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Myths about Abuse

Here is what some people think:

  • People think that only uneducated, working class women are abused.
  • People think that drink and drugs cause abuse.
  • People think that stress causes domestic violence.
  • People think that women who are abused ask for it or provoke it in some way.
  • People think that women enjoy being abused.
  • People think that women who are abused are a bit mad.
  • People think that if you were abused as a child, then you will become an abuser when you are an adult.

THESE ARE NOT TRUE.

Here is what some people think:

  • People think that only uneducated, working class women are abused.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    Women are abused in all cultures, regardless of educational level, class or religious belief.
  • People think that drink and drugs cause abuse.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    There are abusers who are sober when they are abusive towards their partners, just as there are abusers who don’t drink or take drugs. Alcohol and drugs may make the abuse worse, but they are not the cause of abuse and can not be used as an excuse for the abuse.
  • People think that stress causes domestic violence.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    Stress may spark off abusive behaviour, but it does not cause the abuse. If some people are so stressed that they have to abuse their partners, why don’t they abuse their friends, or their colleagues or boss at work?
  • People think that women who are abused ask for it or provoke it in some way.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    Many people think that if a woman is abused, it is because she nags a lot, or answers back and needs to be put in her place. But no one asks to be abused. Abusers must be responsible for their own behaviour.
  • People think that women enjoy being abused.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    No woman enjoys being abused. She may accept the abuse, perhaps because she does not believe she can escape it. Accepting abusive behaviour and enjoying it are two very different things.
  • People think that women who are abused are a bit mad.
    THIS IS NOT TRUE.
    Sometimes people think that a woman must be mentally ill to allow the abuse. Although some women may become depressed or suffer from anxiety attacks or some other mental disorder, this is because of the abuse. There are many abused women who are not mentally ill.
  • People think that if you were abused as a child, then you will become an abuser when you are an adult.
    THIS IS ONLY PARTLY TRUE.
    It is true that many abusers were themselves abused as children. But there are abusers who have never been abused, as well as people who were abused as children, who never become abusers. We are all responsible for our own behaviour.

So why does abuse happen?

Cultures and religions often seem to place men in positions of authority over women. Having authority is interpreted as having control over others.

The culture of violence in which we live makes violence seem like an acceptable way of dealing with conflict, within oneself or among people.

Abusive men use violence as a way of controlling women.

Abusive men use violence as a way of dealing with their own problems.

Abusive men must take responsibility for their behaviour.

With acknowledgements to POWA.

The pattern of abuse

Women who are abused consistently report that the abuse gets worse over time. As the abuse and isolation get worse, the level of fear and danger they experience increases. The higher the level of fear and danger, the more difficult it can be for these women to achieve safety for themselves and their children.

The pattern of abuse can progress very slowly, making it hard to recognize in the early stages. Abusers use different tactics of control at different times, forming a distinct pattern that is very effective in establishing and maintaining control over the victim.

Escalation
The escalation phase of the pattern of abuse may be a period in which the abuser uses a broad range of coercive tactics to control the victim, such as taking control of the finances, attempting to isolate the victim from potential sources of support, and using emotional abuse to wear away at the victim’s self-confidence and self- worth.

These efforts to control are often made under the guise of good intentions, love, and concern- especially early on. For example, an abuser may constantly point out the difficulties of working full-time and raising a family as a way to get his partner to quit her job and therefore become more financially dependent on him. Or an abuser might attempt to isolate his partner from friends by persuading her to spend more time with him. The long-term effectiveness of these forms of control depends upon the abuser’s ability to make the victim afraid to resist.

The Acute Incident
The acute incident is an intense show of force intended to make the victim afraid and to firmly establish the abuser’s control over her. While the acute incident is often a physical assault of some kind, the use of threats or the destruction of pets or property can also be effective ways of instilling fear and establishing control.

De-escalation
In the de-escalation phase, abusers often apologize, promise to not repeat the abusive behavior, give gifts, or express a desire for sexual intimacy. For abusers, this “making up” behavior may help them ease any genuine feelings of guilt they may have. In addition, abusers may use these behaviors as a way to manipulate their partners’ emotions- to give victims hope that the abuse won’t happen again. This can help abusers avoid negative consequences of their abuse.

Progression of Violence
Early on in a relationship, when the controlling behaviors are typically less intense, less severe, and often imposed under the guise of “good intentions,” it is very difficult to clearly identify them as part of a pattern of abuse. As a result, the first acute violent incident may easily be considered by the victim (and by others) as an “isolated” incident of abuse. Coupled with her partner’s remorse and promises to never repeat the behavior, a woman is easily persuaded to stay and “work it out.”

But over time, the victim may begin to see the repeated promises and apologies as empty, seeing little change (or an increase) in her partner’s violence since the first acute incident. If the abuser’s “making up” behaviors no longer instill hope and motivate the victim to stay in the relationship, he may look for other ways to maintain control. Often, that means increasing his use of threats, violence or other forms of control, which increases a victim’s level of danger and fear-a process known as entrapment.

The fear, isolation, and confusion caused by this pattern of abuse can keep a woman “walking on eggshells,” often afraid to tell anyone what is happening or to reach out for help.

From: http://thesafetyzone.org/everyone/pattern.html