In the last post, we learned about Hank. This time we will learn about Dawn. Before Dawn sported the hero apparel, she was an accomplished Ballerina. In fact, she was able to perform a dance, when mother came over to visit her from England.
As she catching up with her mom, Marie Granger, she found out her dad was still being abusive to her. Each time Dawn tried to talk about her getting away from him, her mom made an excuse like how he wasn’t as bad as he was in the past and that he is “trying to change”. What Dawn’s mother is experiencing is called “Intimate Partner Violence”. Intimate Partner Violence or IPV describes physical sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.
IPV doesn’t just affect women, it also affects men too. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) about 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 7 adult men revealing having had experience some form of physical violence from their intimate partner in their lifetime. So, if Dawn’s mom knows he’s abusive why did she make an excuse for him? It’s easy to say, how you would have done better, but it’s not that simple.
There are emotional and situational reason why victims like Dawn’s mom would stay with their abuser.
Emotional Factors include
- Belief that the abusive partner will change because of his remorse and promises to stop battering
- Fear of the abuser who threatens to kill the victim if abuse is reported to anyone
- Lack of emotional support
- Guilt over the failure of the relationship
- Attachment to the partner
- Fear of making major life changes
- Feeling responsible for the abuse
- Feeling helpless, hopeless and trapped
- Belief that she is the only one who can help the abuser with his problems
Then there is also the situation factors
- Economic dependence on the abuser
- Fear of physical harm to self or children
- Fear of emotional damage to the children over the loss of a parent, even if that parent is abusive
- Fear of losing custody of the children because the abuser threatens to take the children if victim tries to leave
- Lack of job skills
- Social isolation and lack of support because abuser is often the victim’s only support system
- Lack of information regarding domestic violence resources
- belief that law enforcement will not take her seriously
- Lack of alternative housing
- Cultural or religious constraints
From what it sounds like to me, Dawn’s mom believes that her husband will “change” and will stop abusing her. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen. From what I remember, she never mentioned, for example, admitting how he has hurt her or stopped making excuses and blaming…nothing. To be honest, I was hoping she wouldn’t return to him, but unfortunately, it seemed like she already made up her mind to return.
I remember feeling disappointed when my mom returned to my dad once a long time ago…like Dawn, it was hard to see my mom go back with my dad. I felt like mom deserved a better life than to return with my dad. He never stopped making excuses and blaming, he never took responsibility of his behavior, he never showed respectful, kind, and supportive behavior….nothing. It hurt me to see my mom not just hurt physically, but emotionally as well.
So how can you help a loved one who is undergoing domestic abuse? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, loved ones should:
- Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation, be supportive and listen
- Be non-judgmental
- If they end the relationship, continue to be supportive of them
- Encourage them to participate in activities in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family
- Help them develop a safety plan
- Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance
- Remember that you cannot “rescue” them.
I provide this knowledge, because domestic violence isn’t easy to see or experience and I understand how it’s easy to become judgmental towards someone, especially if it is someone you love, because you can’t understand why they would continue to put themselves in an abusive relationship. All you can do is love them and be there for them when they need it.
Center for Disease Control. (2018).Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html
Domestic Violence Roundtable. (n.d.) Why Do Abusers Stay? Retrieved from: https://www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/abuse-victims-stay.html
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (n.d.) Help a Friend or Family Member. Retrieved from: https://www.thehotline.org/help/help-for-friends-and-family/