Pinings ó Abusive Relationships


By Sherry Hughes

Dear Sherry,

There have been a couple of letters lately about abusive relationships. I was taught when I was young that you never let anyone lay a hand on you. I just donít get why these women donít leave. I know thatís a question that people ask all the time Ö but I really donít understand what would make anyone stay with someone who would hit.

- Barri

Dear Barri,

I think itís safe to say that most women who have been hit have said the same thing you just said. It is obviously different when you find yourself in those situations.

I did some volunteering for an organization that helped women out of these relationships. One thing to remember is that most women arenít hit or verbally abused on the first date. Clearly, weíd all leave after that. Itís a slow progression. Often, by the time the abuse escalates, the victim is enmeshed in the relationship. She might own a home with her abuser, she might have children with him, she may be financially dependent on him. And obviously, sheís emotionally invested. All of those factors make it more difficult to leave.

Another reason why women might not leave the abusive relationship is that the nature of these relationships tends to be cyclical. A violent incident happens, then things calm down. The relationship feels safe again and it feels like there is hope that things will improve. Just like a ferris wheel, the ride goes up and then down Ė then up again. The victim usually gets just enough of the good stuff to stay and believe that things will change. Without some kind of intervention (police, therapy, etc.), things rarely change.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Contact her via e-mail at


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