Suddenly out of nowhere while having a perfectly loving conversation, he hits her, hard on the face. She hits him back and then he gives it back even worse. I was watching this TV series Big Little Lies when the sudden blow received by Nicole Kidman from her husband character made me flinch. It was raw and totally unexpected as they are shown to share a very loving relationship. As the story unfolded, the violence gets worse. The story seemed unbelievable though unfortunately the statistics tell us that this is true of real-life situations as well.
Home violence/domestic abuse or abuse that women suffer at home is an ugly reality. I personally know of many ladies who suffer it quietly and put up a brave face to the world. It makes me wonder why. Of course, sitting in my position of privilege where I have a loving home, it is easy for me to feel judgmental or not try to fit into the shoes of abused women.
Based on domestic abuse survivor accounts here are 6 reasons why women put up with domestic violence:
Just like the TV series showed, shame is often the reason why women don’t come clean about domestic violence even with their closest friends or family members. The deep shame of what they go through and what it makes them feel about themselves that they put up with such behavior makes them try to brush it off to some remote part of their being trying to pretend that it never really happened. Think about it, that woman who always praises her husband and shared lovey dovey tales of marital bliss, how easily your respect for her would slip if you found out that actually she was being beaten and only shared lies.
Men are powerful. Men who hit their wives even more so. Their sudden rage episodes are unpredictable and a woman may feel in mortal fear for her life and that of her kids. Many abusers openly threaten their wives of the consequences which involve harming them and taking away their children.
3. Low self-worth
Abusers are manipulators. Over the years they systematically plant doubts about the woman’s own capabilities and behaviour. They make her feel that she is useless, that her behavior warrants, in fact, justifies the hitting. And this low self-worth makes her think that she deserves it and that life cannot really offer her anything better taking her down an abyss of more abuse.
4. For the sake of children:
As a couple when you have children, it is a culmination of a loving dream. The parents together raise kids. To rudely walk away from that dream is often especially difficult, more so for the woman. She tells herself that she is doing it for the sake of her children. That she needs to give them a loving home at least in the eyes of the world and them. But it is so untrue. Just like in the TV series, children pick the small cues. They know. They always know what is going on between their parents even behind closed doors and it affects their psyche, behavior and how they eventually turn out. They may even become perpetrators of violence.
As painful as it is, children do not need violence in their lives. Wish the women understood it sooner.
5. Clinging to the false hope that he will get better
Do abusers really get better? In my opinion, a man who raises his hand on his wife is the lowest scum of the earth. No provocation, no stress can every justify such obnoxious behavior. No matter how much he apologizes or tries to pin the blame on her for provoking him. Essentially these are sorry excuses. She could try counseling and see if it helps transform his behavior. Else, really it is a false hope and as I’ve read in many articles this abuse just worsens.
6. Has no family support/Is financially dependent on him
Women who give up careers, those that have no family support or those who don’t think that they can start all over again are even more vulnerable to putting up with abuse. Imagine leaving your husband and thinking of starting a job after decades of not working. The biggest fear is, however, not financial. It is that no one will believe them. That they will be the laughing stock of everyone around them.The man often has a great reputation and most people associated with him would just not believe that he is capable of doing something like this.
As much as it is a given that one does not hit one’s partner no matter how bad the provocation, mistake or circumstance, you will be surprised to know how many women are abused and put up with it. Domestic violence cases being filed for cruelty by husband and relatives are on the rise in India. Not sure if the domestic violence is on the rise or if more women are coming forward and reporting it. But still nowhere close to all cases are being reported.
As a woman, it makes me really sad that a loving and respectful relationship with their spouse is a pipe dream for many women. I have personally known women who have been survivors of domestic abuse and like many of you initially I just could not understand how they could live with a man like that. But having read many victim accounts, I have begun to understand how this exact victim blaming or isolation is what makes many of them stay in such relationships. I just hope that more women are sensitized to help out other women and enable them to get out of abusive relationships.
If you haven’t seen Big Little Lies, do watch it. It is raw and so human. And Nicole Kidman really brought domestic abuse back to conversations.