Is someone you know in an abusive relationship? Do you ever wonder how they stay in a relationship with someone who might hit them, push them, call them names, or threaten their life? The chances you will answer yes to both these questions is very high. Studies have found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be physically abused by their romantic partner. These numbers indicate that you probably know someone in an abusive relationship. Therefore you will naturally ask yourself why are they still in this relationship, why don’t they just leave? The answer to your question is that domestic violence does not happen overnight. Actually it is quite the opposite. Very commonly, a victim will say when they first met their partner they thought they were the luckiest person on this planet. They describe that the abuser seemed to be the perfect partner. Therefore, they begin to really trust this person. Overtime, there will be small changes, the abuser starts to make comments about how the victim dresses or starts to say that their friends are not “good friends”.
Overtime and gradually, the person the abuser may become more and more controlling. They may want to know where you are at all times or they might put a GPS on your phone or car. When you ask the abuser why they will say “for your protection”. At the time while your partner is still caring and loving he or she might say things that make you doubt yourself, that make you questions if you are good enough. As time goes on, things will intensify and tension will build until one day, it happens, your partner becomes aggressive enough to push you, hit you, throw objects at you, threatens your life, or threatens to take your kids away. At this point you may be in shock, how did this happen? Where is that person who was so sweet and caring? You might ask yourself did I do something wrong? What you may not realize at this point is that your partner has been manipulating you and breaking you down so much that you feel responsible for the abuse. The manipulation doesn’t end there after the abuse takes place you might get deep apologies and promises of getting help and things might get better for a while, but then it happens again like a cycle. The part of domestic violence that gets forgotten is that it is not just about the abuse but also about the psychological mind games that come with it. If it was just that easy to leave, it wouldn’t be so common. So I leave you with a reframe, it is not about why you stay or don’t leave, the real question is, why does the abuser abuse?