Shattered Love-Broken Lives
RACS, Susan speaking.
For some, hopefully, this call is alien to them. For others it is not. Domestic violence becomes an everyday part of their life. The broken bones and bruises may heal but the true damage to a victim of domestic violence will last a lifetime. Because the abuser is so manipulative there are usually characteristics that emerge such as low self esteem, traditional beliefs, psychological and physiological problems and complaints, minimizing the abuse and feelings that she deserves the punishment she receives.
Battered women typically underestimate their abilities. The batterer constantly tells her she is incompetent and unstable to function on her own. Women often define themselves by their success or failure as a wife/partner or mother, and when things are not well at home, even if they are at their job or in other areas of their lives, their self esteem is adversely affected. A battered woman assumes she is responsible for her man s behavior. She starts thinking that society will see her as the problem. If she would change her behaviors he would change, for example if she could stop making mistakes and do things right, his behavior would improve.
Typically, whether a battered woman feels that her role in a relationship is to nurture the man, or to maintain the household and take care of the relationship, his violence almost always shows her that these traditional ideas of behavior keep her safer than more liberated forms of behavior.
She may keep working out of economic necessity. It may be the only respite from her husband s constant watching of her. Sometimes she may give her job up, either willingly or unwillingly thinking that if she gives it up it will give her partner some security and make him happier. The batterer usually controls all finances and decides how it will be spent.
Battered women often suffer from a variety of minor ailments such as fatigue, restlessness, sleep problems and headaches. They often complain of depression, anxiety, and are almost always suspicious and secretive. The suspiciousness resulting in secretiveness helps battered women cope with the violence by increasing their perception of control over their own lives. This helps them avoid some beatings and even sometimes give them a few moments of privacy from their batterer. The manipulative behavior which results does help protect many women from more serious injury.
A woman who is battered tends to minimize, even deny, the amount and intensity of the violence that is directed at them. The human mind is only capable of taking a certain amount of trauma and when it is pushed beyond those limits memories of the repeated trauma may become repressed and forgotten. Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that refuses to believe that something unbelievable has occurred. This becomes an unconscious protector for the battered woman. When the woman can reduce the seriousness and danger of the abuse, it becomes a defense protecting her by reducing her constant level of fear.
A majority of women are programmed to believe that it is their responsibility to keep their partner happy and to keep their relationship together. Because of this, women start believing it is their fault because they cannot fix what is wrong. Each time they feel the injustice of their situation, or do something he thinks is wrong they are left with more guilt. They try so hard to improve causing them to believe the batterer when he says what he is doing is discipline – teaching her a lesson. Women who have heard this from their parents while growing up, are even more likely to believe the batter.
All of these emotions and the treatment they have received crush the stength a woman may have mustered to get out of an abusive situation. Her strength alone can only take her so far. After that she will need help form others. Battered womaen do leave theri abusers.