Why Battered Women Stay

I know someone who sits in her car at home and “talks herself into” going through the front door of the place she sleeps. She does not call it home. She cut bangs to cover the constant bruises from being head-butted. She started wearing long sleeves in the summer to hide the bruises from his fingers when he grabs her arms and shakes her. He admits that if he behaved toward others the way he does with her: someone would call the police.

He tells her that he is unhappy and it is all her fault.  He says he doesn’t lie to anyone else and has never wanted to hurt anyone like he wants to hurt her.He tells her that she drove him into the arms of other women and then gives her details of his affairs. He says she is fat and ugly, unloved and not loveable. He has started introducing the children to the other women he is dating and tells the kids to lie about it. He has begun scheduling dates in the middle of the day and taking their baby with him. He says that it is okay because anyone else would be a better mother than she is. He tells her that she “trapped him” by having the baby and she was using him for physical pleasure so the baby is her fault. Because her birth control failed, this is all her fault and she should pay for the child and child care on her own.

To be honest, she does not take this lightly. She stands up for herself, in private and in public and calls him on his actions. For this, she is called a toxic b*tch and told she is crazy, and anyone she tells will take this as proof that she has lost her mind.

Who would believe her?  This man is smart, has a degree from a prestigious university and is well-respected in their community. He seems mild-mannered in public, is a perfect guest at dinner parties, and always gives a thoughtful gift. He has bought her family nice gifts and bonded with her parents.

So why does she stay?  The following are some of the reasons posted by The Los Angeles Police Department:

Situational Factors

  • Economic dependence
  • Fear of greater physical danger to self and children if they attempt to leave
  • Fear of emotional damage to the children something about a 6-year-old crying all night in your arms and begging you not to leave makes it hard to go
  • Fear of losing custody of the children
  • Lack of alternative housing
  • Lack of jobs skills
  • Social isolation resulting in lack of support from family or friends and lack of information regarding alternatives
  • Fear of involvement in court processes
  • Cultural and religious constraints
  • The victim loves the batterer… the batterer is not always violent.
  • The victim fears the batterer, believing the batterer to be almost “godlike.” Often threats are made against the victim, for example, the batterer will kill the victim if the beatings are reported to anyone. Police, in the victim’s eyes, offer no long-term protection from the batterer.
  • Even if it is a neighbor who reports, the batterer may take it out on the victim. Often when the police come, the victim will not admit the battering.
  • The victim may be economically dependent on the batterer and, not having a marketable job skill, the victim has no realistic alternative to the batterer’s financial support.
  • Socialization creates a powerful inertia in relationships, people feel they must stay in a relationship and are highly resistant to change as a means of problem solving.
  • Socialization and/or religious or cultural beliefs demand that the victim maintain the facade of a good marriage.
  • Often the batterer is the victim’s only psychological support system, having systematically destroyed the victim’s other friendships. Other people also feel uncomfortable around violence and withdraw from it.
  • Learned helplessness. The victim has been taught and believes to be powerless, and therefore views the situation from that perspective.
  • Often the victims stays for the sake of the children “needing a father,” or the batterer may make threats of violence against the children if the victim tries to leave. The batterer frequently threatens to take the children away from the victim if the victim leaves, and the victim believes the batterer. Or threatens to put them in foster care and have her declared unfit
  • The victim believes law enforcement and judicial authorities in some jurisdictions may not take domestic violence seriously, hence the victim believes the batterer is often not punished or removed from the victim. Yet any attempts by the victim to consult authorities are seen as a threat by the batterer and he/she may beat the victim for that.
  • Sometimes the batterer is otherwise well respected or mild mannered, so the victim’s concerns are not taken seriously. Often the batterer is violent only with the victim and frequently concludes there is something wrong with the victim.
  • The victim may rationalize the beatings, believing that the victim must have “deserved” the “punishment” or that the batterer was just “too drunk” to know what the batterer was doing (beliefs the batterer propagates).
  • The victim may have no idea that services are available and may feel trapped.
  • The battering takes place during a relatively short period of time. Afterwards the batterer may be quite gentle, apologetic, loving, and may promise never to beat the victim again.
  • The victim may be convinced that this beating will be the last.
  • The victim may have lived in a home in which one parent beat the other and/or the children and sees violence as an inevitable part of the way in which couples relate.
  • Often a battered person, motivated by pity and compassion, is convinced that the victim alone can help the batterer with the “problem” (whether it is drinking, “pressure from the outside world”, “victim’s mistakes”, etc).

3 thoughts on “Why Battered Women Stay

  1. I should have stayed. I should have given my ex alcohol until he passed out or just put sleeping pills in his drink so he would pass out and leave me alone… if I had I wouldn’t have had to suffer through Turning Point HELL.

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