Women are constantly on high-alert for signs of violence in their workplace or on the street, but often times this abuse hits closer to home. The last place we want to look is in the eyes of someone we love. Unfortunately, however, one out of every four women will experience domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.
We’ve heard the statistics and we might even know someone who’s been in an abusive relationship, but we still never think it will happen to us. Even if it did, we tell ourselves that we would know better and that we could simply walk away.
Nobody could possibly know what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship until you are in one. You start off dating someone who seems nice and caring at first, but then suddenly turns ugly. By that point, however, you’re already in too deep. You have already fallen in love with that person, and struggle to accept that they aren’t the person you thought they were. You give them the benefit of the doubt and another chance. This one chance turns into a hundred chances, and suddenly you can’t get out of the vicious cycle.
Why is it so difficult for women to just walk away from domestic violence? Why do we not have enough respect for ourselves to see what it is we deserve in a relationship? Why are we willing to settle for something unhealthy and so scared of finding someone new?
First of all, society looks down on women who stay in abusive relationships and pities them for being “helpless” and “weak.” Domestic violence victims can’t be categorized into a stereotype, but range among all types of women. Yet society places a specific insecure, weak, vulnerable woman into the category of most likely to be in an abusive relationship.
Rather than ridicule or punish the man who commits the abuse, this wrong perception will fault the woman for putting up with it because she possesses these negative traits. Women are taught that it is our personality traits that got us into this problem, and therefore we feel we must solve it.
As a result, women are quick to blame themselves for why our significant other is acting so violently. We angered them, we upset them, we pushed their buttons — but none of this is true. It shouldn’t matter what you do or how you live your life, it is the man’s choice to react in a violent or physical way.
As little girls growing up, we learn fast to always be aware and to always be afraid. Girls are told to dress and act a certain way so as not to upset men, yet boys are not lectured on how to react when angry or treat women respectfully. A man’s anger is equal to his power, try and diminish it and you risk emasculating him. It is this gender stereotype that makes it easy for women to receive the blame for abusive relationships instead of the man.
“We accept the love we think we deserve” is I think one of the truest quotes about love out there. As stated above, women are always told that it is their fault for upsetting the man or dressing in a way that provokes him. Therefore, we believe that we deserve what happens to us. We chose to date this person, so naturally we deserve the consequences of that choice whether good or bad. This acceptance is entirely backwards.
You often don’t choose who you fall in love with, and you definitely don’t choose who hurts you. What you do choose is how you respond to it. Rather than believing you did something to deserve being called a nasty name or slapped across the face, believe your gut that tells you those actions were wrong. If it’s one thing women have that men don’t, it’s a killer instinct that never leads us wrong.
Women look for a loving relationship, not an abusive relationship. Therefore, it isn’t fair to say that it’s the woman’s fault for sticking herself in an unhealthy relationship. The search for love is not easy, and neither is opening up to someone or letting them in.
I know from personal experience that if you fall in love once, you generally don’t have a desire to do it again. You convince yourself that this person is the one and no matter what goes wrong, you’re going to stay right where you are. When things do go wrong, your first instinct isn’t to give up or leave, but to stick it out. Consequently, you end up settling and sinking yourself deeper into the mud.
Additionally, women tend to convince themselves that they can’t do better or they won’t find someone else to love them. We are overly aware of our faults and weird habits, so the thought of finding another person to accept us again seems scary or impossible. Our chances of finding love again seem slim, but while we’re too busy analyzing our imperfections, someone else is busy admiring our best traits.
Women might be victims of domestic violence, but that doesn’t mean we should be victimized, pitied or blamed. There are multiple other explanations for why some women stay in abusive relationships, but these explanations don’t involve them possessing weak traits or not having a brain. The last thing women in these relationships need is more criticism and judgement. What women need instead is understanding and support.