One of the most frequently asked questions surrounding Safehouse is “Why do people stay in abusive relationships?” The answers to that question are endless and some are very obvious. Try having no money, no transportation, no place to go and three kids, on the other hand you have a spouse that provides you and the children with food, shelter and clothing. So you get hit once in a while, no marriage is perfect.
In society we don’t run around asking, “If you don’t like your neighbors, why don’t you move?” “If you disagree with your boss, why don’t you just quit.” “If you don’t like the laws, why don’t you leave the country?” No, we don’t usually ask those questions, but we may ask, “What can we do to get along with the neighbors, your boss or how can we change the laws?” We should stop asking victims of domestic violence why they stay and offer them options on how to leave. Why should the brunt of ending domestic violence be laid upon the victim instead of the batterer? Maybe the most frequently asked question at Safehouse should be “Why do people batter?”
People who batter usually have low self-esteem stemming from growing up in an abusive home. Domestic violence is a learned behavior, at a young age these people are taught that it’s okay to hit a loved one to get your way and also may be taught that it’s okay to get hit. Batterers are also extremely jealous. They show their jealousy by isolating the victim from friends, family and anyone else that may lure them away from the batterer. The batterer slowly cuts down any self-esteem that the victim may have by insulting, blaming and physically harming them. Over time the victim believes that the abuse is their own fault and may alter their behavior to please the batterer, but it will never be good enough.
In the early abusive relationship the batterer will sincerely apologize for their behavior. The victim wants to believe them, but knows it will happen again. Soon the batterer will stop apologizing all together and it becomes a way of life. Most batterers are very charming people on the outside. They may be the life of the party, everyone likes the batterer and people may say, “That person couldn’t possibly hurt anyone.” Batterers are very convincing when they lie to friends and family about their home life, they lie even more convincingly to their victim.
Domestic violence is about power and control and it’s a choice made by the batterer. Batterers believe that they truly can’t live without the victim and they will go to great lengths to keep them. They may monitor the victim’s activities, threaten to hurt other loved ones or pets and even threaten to commit suicide if the victim does not submit to the batterer’s needs or wants. Domestic violence escalates over time and will not go away without some type of intervention. The batterer must want to change and want to learn why they abuse. In fact, most people killed by an abusive partner are killed when they leave or attempt to leave.
If you know someone in an abusive relationship, don’t ask them why they stay, ask them if they have a safe place to go when they are ready to leave. If they don’t, give them the Safehouse phone number: (252) 332-1933 or have them call the Ahoskie Police Department.