Sometimes people wonder why women stay in abusive relationships. It seems to be very simple for us to reason that if you are being hurt emotionally, physically or sexually you should get out of that relationship. However it is not so easy for the person who is actually experiencing the abuse.
Most abusive relationships don’t start out that way, but they have a way of evolving into them. As a former nurse, I saw lots of women come into the emergency department with obvious signs of abuse. Some women were honest about it, but some were very protective of their abusers.
Some of the women are married and some are in relationships with their abusive boyfriends. I’ve heard them say over and over again that “he didn’t mean to hurt me”, or “I just seem to do or say the wrong things and he gets mad.” These women make excuses for the men in their lives who hurt them because of hopelessness and fear. They live on pins and needles their whole lives trying not to upset the balance, so their men won’t go off on them.
As I was tending to one of my patients that was to be admitted to the hospital for her injuries, I asked her what attracted her to her husband in the first place. She said she was excited by his “bad-boy” ways, when they were teenagers. “I liked the bad-boy image, I felt like I belonged to him.” She went on to talk about how after they married and had children that the stresses of everyday life wore thin on his patience. She talked how he started yelling, calling her names. Then she said how his attacks became physical with pushing and shoving as time wore on.
Many times women follow a certain pattern in their lives when it comes to relationships. It seems that they repeat the same pattern with each new relationship. It is really the same relationship, just a different partner. Many of us who don’t have this dynamic in our lives wonder how someone justifies this behavior as being ok.
It’s never ok for a woman to be abused. There is help out there. If she is in immediate danger she should dial 911. She may not be able to get to the phone just as the abuse is happening, but she should get out as soon as she can. She is most at risk if she has gotten the law involved and then she returns to him because she feels she has no other choices.
There are safe houses in place in most communities that shelter abused women and their children. When you call 911 you can get the help started. If you go through your local department of family and children’s services, they can get you placed to a safe house.
If you are being abused, I would suggest that you leave immediately and sort it all out later with the help of professionals. Many women have the hope that they can change the abuser if they just stop doing things or saying things to set him off, but this is wrong thinking. Your first obligation is to yourself and your children, if you have any.