, if done in a healthy way, can strengthen the bond and improve the overall quality of the marriage thereby benefiting the family as a whole. But what happens when there is a breakdown in the function and foundation of the marriage and it is no longer as it was meant to be? The questions that we want to address today is not how or why this breakdown takes place, but why women stay in such an unhealthy environment.
Security For some women, the perceived safety and security of their marriage is all that they have and they struggle with the thought of being able to provide this for themselves and their children. Even though someone on the outside looking in can see the detriment in remaining in such an environment; either the abused women cannot see or chooses not to see. From the inside there is the thought, and in some cases, the fear that without the marriage there is a threat to their security and that survival without it is dismal.
Religious beliefs When you grow up with strong religious beliefs, you may have been taught that the only reason one may divorce is for adultery. As a result, the way become clouded and there is no perceived valid reason to end the marriage except in this case. So if there is no known evidence of adultery, in these cases where religion is an essential part of the marriage, there is only one thing to do; stay.
Children Making the children choose or having them torn between which parent they would prefer to live with presents a challenge when considering leaving an abusive marriage. Depending on the extent of the abuse, the safety of the children is a concern, especially if he abusive husband will likely create obstacles to leaving with the children or sharing the children after divorce
Finances Stay at home moms may have this fear as their whole survival may depended solely on the earnings of their abusive husband. They may not have access to money, bank accounts or other financial resources. For women who work and are in an abusive relationship, finances may still be an issue as both may share a bank account or the abusive husband controls most of the spending
Fear A real or perceived threats can often occupy the mind of the abused wife. Just the thought of packing up and leaving causes a knot in the pit of her stomach. Depending on the severity of the abuse, a women may fear what will happen to her or her children if she makes the choice to walk out. Often times, the abuser has presented a strong case for why his wife should not leave, furthermore increasing her fear,
Support Many women suffer in silence without letting their family and/or friends know their dismal circumstances. Some family members know but don’t know how to help. Other families are oblivious to what is taking place in the relationship as it is hidden so well by both the abused woman and her abusive husband. Unfortunately, in many cases, abused women do not let anyone know about their unhealthy home environment for fear of harm being done to her, her children, or her family. Other abused women are just plan embarrassed and would prefer to cover up their husbands bad behavior
Hope that things will change It is not unlikely or unheard of that things do change. It is the hope of the abused woman that her husband will change and start to treat her as she deserves. There is always a glimmer of hope within the cycle of abuse ( tension building, incident, reconciliation, calm) that gives the false idea that things will change. But as reality sets in and the cycle continues, change become a small fragment of hope that may never quite manifests fully to make a real difference
Lack of knowledge of resources As stated earlier, while a victim of abuse may share with family members, they often may not know how to help. Without knowledge of resources, the victim suffers unnecessary reoccurring episodes. It is also possible that because of the extent of the abuse, the victim may feel that no one can help her. She is unaware of the extensive services that may be available or how to access them.
There may be many other reasons not listed here of why women choose to stay in abusive marriages. If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, direct them to the resources below:
Resources for victims of domestic violence:
©Kim Seymore April 2017