abuse has no economic, educational, racial, or religious boundaries.
It occurs in families from all walks of life. Abused women
are homemakers, doctors, teachers, professors, nurses, secretaries,
and bankers. They are married to businessmen, professors,
executives, factory workers, accountants, doctors etc.
Marital abuse is an attempt to coerce and control one's spouse
through emotional and/or physical means. Although physical
abuse is considered the most obvious form of abuse, emotional
abuse by way of insults, intimidation, and other methods,
has the potential to be even more devastating than physical
abuse, because it is difficult to prove and therefore difficult
to stop. Examples of physical abuse are slapping, scratching,
biting, kicking, shoving, choking, hitting, sexual assault,
stabbing, and shooting. In the most severe cases, a combination
of both emotional and physical abuse are involved.
What is the
cause of marital abuse?
There are many theories about male violence leading to abuse
and assault on wives: hormonal or chemical imbalance, brain
damage, misreading each other's behavior, frustration, short-temper,
lacking skills of self-control, childhood trauma, genetic
and/or physiological abnormality, insecurity, self-doubts,
self-pity, fears of being "unmanly," fears of abandonment,
anger at others, unhappy with life, jealousy, etc. While many
therapists believe that cause of marital abuse is male
--a male belief that men are superior and should be the boss,
while women should obey and do the housework, and never refuse
sex. This is also associated with the feeling in men of powerlessness,
vulnerability, and dependency.
Other research has found abusive men to be dependent and low
in self-esteem. Many of these violent men apparently feel
a desperate need for "their woman," who, in fact, is often
more capable, smarter, and knows how to take care of their
wants. This act of independence by the wife or her brief interaction
with another man (perceived as intended to hurt him) sets
off a violent fight. The abusive man becomes contemptuous,
putting the woman down in an effort to exercise physical-emotional
control and tries to dominate her, thereby attempting to conceal
his dependence and jealousy.
Phases of marital abuse
There are three different phases in marital abuse.
1. Conflict and
This generally originates when the husband is not happy with
certain things or is unhappy about the expenses made by the
wife etc. At such time the wife either avoids her husband
or frantically works to keep her husband's happy. She does
this to prevent triggering another abusive explosion and to
keep things moving smoothly. However each time a small abusive
incident occurs, tension in the relationship increases. Eventually
the tension simmers to a boil, bringing on the next phase.
Ordinarily, this first phase lasts for long periods of time.
2. Abusive phase:
This phase is usually triggered by some particular event or
set of circumstances, though rarely the same and often unpredictable.
It just comes and goes leaving the abused person physically
and emotionally shattered. Initially, a wife is in a state
of shock and disbelief. She cannot accept the fact that the
person whom she loves so much has done something like this
to her. If she's been through the abusive cycle several times,
she's likely to experience a mixture of relief and rage--relief
that the inevitable assault is over, and rage over her husband's
empty promises to stop. However most surprisingly, she chooses
to forgive him and she remains silent and doesn't expose her
husband. However within her is an increasing sense of helplessness
and feelings of self-hatred for not doing something to prevent
3. Guilty and regret
This is a time when the abuser appears to be stricken with
grief over his cruel and insensitive actions. He works very
hard to make up for what he's done with apparent acts of kindness,
promising never to abuse again. Usually, a wife welcomes this
phase and enjoys the special attention given to her. Because
she desperately wants to believe that her husband is sincere,
she tends to overrate the genuineness of his remorse. This
phase may last a day or a few months, and it tends to become
less and less common. Eventually, however, the tensions will
slowly begin to mount and the cycle will repeat.
Why do women tolerate such abuse?
Many women will be afraid to report the abuse for fear that
there will be even a greater abuse or endangerment. She is
afraid of losing everything she holds dear, her husband, her
children, her financial support, her home, her family reputation,
and her physical and emotional well-being to name a few. Many
abused women have a desire to be loved and they keep hoping
for this love and that is why they give into the abuse. However
at the same time she feels hurt, wronged and angry. Women
that have been abused have feelings of betrayal. Anger is
usually present in the heart of the abused wife.
Anger arouses a vindictive response within her for not dealing
with the situation strongly. Fear prompts a passive response.
A vindictive response will occasionally bring an abused wife
to lash out at her husband, as she wants to make her husband
pay for what he has done. She will threaten him and demean
him. A passive response is a response that tolerates the abuse
out of fear, pursues peace at any cost and flees from any
kind of confrontation and she becomes a doormat.
What do you need to do if you are abused?
The most important thing that you need to do is be strong.
Do not give in to this kind of treatment and learn to fight
back. By this I don't mean that you should also lash out at
your husband. Learn to be self-sufficient and confident. Deal
with the situation rationally. Do not tolerate sufferings
and humiliation silently without any fault of yours. Try counseling.
Make your husband agree to it when he is in the guilty phase.
Take help of elders and close family friends. Following are
a few important steps you need to consider for dealing with marital abuse:
1. Admit that you are the victim of spouse abuse. You didn't
ask for this. Don't take responsibility for the abuse. Don't
pretend it will get better if you just ignore the problem
or work harder to pacify your husband.
2. Get to a place of safety. If you are living in a situation
of immediate danger in which you fear for your life, go to
a friend or family member's house where you can safely call
for help. If you don't have anyone you can go to, call a local
shelter for abused women in your area.
3. Notify the authorities as soon as possible in the event
of an attack. Law is there to help you and to ensure the safety
of the victim of domestic violence.
4. Break the silence. If you have been terrorized by an abusive
spouse, tell someone you trust about the abuse. But by all
means, refuse to keep it quiet any longer. Tell your parents,
an elder, or your close friend. Talk to a counselor. Don't
give in to this abuse and learn to live your life with dignity.
5. Try to get help. Your husband might be suffering from some
mental illness and treatment can get things right. Try to
convince him that he needs help or talk to his near and dear
ones for help.