Domestic violence has decreased

Acceptance of abusive treatment can start young

Merdies Hayes | 10/17/2013, midnight
Between 600,000 and 6 million American women will be a victim of domestic violence this year. The median of that ...

Nationally, the Department of Justice reported in 2010 that 95 percent of assaults on spouses or ex-spouses were committed by men against women; nearly one-third of the women who seek care from hospital emergency rooms are there for injuries resulting from domestic violence. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders, the perpetrators were intimates—husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.

Federal officials reported in 2010 that women from 15 to 44 years were more likely than those of other ages to be victimized by an intimate; this figure includes attacks on women separated from their husbands which was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women. Within this scenario, the federal study found that 53 percent of battered women still involved with the perpetrator blamed themselves for causing the violence.

The previous finding lends to the common question of “why do women stay?” According to an August 2013 article published by LiveStrong.com, denial is the most frequent reason. Apparently, after a violent episode, the abusive partner may be extremely apologetic and often swears that the abuse will never happen again. And, for a while, it doesn’t—the perpetrator is on his best behavior. Therefore, women in these types of relationships may convince themselves that the partner “didn’t mean it” and experience denial about their partner’s violent temper.

Then there’s a personal history. Some women believe the behavior is normal; in this case, it was explained, many women grew up with an abusive parent (typically the father or male guardian), and they had watched their mother endure years of abuse which may lead them to believe that women are expected to tolerate this behavior. Fear is a major factor behind remaining with a violent mate. The abusive spouse sometimes convinces the woman that he will injure or kill her, the children, loved ones or even pets if she finally walks out. The victim may also fear being stalked or harassed at work and, alternately, the abuser may threaten to kill himself if she leaves.

Other factors, the federal study indicated, involving in the reluctance to leave the abuser include, lack of a support system (”Where will I go?”); lack of money—particularly if children are involved—because the woman has become economically dependent on the abuser; feelings of guilt (often the woman believes the abuser simply needs help psychologically and will remain loyal despite the situation); religious beliefs which reinforce the commitment to marriage; and also a disbelief within society concerning battered women. In this last instance, many people are said to turn a “deaf ear” to marital violence, believing that what goes on behind “closed doors” is a private matter.

Convincing the woman that she is in danger, say experts, can be the most difficult aspect in combating domestic violence.

“Many battered women, having been systematically abused by our partners, perceive that there is no way out of the relationship,” said Lenore E. Walker, Ph.D., and considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on “battered women’s syndrome.” In 1979 she authored the book “The Battered Person” where she stated that there are distinct phases within an abusive relationship. “First, there is the tension-building phase, followed by the explosion or an acute battering incident, culminating in a calm, loving respite—often referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ phase.