For Better or for Worse; 'Till Death Do Us Part: The Fallacies About Abuse & Domestic Violence

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Mary was captain of the high school cheerleading squad and John was the star running back of the football team. They seemed destined to be with each other. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if they were soul mates. John always seemed to dote on Mary. He didn’t want anyone to talk to Mary and she believed that it was all about love. He would tease her every now and then by calling her names, even in front of others.

John and Mary completed high school and continued dating throughout college. On a few occasions, when Mary spoke up, John would slap her face, indicating to Mary that she "needed to remember her place." When she talked with other male friends, spent time with her female friends and family members, or did not give an account of her whereabouts, John expressed bouts of anger, but Mary thought they were instances of jealousy. However, John did not have to express the same level of accountability to Mary. He often yelled at her in front of others and embarrassed her. Mary truly believed his negative actions toward her were justified; she believed he loved her.

Shortly after completing college, with jobs and lucrative salaries under their belts, John and Mary married. Mary thought marriage would change John, but it did not. He became more abusive–verbally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically–and demanded that she stay home and not work. After their first child was born, John became angrier and more violent, and Mary often had to wear dark glasses to cover her blackened eyes and extra makeup to cover her facial and body scars. She also became estranged from family and friends and slumped into bouts of depression. Mary believed she had no one to turn to, nowhere to go, and that no other man would want her. These beliefs existed because John had drilled them into her mind and heart. He led her to believe that she was not worthy, no one would believe her stories of abuse and no other man could ever love her.

The scenario above is a true and accurate depiction of a woman living in an abusive and domestically violent situation. Mary relinquished her self–control in high school. Her self–esteem was eliminated at the same time.

Acts of verbal abuse, such as name–calling and yelling, are very common in abusive situations. Name–calling, yelling, personal and public embarrassment, humiliation, threats, isolation from family and friends are all forms of emotional and psychological abuse. Generally, what seem to be acts of jealousy are control mechanisms that are often put forth by the abuser in order to strip the abused female of her power. Once the abused female is in a powerless position, the perpetrator renders more abuse and more violence against her. Forcing her to stay home and not work fosters financial dependency on the perpetrator and renders him more powerful.

We often wonder why a woman stays in situations of abuse and violence. She often believes that she doesn’t have a choice in the matter and that she has nowhere to go. Also, during the cycle of abuse and violence, the perpetrator will apologize for his behaviors and use sex as a way to show that he is sorry, giving the abused woman a false sense of security. These acts of false affection are called "honeymoon" periods. The honeymoon period is another control tactic put forth by the perpetrator to continue the cycle of control, abuse and violence.

It is imperative that the abused woman seeks help in order for her to break the cycle of abuse and domestic violence, by speaking with a trusted family member or friend regarding her mistreatment and maltreatment by her domestic partner. Seeking a battered women’s shelter in her town or a professional psychotherapist, or contacting the national abuse/domestic violence hotline are always options.

Abused and battered women need to know that there is a way out of their negative situation and that they were born to grow, blossom and contribute favorably to society. They don’t have to relinquish their control to anyone. As a matter of fact, these women do have a choice in the matter!

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