It's so easy to look at a woman in an abusive relationship and think "why doesn't she just leave?". Which one of us females has not thought that if a man was crazy enough to raise his hand to hit me, I'd leave him before he had the chance to make contact? Well, it's easy to say what we would do when we're on the outside looking in. But when you're actually in the situation, it's not so clear cut. Here is one of the more common reasons women stay in abusive relationships and why they shouldn't:
Trust me, he won't. And even if his behavior does seem to be less aggressive, it will be a temporary change. It's just a part of the Cycle of Abuse:
Stage 3 is Reconciliation, where the abuser appears to regret his actions and does whatever he can to regain your forgiveness and trust. He may buy you flowers, chocolates and other gifts, while apologizing profusely for what he did. He might make suggestions of ways to prevent it from happening again, which usually requires a change in your behavior, rather than his. For example, he might say something like, "If you would just make sure dinner is on time when I get home/the house is clean/the kids behave themselves, then I wouldn't lose my temper and hit you". Some abusers even attempt to downplay the severity of the Incident, or pretend like it never happened, causing confusion in the mind of the abused. She starts to think she may be overreacting to what happened...once the bruises start to fade and the cuts begin to heal, maybe what he did wasn't so bad after all.
However, despite his outward showing of remorse, often during the Reconciliation stage the abuser is fantasizing about the next "Incident". And so the cycle continues...
If this pattern of behavior sounds like your relationship or the relationship of someone you know, you (or they) are in a dangerous position and need to get out NOW. If you're not sure of how to make that happen, a quick google search can help you find resources in your area that can help you make an escape plan, as well as assist you in taking the first steps toward rebuilding your life once you make that move. A good starting place is the National Domestic Violence Hotline - (800) 799-SAFE. For my English friends, click here or call 0808 2000 247.
Next post coming soon: Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships...and Why They Shouldn't: #2 - "I Don't Want My Children to Grow Up Without Their Father".
Note: To make it easier on myself, I have referred to the abused in this post as a female and to the abuser as a male. However, there are many instances where the female is the abuser, as well as abuse that takes place in same sex relationships. That being said, everything I have written applies to all abusive relationships, regardless of the dynamics.