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Domestic violence is a terrible problem that we all must face, not only the

people who are victims. We need to stop this before the problem

develops into anything bigger than it already is.

The battered woman, it has been said, lives in a world of terror and her

home is her prison (Berger, 1990, pg. 35). For many hundreds of years people

weren’t worried about domestic violence. In fact, a popular family journal, the

Journal of Marriage and Family, did not include a single article on domestic

from 1932 to 1969 (Berger, 1990, pg. 27). Suddenly, more women

came out and told of the abuse they had once suffered.

Researchers report that 1.8-2.9 million women are battered yearly. Not

only do the victims suffer physical pain, but they also have to deal with

emotional and psychological pain. The victim may have to face reoccurring

nightmares, and may never want to trust another man. Much too frequently,

the victim blames themselves. The typical response of an abused/battered

woman is, "I provoked him . . . I was being a bad wife, mother, and

housekeeper," (Peled, 1995, pg. 141). The very sad part about the violence,

beside the physical and emotional stress, is that most likely they know the

offender or abuser.

So, why, why would a person who is loved, want to abuse their spouse or

girlfriend? One of the key responses . . . Jealousy. The husband may become

very suspicious, afraid of losing his wife. The abuser sees his wife or girlfriend as a

possession. The only way, they think, to relieve this built up anger is

aggression. To improve their self-esteem, they abuse the victim physically,

emotionally, and sometimes, sexually. Another key factor in wife abuse is

alcohol. When the man is stressed, he turns to alcohol to relieve it. Little does

he know, that the alcohol makes him more irritable. "He started really drinking

excessively and that is when the abuse started. He had been drinking . . . I sat

down to read the paper and he wanted his supper . . . he kicked the cat to the

ceiling . . . he started slapping my face with both hands," (Berger, 1990, pg. 42).

Research shows that men who abuse their wives, often saw their own mother

abused. Do to witnessing this, the children of battered families usually grow up

to have low self-esteem and believe that hitting is right.

Women who are in abusive relationships find it very difficult to leave. Not

only are they afraid for their own lives, but sometimes, if children are involved,

the offender threatens the lives of the children. One woman told a

psychologist, "He promises anything you want to hear. He promises that he will

do anything, lots of tears, and Oh, I’m so sorry, and I love these children, I

would never do it again.’ You want to believe that it’s just a mistake, but it’s not

a mistake," (Berger, 1990, pg. 42). Many women are threatened by their

husband or boyfriend that if they try to leave they’ll be hurt worse than ever before or

even killed. 68% fear that their lives will be taken by the abuser, 71% of abused

women believe that they are still in love with their husband or boyfriend, and 66%

believe that they need a man to have a successful and happy life. After repeated abuse

many of the abusers try to convince the victims that they’ll change and that it will

never happen again. Researchers stress the point, "Once an Abuser always an Abuser,"

(Jones, 1994, pg. 52).

So, if you’re in an abusive relationship what is the best way to get out and

stop the battering? After notorious acts of abuse, usually, the woman will finally

realize that the situation will never get better. Basically there are three basic

reasons why women leave a violent relationship:

1. Knowledge that help is available.

2. Impact on the children. Living in a violent home where

the batterer abuses the children physically, mentally, or sexually may give the

woman the courage to leave.

3. Reaching the limit of violence she will tolerate (Berger, 1990, pg. 48).

First, "Knowledge that help is available," there are many groups and

organizations helping people deal with domestic violence and child abuse. For

example, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, offers

information on domestic violence. You can reach them at 1-800-537-2238. If

the children of the relationship were also beaten you can call the Childhelp

Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (24 hours a day). If your town or city doesn’t

have any organization for the victims of domestic violence, you should definitely

look into starting some kind of way to help these people. The main thing is not

to suffer in silence–to reach out for help(Gallo, 1996, pg. 105).

If you or someone you know is involved in a violent relationship, the best

thing you can do for yourself is to get out, because the situation is never going

to change. Most of all remember, domestic violence happens in all social classes and

all races. If you witness an act of violence, report it immediately, it may be the

only chance the victim(s) has.

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