SEX & RELATIONSHIP - Why women return to abusive relationships
Published: Monday | March 16, 2009
With all the fuss about entertainers Chris Brown and Rihanna's alleged domestic violence dispute case and indications that they are maintaining the relationship, the question of why women return to abusive relationships is resonating.
The question is as old as the issue of domestic violence itself, and Rihanna, though young and successful, seems not to be exempt from the tide of effects that accompany abuse.
Charmaine, now 22, knows this situation all too well.
She was only 16 when an argument with her boyfriend escalated to the point that he slapped her across the face. It was the beginning of a tumultuous relationship with the man who would eventually become her child's father.
Things got worse
"That time we were seeing each other for three months," Charmaine said. Afterwards he apologised profusely and she believed that it was just a mistake. Months later it happened again.
Subsequent incidents were worse. He started slapping her with his open hand and then graduated to his fist. On the same occasion he used a pipe iron to hit her. Another time he hit her over the head with a glass bottle.
"It just kept on reccurring, falling into a routine," she said.
Her injuries have been numerous; bruises, swollen eyes, gashes over her body, some of which landed her in the hospital.
"He kept on apologising and, after a while, he seemed to have such plausible excuses it would make sense," she said.
"I loved him despite the way he was. Sometimes he would openly cry as if someone hit him. Sometimes I just felt sorry for him," she explained.
Advised to leave
She was advised to leave but she began believing what he was saying. The apologies turned into reverse psychology, with him blaming her actions as the reason he hit her.
"I think it's harder to leave them (an abusive partner) than anybody else," she said.
She said it's easy for individuals on the outside looking in to criticise women who remain in these relationships but being inside that relationship is a different ball game.
"You want it to be explainable. You don't want to think that this man is a monster," she said.
According to Maria Rankine, a counsellor at Woman Inc's Crisis Centre, the reasons women go back to an abusive relationship are usually emotional, financial or both.
"I think in the case of Chris and Rihanna, it's emotional dependence," she said.
Many women find it difficult to leave because otherwise the man is good.
"Apart from the beating, he is a good person. He cooks, cleans and helps with the children," she said.
Such was the case with Cassandra and her partner who was otherwise considerate, caring and even generous with back rubs.
Rankine said women need support in these situations. If a woman finds herself in an abusive situation, she should discuss it with friends and family and, if she wants to work at the relationship, get counselling, preferably with the partner.
"You really cannot tell them what to do but we allow them to examine their options," said Rankine.
Went to prison
Cassandra's break came when he went to prison on an unrelated charge. She called him in prison and told him that when he got out things would not be business as usual. She made the break, but once he got out he used their daughter as an excuse to get close to her.
He ended up abusing her one last time. "That beating was the worst of them all," she said. He insisted the community was no longer big enough for both of them. She found refuge at the crisis centre until she got back on her feet.
Today she is working on another relationship. In retrospect, she would have changed one thing. "If I had only known then what I know now, I would have left after the first hit. I would run as far as I could from that point."
Name changed upon request.
Contact Woman Inc's Crisis Centre at 929-2997.