August 11, 2005
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.
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 ó 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.
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