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Domestic Violence

Women and Abusive Relationships

03/10/2006

Question:

Why do women stay in abusive relationships? I was wondering if you could give me some expert advice on this? Any information that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

Here is some information that I have found helpful in terms of  understanding "Why a Woman Stays". This information was taken from a document compiled by the staff of CHOICES located in Columbus, Ohio.

1. Fear: Probably the most understandable explanation, and one we often forget to mention, is fear. Battered women are trapped by fear and terror. Women often express the following:fear of being caught and the abuse getting worse, fear of being stalked and harassed, fear for the safety of family and friends, fear of the unknown, fear of being a single parent with minimal, or no job skill or experiences, fear that other relationships will be the same. Thinking that all relationships are abusive.

2. Women often cling to the belief that the abuser will change. Most batterers will continually promise to change their behavior. Some women report believing that they cause their partners to become abusive. Therefore, some women feel that if they change their behavior, their partner's behavior will change. Statistics reveal that this does not happen.

3. Responsibility: Society has traditionally placed the responsibility of marriage and family issues on women. When relationships become unsuccessful, women often feel responsible for the failure. Women are socialized to nurture. As a result, women often feel that their family needs to stay together. In addition, society still holds women responsible for their victimization. Lastly, some religions preach that women are to submit to their husbands.

4. Economics: Many women do not have the economic means to care for themselves. This issue is even more problematic if there are children involved. Most abusers keep total control over financial matters. Moreover, many women do not always have the job skills to gain employment. Without any money, finding alternative living arrangements is nearly impossible.

Hope you find this information helpful.

For more information:

Go to the Domestic Violence health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University