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The common response a woman receives when she opens up about an abusive relationship is “Why didn’t you just leave?” Leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as it seems. Why?
Because most of the time, women don’t realize that they are being abused.
An abusive relationship distorts the very reality of the victims, often confusing and disorienting them with regard to their own decisions. Women stay in abusive relationships due to many aspects ranging from social and economic to psychological.
Some of the main factors that make a woman stay in an abusive relationship are:
Abusers can be extremely convincing manipulators. They damage the self-esteem of the victims so thoroughly that the victims question their own value.
It all happens so gradually that the victims don’t immediately realize what is happening to them.
With self-worth and mental manipulation in the works, they end up believing that they deserve everything they go through. The victims put up with the constant belittling and undermining in the name of love.
Isolation is a common tactic that abusers use. They emotionally or physically separate their victims from their friends and family to ensure that they don’t have anyone to turn to in the time of a crisis. This shift happens slowly and subtly and is often made to look like it is the victim’s decision.
The slow gaslighting is made to look convincing and natural.
Due to the social stigma surrounding divorce and single women, women often continue to stay in unhappy relationships. The society looks down upon and criticizes single women for their decisions, and shames and blames divorced women for their failed marriages.
Girls who grow up in households where women are abused (mentally, emotionally, or physically) by the men in the family, see abuse as a sign of obedience and surveillance.
After a while it becomes normal. The social and cultural pressure makes a woman choose a toxic relationship over herself.
Abusers thrive on the fear of the victims. They threaten the victims physically or emotionally to control them and trap them within a set structure of life.
They traumatize the victims with threats of harming them or their loved ones.
Most victims also happen to be afraid of being alone or facing conflicts or of having financial security which makes them stay in toxic relationships.
Even after understanding the signs of abuse, most women tolerate an abusive relationship as they refuse to see abuse as it is.
They mistake it for love or affection or find themselves feeling sympathetic towards the abuser.
They feel an overwhelming desire to help their partner in the hopes of changing them. For the sake of their relationship, they put their partner’s needs above their own and try to make things work out selflessly.
In most cases, abuse begins with psychological tricks, right at the start of the relationship. It is often mistaken for love or fondness. With time, the victims of abuse are left with no boundaries or sense of self. Most abusers have almost the same pattern.
If more victims come out to speak about their abusive relationship experiences, and if the society responds to victims with compassion and concern instead of criticism and judgments, it is possible to encourage women to choose themselves before a toxic relationship. It’s never too late to raise a voice!
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