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Domestic Violence

Confronting Someone in An Abusive Relationship

07/09/2007

Question:

I`ve recently started seeing a girl who is in a, long term abusive relationship. Her parents know about it but yet they do nothing about it. So she has been with her boyfriend for 5 years and, he doesn't hit her everyday but he does hit her, and as of a few weeks ago he tried to rape her. He controls her to the point where he calls her every 5 minutes when she goes out to check up on her, and he tells her where she can and cant go in her own car. We have been seeing each other for a few months now and she has started to tell me she loves me and she would choose me over him any day and she is only with him for "financial" reasons, but I think she might love him a little more than she is telling me. I`ve tried to get her to call the cops but she won't, and her father stays with them so he knows what's going on so she can't go live with her parents. I want to help her but i`m not financially stable enough right now either. But I don't want her to end up marrying him and living a life of abuse and control.

Answer:

I think you have identified many important elements of a battered woman and the battering cycle. Her circumstances sound "entrapping." I think you are smart to be mindful of what you could inherit if significant changes do not occur before you say "I do." Perhaps gently educating her about intimate partner violence may prove helpful. I think the more victims know and come to understand the dynamics of domestic violence, the easier it may be for them to make the decision to leave the situation. I also wonder what it is like for her to have everyone in her life tell her what she should or should not being doing. Even though you are trying to help her, possibly save her life, it may seem like yet another person telling her what to do. Oftentimes when victims find out that there are resources available in their community to help them with this issue, they are more likely to leave abusive situations. So, I would provide her with resources and materials that address the issue of domestic violence, inform her of community-based programs that focus specifically on this issue, and continue to provide her emotional support.

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Response by:

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