I see many women who come to therapy because of domestic violence; and there are two things that consistently form an observable pattern among their stories:
- Full clarity only comes after they leave. In Canada, DV charges are now laid by the police and gone are the old days when a spouse could go into the station and drop the charges; an immediate no contact order is put into place, and both parties can be charged with breach if they contact one another. This is brilliant – this space is often enough for a woman to be able to recognize the full effects of the abuse; it is very often after greater clarity that she will begin to ask the question “Why did I stay?”
- Abusers have a nice side. Sometimes it is even a child-like side. It is the side of them that can be quite charming, it is the side of them you feel sorry for, it is the side of them that does nice things for you after the abuse, it is the side of them that makes it easier to forgive them; this is the part of them that lands you into a place of hope that “this time, things will change.”
But they won’t. And for many women, that is where the clarity comes into play. Leaving is not an easy process, lots of conflicting emotions and a combing through of the damaging effects of mixed messages, but the facts remain – abusers need to feel superior to their partners, they need to own their partners, they need to blame others for their own inadequacy.
It is not always easy to understand why someone stayed and we can be pretty quick to blame ourselves or to perhaps judge others, but we must always be mindful of the deceiving side of abuse.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please ask for help. Some resources include:
In Renfrew County: http://www.wsssbmh.org/en/
Domestic Violence Agency website in Canada: http://www.hotpeachpages.net/canada/index.html
USA Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/