What is battering? Why do men batter? Why do women stay? These are all questions that I will answer. I will also offer insight into the minds of victims that may help give a better understanding to the devastating cycle that hides behind the doors of many homes today that is better known as Domestic Violence.
What is battering? Battering is a pattern of behavior that is used to establish power and control over another person. This control can be obtained through many different avenues. Minimizing, making light of the victims concerns, shifting responsibility and laying blame. Isolation, controlling what the victim does, reads and limiting outside involvement all together, even from family. Intimidation, causing the victim to feel afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions, such as demonstrating violence in her presence. Emotional Abuse, putting the victim down, calling her names, convincing and making her believe she’s crazy, humiliating, depriving her of sleep and playing mind games.
Why do men batter? Battering begins and continues because violence is an effective method for gaining and keeping control over another person. Batterer’s usually do not suffer consequences for their behavior, which encourages them to keep up their behavior. They get a sense of security when they have control that makes them feel better about themselves. Some of the characteristics of batterer’s include men that see women as property, they have low self- esteem, they don’t take blame for their behavior, and they appear to be very charming and often are seen as a “nice guy” to outsiders looking in. They often have traits such as extreme jealousy, possessiveness, unpredictable behavior and a bad temper.
“Why do women stay in violent relationships?” is generally answered with a victim-blaming attitude of abuse. They are often accused of having no character or they must like or need bad treatment, otherwise they would leave. Others may be told that they “love too much” or have “low self-esteem.” Common sense would probably have most rational people thinking in this way.
The truth is that no one enjoys being abused, no matter what kind of emotional state or self-image they may have. Some of the emotions that I experienced in this kind of relationship are isolation, paranoia, shame and embarrassment. As a victim of abuse, I, like many victims, didn’t realize that I was in an abusive relationship. My view of domestic violence, had I been asked seven years ago, would have been described with such things as black eyes, hidden bruises and violence in a home. I didn’t realize that such things as intimidation, threats, name calling, put downs and “silent-treatment” were abusive behaviors. I thought those things were present in my relationship and later, my marriage, because I was a bad wife. I was a bad mother. I didn’t know how to be in a relationship or how to love. I was convinced I was crazy. Like many other women, I never told anyone how I felt because of course, then everybody would know the secret that my husband and I held together – I really was crazy.
As with most abusive relationships, the emotional and verbal abuse turned to physical abuse. And like many other women, this was the turning point for me emotionally. I started to question my husband’s sanity and stability, rather than my own, to myself and later openly to him. This independence that I was exhibiting was a threat to his control and to my safety; which is one of the many reasons women do stay.
A woman’s reasons for staying are more complex than simply her strength of character. In many cases it is dangerous for a woman to leave her abuser. If the abuser has all of the economic and social status, leaving can cause additional problems for the woman such as losing financial support. The fear that over took my life was the fear of losing custody of my two children. One of the obstacles that stood in my way were the fact that I had no support from family, given that my husband was such a “nice guy”. I was judged and blamed for tearing my family apart because I was the one leaving our home. On