How they control
It isn’t about physical violence; it is about gaining power and control.
- Intimidation: using looks, actions, gestures; throwing or breaking things; abusing pets; showing weapons
- Emotional abuse: put-downs, name-calling, playing mind games, humiliation, making other feel guilty
- Isolation: controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads and where she goes; not allowing her to talk to family and friends; using jealousy to justify actions
- Minimizing, denying and blaming: making light of the abuse, not taking her concerns seriously, saying the abuse didn’t happen, telling her she’s to blame
- Using children: threatening to take children away, relaying messages through the children, making her feel guilty about the children
- Male privilege: treating her like a servant, making all decisions, acting like “master of the castle”
- Economic abuse: preventing her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance
- Coercion and threats: making or carrying out threats, threatening to leave or commit suicide, making her drop criminal charges, making her do illegal things
Why they stay
The fear of the unknown can be greater than the fear faced by staying at home.
- She loves the abuser
- She thinks she can change the abuser
- Financial dependency on the abuser as she has been isolated from work, friends and family
- Abusers often make a woman feel like she won’t be loved by anyone else or that she deserves the abuse
- Sometimes she may have grown up in an abusive home and the abuse seems normal
- Abuser threatens to hurt or kill the victim’s children or family
The cycle of violence is a hard one to break. It both begins and ends with the “Honeymoon” stage where the abuser is sweet, helps around the house, may send flowers or cards. This behavior is a way to make up for violent behavior. Often, the abuser is afraid he will lose the victim. He’ll make promises to stay, go to counseling and to change.
The “Tension” stage occurs when the victim feels like she is walking on egg shells. There is no way for her to predict what the abuser wants or what to do to keep from the violence. There is not usually physical abuse during this stage but emotional abuse, coercion, threats and intimidation. The “Violence” stage often includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The cycle then begins again with a “Honeymoon” stage.