Are You A Victim of Abuse?

You are being emotionally abused if someone:

Ignores your feelings

Withholds approval, appreciation of affection as punishment

Continually criticizes you, calls you names, shouts at you

Makes all decisions for you

Wants to control your actions

Humiliates you in public or private

Ridicules your most valued beliefs, religion, race or heritage

Subjects you to reckless driving

Destroys your valued objects or harms your pets

Controls who you see and talk to, where you go

Puts you in fear with a loud voice, threatening looks or gestures

Threatens to take the children, commit suicide, report you to welfare

Prevents you from getting or keeping a job

Takes your money

Controls all the money, requires you to ask for money, justify every dollar

Plays mind games, makes you think you are crazy

You are being physically abused if someone:

Pushes or shoves you

Slaps or hits you

Kicks or punches you

Restrains you with force

Chokes you

Throws objects at you

Abandons you in a dangerous place

Uses or threatens you with a weapon

You are being sexually abused if someone:

Makes demeaning remarks about your gender

Calls you sexual names

Forces you to take off your clothing

Touches you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable

Forces you to have sex against your will

Treats you and members of your gender as objects

Insists you dress in a more sexual way than you want to,

or insisists that you dress sexaully. (Latter depends on interpretation, religion or both partners, etc.)

Minimizes the importance of your feelings about sex

Accuses you of sexual activity with others, without reasonable cause

Discusses your sexuality with others

Someone who is not in a sexual relationship with you,

refers to your sexual parts, speaking to you or near you

Someone who is not in a sexual relationship with you, refers to your sexual parts in public.

Why She Stays

She loves him

She believes he'll grow up or change

She believes she can control the beatings by doing as he says, cleaning the house, keeping the children quiet, having dinner on time, etc.

She believes she can convince him that she loves him (and end his jealousy)

She believes it is her duty (not his) to make the relationship work

she believes she can reason with him

She's embarrassed for him and herself, so she seldom seeks help

She's afraid of what will happen if police get involved.

Her family cautions her to not mar the family name by causing a spectacle

Her religion tells her she can not leave him.

Later she stays because:

She loves him, but less

she hopes he'll change or get help

she's under pressure from family or friends to stay

she believes he loves and needs her

she's afraid to be alone

she believes she can't support herself

she believes his promises that he'll change and that they'll start living the life she dreams of,

that he'll get counseling, that he'll stop abusing drugs or alcohol, etc.

she is confused

she is increasingly afraid of her partner's violence and may see lethality in his out-of-control behaviors.

Finally, she stays because:

Fear: he has become tremendously powerful in her eyes

He threatens to kill her or the children or her family

He has killed a pet to impress her

He has convinced her that she makes him do it, and he can not help himself

She has developed low self esteem

She believes no one else can love her

She believes she can['t survive alone

She is very confused and feels guilty-- "He cares, he beats me, I must be bad, I must deserve this, and I don't know why."

She becomes depressed and immobile. Decisions are difficult, sometimes impossible for her to make.

She believes she has no control over her life

She feels hopeless and helpless

She believes she has no options

She has developed serious emotional or physical problems

She becomes suicidal or homicidal

Why He Stays

It's good to be the dictator

Violence works

No one knows about this (bought a house in the country.)

My neighbors still like me

Cases get dismissed

Not held accountable

Not properly charged

No VPO or restraining order issued (VPO -- Victim's Protective Order)

Low bond

It's the victim's fault

Another view --

She should have left

Community does not condemn violence

Neighbors, friends, family, others do not offer support for her situation

Characteristics of Batterers--

Following are behaviors, characteristics and attitudes exhibited by battererss:

Batterers have low self worth

Batterers have difficulty trusting people

Batterers have a belief that emotional distress is caused by external factors

Batterers exhibit a lack of ability to nurture other people

Batterers strive to be the "perfect male." (a real man.)

Batterers fear loss of control (of others.)

Batterers are out of touch with feelings other than anger.

Batterers are not assertive and hold in emotions.

Batterers appear to have dual personalities.

Batterers are often extremely jealous and possessive.

Batterers are rigid.

Batterers blame and are not able to assume responsibility for their actions.

Batters sometimes dislike and avoid conflict. They may keep quiet about their complaints, and simmer in silence until they blow up.

Batterers sometimes drink to give themselves an excuse for blowing up.

Batterers are unable to handle stress in constructive ways.

Batterers are socially isolated.

Battering men come from all ages, ethnic and educational backgrounds.

Batterers often have conflicts with their spouses over parenting.

Batterers are often traditionalists, believing in male supremacy and stereotypical male and female roles.

Batterers report a high incidence of alcohol or drug abuse in their families of origin.

Many batterers witnessed violence between their parents or were victims of child abuse.

Batterers often have unrealistic expectations of marriage, believing it will provide permanence and security.

Batterers believe the success of their marriage is the responsibility of their partner -- if it doesn't work, it's her fault

Batterers respond with less attention to relevant social cues.

Batterers over-attribute hostile behavior to others.

Batterers make up cues that did not happen.

Batterers often blame their victim for their hostile behavior. "I wouldn't have done that if you..."

Batterers sometimes claim to have been out of control, but still justify their violence when in a calm mood.

Batterers often continue their violent behavior, no matter how perfect the spouse tries to be.


Therapist's comment: Sometimes I ask a wife who believes this -- "If he is upset with his sergeant, does he hit the sergeant? Does he curse him out? If a policeman gives him a ticket, does he hit the policeman? Then, he can control himself when he wants to."

Myths About Domestic Violence

1. "Battered women are always from lower socioeconomic groups."

Domestic violence is primarily reported in lower socioeconomic groups because they utilize emergency facilities. The public facilities report such incidents, whereas private practices do not. Most studies, however, show that the condition occurs in all groups, regardless of race, religion, or socioeeconomic category.

2. "Battered women must enjoy the abuse: otherwise, they would take the children and leave."

All studies have shown that battered women are not masochists. The reason for their remaining in an abusive relationship are complex and multiple, but their lives in the battering situation are chaotic, frightening and violent.

In some cases, the husband has effectively convinced her that if she left him, he would find her and kill her. In other cases, he has convinced her that he would use his financial resources to take the children from her. In other cases, she is convinced she could not make a living, and would starve without him.

In some cases, he has convinced her that it will not happen again, or that he would not have done it if she had not provoked him. Some women just hope that things will get better in the future, or believe that they can somehow change their husband. A woman typically leaves a batter nine times, before she leaves him for good.

A temporary solution is to find a women's shelter. They can be found in the yellow pages under "womens' shelters, and generally have a 30-day stay limit. They can provide counseling for her next steps, including job training, employment possibilities, and housing possibilities. They may also make referrals to a lawyer or other professional.

3. "A woman who gets beaten probably provoked her partner."

The victim of abuse may believe that she deserves the battering at various periods in the relationship. The violence, however, resides within the batterer. A woman may accept responsibility for the violence as an attempt to maintain some control over the situation. Believing that something in her actions may allow her to control the batterer and thereby prevent a future incident misleads her into a false sense of security.

Quite often the batterer convinces his partner that she makes him do it. Still, she will be able to see that when he gets a ticket from a policemen, he doesn't hit the policeman. If he is in the military and gets angry with his superiors, he does not hit the captain. In fact, he is able to control himself when he chooses to.

4. "The battered woman who is serious about solving the problem could have the batterer arrested and put in jail."

Women will not routinely resort to arrest to control the batterer for a variety of reasons, including loss of income, fear that the batterer will inflict more severe punishment after he is released, and the realization that the court system will probably play down her accusations and perhaps release the batterer within a short time.

This perception has validity in light of the fact that most jurisdictions and law enforcement officers minimize the significance of domestic violence, whereas similar episodes of violence between unrelated individuals are not treated lightly. In Oklahoma the law states that if there is evidence of violence somebody must be arrested. In reality, they often do not do that, and if the situation seems to have calmed down, they may just leave the scene.

5. "If a battered woman remarries, she usually chooses another violent man."

Data show that a number of abused women remain single after leaving an abusive relationship. Many who do marry make a conscious effort not to marry a batterer, and frequently find men who are not violent.

There are a few women who see battering as normal, because they saw their mothers battered, and were abused themselves as children. Some other women may gravitate toward abusers, because they see themselves as unworthy. If a man with positive attributes approaches them, they may avoid him because they feel "less" than him.

If she is approached by a man with lesser qualities, she may go out with him because she does not feel worthy. She may see that he drinks too much, is rude to her, or is a womanizer, and may overlook this with the view that he is the best she can do.

There are some women who stay because they believe it is their Christian duty. So long as they strongly believe that they have a Christian obligation to stay, they remain locked into the situation, no matter how abusive it may get.