Recently a friend of mine, whose daughter had returned to an abusive relationship, asked me for some help. After returning home to a supportive family last year, my friend’s daughter had saved enough money to get an apartment and make a fresh start. So how did she end up back in the very same bad relationship she had so resolutely fled? She did so for what she felt were good and responsible reasons around affordable childcare, but it put her right back where she had been. And it happens all the time.
So, why do victims sometimes return to or stay with abusers? There are several reasons (nnedv.org):
- Abusers work very hard to keep victims in relationships and under their control.
- Fear of death or more abuse if they leave. A victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left.
- Batterers are very good at making victims think that the abuse is their fault. Victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it.
- Victims stay because they are made to think they cannot survive on their own, financially or otherwise. Often abusers create a financial situation that makes leaving nearly impossible.
- Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship.
- A survivor may return to the abuser because that’s the person she fell in love with, and she believes his promises to change. It’s not easy for anyone to let go of hopes and dreams.
And here are the facts (nnedv.org):
- Nearly one in every four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood.
- 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
- Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America, on average.
- Over 22 percent of women surveyed reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in their lifetime.
- Women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner averaged 6.9 physical assaults per year by the same partner.
- Approximately 37% of women seeking injury-related treatment in hospital emergency rooms were there because of injuries inflicted by a current or former spouse/partner.
Given this information, perhaps the best place to start to end domestic violence is prevention. So here is a list of red flags (nnedv.org). Get to know them. Look around. Be aware. And if you see this in your relationship or that of a loved one, take action.
Red Flags of Abuse (nnedv.org):
- Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
- Does not honor your boundaries.
- Is excessively jealous and accuses you of having affairs.
- Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails and texts you throughout the day.
- Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are "crazy," "stupid" and/or "fat," or that no one would ever want or love you.
- Says one thing and does another.
- Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.
- Has a history of battering.
- Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their partner; for example, "My ex was a total bitch."
- Grew up in an abusive or violent home.
- Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
- Seems "too good to be true."
- Insists that you stop participating in leisure interests.
- Rages out of control and is impulsive.
If you find yourself in a violent relationship, please call the Hope House hotline at 816.461.HOPE (4673) for help. If you feel the need to do more research before making that call, we recommend the following websites for more in-depth information about recognizing domestic violence, creating a safety plan, protecting your identity and getting help.