Now isn’t that a tricky question? I mean, what sane person would continue to be with someone who abuses them?
If you have never been in an abusive relationship, this seems like the simple answer. But then again, shouldn’t the question be, “Why does the other person have the right to abuse?”
There are many reasons a person stays. They are as varied and complex as the people involved. Here are some of the reasons:
1. Love: The abuser is still the person the victim loves. The abuser has times when he/she is VERY charming. One victim stated “I kept thinking that this time when things were good, surely he would like our life together in this good time so much that he would not want to bring on the bad times again. He promised me he would change.” Maybe the abuser will change…at least that’s the victim’s hope.
2. Society/Religion : The victim feels she/he made a committment before God to this relationship. Or the abusive person appears so different to the outside world that the victim feels no one would believe the monster the abuser can be.
3. Isolation: Gradually, the abuser takes steps to keep the victim from other people. Maybe the victim can’t have anything to do with family or friends, isn’t allowed to work or attend activities, or can’t have telephone conversations. There have even been instances of victims being imprisoned in their own homes.
4. Fear: Fear of retaliation if he/she leaves. Threats may have been made against the victim, children, or the victim’s family and friends. Victims have a 75% greater risk of being murdered by their partner during or after they leave the relationship.
5. Financial Limitations: The victim may have limited financial resources…no job, low-paying work, fear of homelessness, etc.
6. Fear of Losing Children: The victim may have been led to believe she/he won’t be able to keep their children.
7. Pets: The victim may not be able to take a pet they love. She/he doesn’t want to leave the pet alone with the abuser, in fear of the pet then being abused.
8. Lack of Self Esteem People with self-esteem issues may feel they don’t have what it takes to make it on their own. They may feel they deserve what happens to them. They may have been told by the abuser that no one else would ever want them.
As you can see, the reasons are varied. It’s difficult for many people to leave the perceived safety of what they know for the unknown. Victims don’t need to be re-victimized by those who think they should just leave. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.
Domestic violence takes many forms: physical, mental, emotional, financial, sexual, etc. One thing all these forms have in common is that they affect not only the abused partner but also the children. Domestic violence is sometimes called “Family Violence” . Children who witness acts of violence are at much greater risk of emotional and behavioral problems than other children. Estimates indicate there are over 4 million children exposed to physical and verbal partner abuse each year in the U.S. Exposure means seeing or hearing the actual abuse or dealing with the aftermath of the abuse. It should also be noted that children in these families are also at much greater risk of being abused themselves.
The effects on children in families with domestic violence can be short-term or/and long-term. It is a traumatic and terrifying experience for children. Some of the short and long-term effects are listed here. Children will react in different ways. Some children are extremely resilient while others show severe signs of stress.
Short Term Effects
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping
- Illnesses caused by stress such as headaches, stomach problems, flu and asthma
- Aggressive or destructive behavior
- Cruelty to animals
- Becoming increasingly anxious or fearful
- Social withdrawal
- Blaming themselves for the abuse
- Poor school performance
Long Term Effects
- Allowing future victimization of themselves
- Drug and alcohol dependence
- Behaving in abusive ways in adult relationships
- Teenage pregnancy
- Low self-esteem
- Post traumatic stress disorder
Some ways to help a child victim of domestic abuse are: reassure the child that the incidents are not their fault, obtain counseling for family victims, show them love, protect them by moving them to a place of safety, and be a good role model.
Seeking help to take action against the abuse shows your child that it is not acceptable to treat people in that manner or be treated that way.
Do you need guidance? Call your local shelter/domestic violence agency.
We now have an official volunteer coordinator on staff. Her name is Jessica and she would love to hear from you. Please consider volunteering. Give her a call at 906-774-1337.
Our child/teen advocate, Tara, is busy working with youth and we are so happy she is with us. She’s brought a new and fresh perspective to the position. Even if you aren’t sure about your child coming in to see her, you are welcome to bring your concerns to her. Call 906-774-1337.
Caring House has hired a new child/teen advocate. Her name is Tara. She is currently undergoing training but is already easing into her job. She is planning on holding her first teen group within the next week or so. Tara also has presentations planned for schools and community events. She will be making individual appointments soon.
Tara is excited to be with us and we feel she will be a wonderful addition to our staff. Her background includes a Bachelor’s degree in working with youth. She has also worked with troubled teens and children.