He said, “When we love, we love hard. And it’s good, real good – normally. Then there is this rage thing that comes over her and she just goes off. After that she’s always apologetic. I’m a dude, I can handle it. But….I don’t get it, so I try not to get her started.”
Those words have an eerie resound as they sound all too familiar to people who have escaped domestic violence whether male or female. They also sound familiar to those still caught up in the cycle that continues generation after generation. According to the Dr. Lenore Walker’s Cycle of Violence Theory, the pattern is broken down into 3 phases.
- Tension Building (problems & emotional state begin to take a toll),
- Acute Battering Episode (tension peaks and violence begins)
- The Honeymoon Phase (abuser is ashamed, shows remorse, even tries to blame victim, becomes loving).
Many wonder why people get caught up in this cycle. They think it’s easy to get out or never get into it at all. They ask things like – why don’t they just leave? Psychologists continue to theorize, money is spent on research, programs are put in place but people still get caught up in the cycle of domestic violence. The remaining question is always – why?
I wouldn’t dare pretend I was a doctor or even a psychologist but I am a domestic violence survivor. From my perspective, what I wanted from my relationship like so many before and after me was love and acceptance. No matter how beautiful we are, intelligent we are, or how much money we have, we all have an innate desire to want those two things. That even goes for the abuser. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs speaks to belonging as being part of the 5 basic needs we have as humans.
Even still, what makes us tolerate mistreatment? How do we rationalize it? Some ways we process these issues are by thinking:
- I can’t let my family or friends be right about my decision-making skills AGAIN
- This never happened before, I’m sure it won’t happen again
- I can control this – by admitting anything else it would leave us feeling inferior and rejected
- If I just hadn’t said or did….. many times the victim’s self-esteem is so low they really own it when the abuser tells them they provoked the abuse
Like with anything else, domestic violence can be addictive. Look at the most recent never-ending story of entertainers Chris Brown & Rihanna. As humans we can become addicted to what we think feels good (at first), so why not domestic violence? We become addicted to the intense passion of the relationship. We become enablers by explaining away the behaviors of the abuser.
- I’m the only one who understands them.
- They are under a lot of stress.
- They have a hormonal disorder.
- It’s really not like that or that bad.
- They need me.
- They’re only words… and the list goes on.
Truth is, there is no excuse for physically or emotionally abusing anyone. Parents do it to children, children do it to parents, friends do it to friends, and lovers do it to loved ones. We know it’s wrong and does not fit into our societal norms so we try to hide it like any other nasty little habit. Yet even with that, we continue until someone gets sick and tired of being sick and tired, someone gets arrested or even worse someone is severely injured or killed. Many times it does not stop and we pass it down to the next generation.
All and all domestic violence whether it is physical, emotional, sexual or even financial, is never ever justifiable! It is hard to remove yourself from someone you love so intensely. It is however something that is unhealthy, life threatening and mentally destructive for both parties. People lose time from work, become angry parents or walk around with in fear with a chip on their shoulder and even die. Then, we tend to judge these people while pretending we have no frame of reference – but all we need to do is look at our own families & friends.
Most of us either know (or know of) a victim, have been a victim or maybe even an abuser ourselves. Don’t let your life experiences be without purpose. Think about how you can help these victims today. Volunteer or donate to a domestic violence shelter. The one thing we cannot afford to do is look the other way, because we never know who will be affected next. Our reaction to the problem of domestic violence may be the change that saves a life!
For more help on this topic, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline