Over, and over, we either hear news of someone involved in an abusive relationship, or we know someone who is being abused by their partner. Typically, the first response is always, "Well, why didn't they leave?" Why, indeed....
** 1 out of 4 women will be involved in an abusive relationship
** 1 out of 33 men will be involved in an abusive relationship
** 1.3 millions women and 990,000 men are currently involved in an abusive relationship
** 25% of same-sex relationships are abusive and/or violent
** 47% of Emergency Room injury treatment for women are as a result of injuries sustained per domestic violence
** It is estimated that 10 million children witness acts of domestic violence and abuse in the U.S., annually
** 65% of "intimate homicide" victims are women who have left their violent partners
** 30% of high-school females have reported domestic violence or abuse
** Each day - every 24 hours - it is estimated that 4-7 women are murdered by their partners
** 76% of women over the age of 18 who reported rape or sexua| assault were victims of a former intimate parter (spouse, domestic partner)
** 1 out of 12 women, and 1 out of 45 men will be stalked during their lifetime by a former partner for an average duration of 2 years
** In 1995, it was estimated that 4.1 BILLION dollars in medical treatment to women were as a result of domestic violence and abuse - costs of property replacement, job loss, counseling therapy, and application for community resources are not factored into this estimate
With such staggering statistics, one would imagine that DV&A (domestic violence and abuse) would be a cycle that is being addressed with education, compassion, and harsh consequences for the offenders. But, sadly, this epidemic is growing at an exponential rate: one average family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children) carries the dynamics on to the next generation. A family dynamic of DV&A with an average size will produce an average of 38 individuals over 3 generations that will either be abusers, or victims.
"Why don't they just leave?" DV&A is still stigmatized to the point of ludicrosity, especially for same-sex relationships, and men who are abused by their female partners.
They dynamics of DV&A are so convoluted and subtle that victims often don't even realize that they're involved with an abuser until after a die is cast and they believe that they have no options available.
From my personal experiences with a violent abuser, this is a general "chronological" list of how I found myself to be a victim of domestic violence and abuse:
** Pity ploy: convey a series of tragic childhood experiences and subsequence catastrophes that were attributed to other people or entities
** Love bombing: creating the perception that I was valued and loved via verbal assurances, gifts, and the insistence that I was his "soul mate"
** Divide and conquer: find fault with friends and associates to isolate me from any network of support or help
** Marriage: a legal, binding contract
** Spiritual abuse: using religious and spiritual beliefs to support his demands that, "God says that a 'good wife' OBEYS her husband"
** sexua| abuse: integrating p 0 r n o g r a p h y and demaning, humiliating, painful, and objectifying sexua| demands with verbal ridicule when I refused to comply with his demands
** Producing children: to further cement the relationship while having objects to threaten harm against if I did not comply with demands
** Emotional abuse: degradation, humiliation, objectification, and blame for all things "wrong" in the marriage; reiteration that I was useless, sexless, unappealing, stupid, unemployed, unemployable, and unworthy of concern
** Financial abuse: insisting that I was unable to "afford" to work (daycare, sitters, etc.) and demanding an explanation of why I was unemployed; refusing to pay utilities and/or mortgage and/or medical expenses and/or groceries unless I obtained money from other sources or traded sexua| favors
** Threats of violence: murder and murder/suicide if I did not comply with demands; threats of harm against children if I did not comply; threats of harm against others if I did not comply
These dynamics did not develop in one week, one month, or one year. These dynamics developed gradually over a period of years. Always, there was a cycle of explosive abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, & financial), a term of shame on my part (I was blamed for the abuse due to non-compliance), empty promises (false hope) of changes, and a honeymoon period where I was showered with more love bombing and gift-giving. Then, the storm would develop, again, and the cycle would rotate, again.
By the time I left this relationshit, I was a shell of a human being and desperate. I was threatened that I would be hunted down and meet a "fitting end." And, I never recovered from that trauma until I began intensive counseling therapy.
Fear, shame, guilt, blame, and desperation are all hallmarks of a toxic relationship. The only course of action to take in such a relationship is to get out, and get out, quickly. No warnings, no threats - just OUT. And, if the dynamics are particularly violent, it is an IMPERATIVE that victims seek the assistance of domestic violence and abuse agencies. These agencies can develop exit strategies, safe haven, legal support, financial support, and (most important) support in emotional recovery so that victims do not find themselves jumping from the fire into the frying pan, so to speak.
If you believe that you may be involved in a situation of DV&A, please - understand this, clearly - it will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER "get better." Once an abuser, ALWAYS an abuser. If there are children involved, they are NO EXCUSE to remain - they will learn how to abuse and be victimized by watching the adults that they are under obligation to TRUST to teach them how to be adults.