This theory has become part of a series of theories that get into the various aspects of a relationship and the obstacles that some face when it comes to abuse both emotionally and physically. In my “When Enough is Enough Theory” I discussed how difficult it is for people to make a decision as to when the time is right to get out of a relationship that they feel is abusive or going nowhere. In my “I am not Good Enough Theory” I talk about the fall outs from mental and physical abusive relationships and how it effects a person’s self confidence and esteem. This theory will place a greater emphasis on the abuser where the past two have focused on the victims.
At someone point in every one’s lives they have experienced some form of abuse whether physically or emotionally. Abuse comes in many forms and does not necessarily have to be obvious to the regular person because those who have experienced abuse, in some manner, for a good part of their lives are unable to distinguish between abuse and the norm. When a person has gotten so used to the abuse it seems as if they have fallen into a psychological phenomenon called Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is where hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with their captors (Webster’s Dictionary). You may be asking yourself how would this phenomenon apply to me when I am not a hostage? The first thing I would say is don’t take the definition at face value and look into the effects psychologically and how you can compare those symptoms to abusive relationships.
Many men and women who live within an abusive relationship endure significant psychological effects that most people would say they understand, but do they? When a person’s self confidence has reached an all-time low because of emotional abuse they begin to feel that no one would ever want someone who is broken, therefore they are less likely to leave that relationship. They have this gleaming hope that there is still love from their abuser. By no means are you a hostage in a relationship but fear creates that “hostage like feeling” because choosing to move on could result in increased abuse. For whatever reason though a person who chooses to stay in an abusive relationship is doing so at their own risk and for whatever reasons. They ultimately has to live with those decisions.
One of the biggest challenges with being in an abusive relationship is for others to see what you are going through. Abusers typically put on a good show in front of others which portrays them as your typical good citizen but behind closed doors their psychological mindset is that of an abuser. How often do you find yourself being emotionally abused but yet those closest to you don’t see that side of the abuser? It happens more than you think and it makes it difficult for others to see and understand what you are going through. When you lack the emotional support from those you love it creates that “Boy who cried wolf” mentality where convincing them that you are a victim becomes harder over time. Unfortunately some people need to witness the abuse before they believe others rather than take a person’s word for it. This creates a see-saw effect where you want to believe someone but you also know that person well enough and their judgement is brought into question.
The abuser throughout all this puts on that smile and is friendly with everyone outside the relationship. They create this persona to hide the fact they are inherently abusive in nature. This could stem from being abused themselves but their ability to maintain this “split personality” is borderline sociopath as their empathy towards those they abuse is nonexistent. Those that have mastered both persona’s are difficult to expose because they understand their victims psychological mindset and use that to their advantage. Those individuals who experience this type of abuser should get out immediately, no matter what that circumstances are, otherwise you are making the choice to stay and unfortunately going to suffer further abuse at this person’s hand.
That last statement might seem cold and many would argue that there are circumstances that I would not understand that prevent them from moving on but I would continue to say that leaving or staying is a choice. The only person who can make that choice is you. To say that you have no say in the matter is completely false, unless you find yourself in some legal battle where your right to make a choice, in some matter, is removed or revoked. When a person stays with another, even after hearing they cheated on them, that is their choice. When a person is physically abused and they bail that person out so they don’t have to be alone, that is their choice. I understand that there are other challenges or obstacles that influence a person’s decision and I will touch on that next.
As you can see I believe that every person has the ability to choose their path, but what about a path that involves children. Most people would say that any situation involving a child is difficult and you just can’t walk away or can you? There is obviously incredible challenges that come with an abusive relationship especially when children are involved. I don’t mean children are being abused but their perception of both parents is that of a loving and nurturing one where they may not understand what goes on behind closed doors. Separating that child from either parent is likely to have a significant emotional effect on that child. The level of emotion though is dependent on their age and their understanding of the situation. Teenagers are more likely to understand what abuse is where a 4 year old looks up to both parents and doesn’t have the mindset to understand it. This makes any victim second guess their decisions knowing that removing the child from this situation will have some emotional effect on the child when they are used to having two parents in their lives.
If this were the latter part of the 20th century I would agree that taking a child and walking away from your abuser would be the right decision but this is the 21st century and we have learned many things over the years. Your child no longer can be used as an excuse to stay in a relationship because doing so plays to your character as a parent, especially in the eyes of the State. That statement may seem harsh but it’s reality and if a person is likely to abuse you they are likely to move on to child abuse at some point. Most abusers escalate over time especially when you allow them to. You can’t use the excuse “They would never hurt their child”, because they already abuse a person they claim to love so why would a child be any different in their mind psychologically? Then comes the question, “What about the father’s right to see the child?” and to that I say let the courts decide that and focus on protecting your child and yourself from further abuse.
I have beaten this topic to death but I want to make the point that I myself have never experienced abuse in the manner that most have. I am not a parent, well I was one for a short period until paternity results came back, but I have seen and heard enough stories to make myself feel like I been in their shoes psychologically (not physically). We can use every excuse in the book as to why a relationship should never be broken, especially when it involves children, but are you willing to accept all consequences for making the wrong choice, even though you feel its right but everyone tells you otherwise? If you feel endangered around your abuser wouldn’t you feel the same for the child? The fact remains you, the victim, have a choice and you have to live with that choice. As long as you allow a person to be abusive they will always be one. Do something now and help yourself, your loved ones and potential future victims otherwise you’re giving them a slap on the wrist for their actions.
People are most certainly going to criticize me for talking about something I have never experience myself. This may be true but that doesn’t change the fact you have a voice and a choice. Many people have walked away and taken their children with them because it was what was best. Let the legal system take over at that point but you took the first step in removing yourself and your child from the situation which if you think about it is a Choice you have.