Gender based violence as many may know refers to either physical, emotional, mental or sexual violence against someone. In most situations gender based violence takes place within relationships and women are more likely to be the victims. However, why do some women choose to stay in these toxic and sometimes life threatening situations?
“I think the importance of self-esteem cannot be underestimated. It affects your behavior and thoughts. It changes how you feel about and value yourself. It affects your confidence, and that can affect your success and thinking in a big way.”- Karl Perera. Many women choose to stay in these toxic situations because they have been led to believe that, that is how the partner expresses love. This is a form of mental or physiological where one truly believes they do not deserve better. Having been in relationships or situations like those makes it very easy for women to be scarred or left feeling worthless. Sometimes even being unable to appreciate good men or feeling like if they are not beaten down emotionally and physically by their partners that they are not truly loved.
Another reason why women choose to stay is what is referred to as the cycle of abuse. According to Marie Stopes there are four stages in the cycle of abuse. The first stage would be referred to as the tension building stage this is where tension between partners are high communication is at a bare minimum and the victim may start to become aware of what lays ahead. In most situations the victim goes into prevention mode by altering their behavior around their partner this could be in the form on speaking up less in other words not expressing true thoughts and opinions in avoidance of anger outburst and basically walking on eggs shells when around the partner. The next stage would be the incident of abuse, this could be done in various ways as listed above ranging from mental all the way to physically putting your hands on the victim in efforts to harm them. The next stage is the reconciliation otherwise known as the honeymoon stage this where the abuser makes an effort to make things better between the two of them by either apologizing countless amounts of time, spoiling the victim and even promising that it will never happen again. In my opinion this is the stage where the abuser uses all his manipulative powers against the victim as the victim is already scarred and very vulnerable. The next stage is the calm stage which coincides with the honeymoon stage, it is basically regarded as the calm before the storm.
Traditional values, in countries and like Namibia where cultures, traditions and religion play big roles it is also very easy to go up thinking that men should be respected and that they can do no wrong. Traditionally leaving marriages is frowned upon and even sometimes seen as a sin against God. You are urged to work on things with your partner and sometimes many think it’s the women fault that abuse is happening in their relationship with saying like “She is clearly not making him happy that is why he treats her that way.” The only way to prevent such thoughts and mentalities is educating kids from a young age that respect should come from both sides and also teaching kids that being mistreated in a relationship is not okay and that it is okay to speak up about it.
Isolation is another reason why women decide to stay in abusive relationships. In most cases women or the victims end up pushing away all their close friends and family. This sometimes occurs when the abusers manipulates the victim into thinking that the family and friends are the reason why the relationship is so bad or even going as far as asking the victim to choose between him or her family. When this happens it makes it harder for the victim to reach out for help as they are alone and have no one to talk to. In some very toxic situations abusers can become very controlling by locking the victim in the house or room or not allowing them to have a phone or any contact with the outside world.
Having a family would be considered to be one of the main factors as to why women choose to stay as women never want to separate their families and always strive for the happiness of their children above their own which is healthy in some situations but horrible in these types of situations. Children that grow up with abuse in their households often times start having the same character traits, for example little boys may grow up to think that it is okay to hit woman and talk down to them as their fathers did the same. Girls growing up in these situations may start to think that it is acceptable to be in oppressive situations.
Financial dependency, abusers often use this as a tactic of control and manipulation especially when they own everything and the victim does not have anything to their name. This often happens when he is the breadwinner and the idea of leaving him would leave you homeless and broke. Often times the abusers tend to remind the victims that they are nothing without them. This usually works because at this point the victim has already isolated herself from all friends and family and really does believe that she is nothing and has nowhere to go if she decides to leave.
Lastly and in my opinion one the most important is the victims feeling like their life would be in danger if they left and in Namibia otherwise known as passion killing. This is a very common problem in Namibia where as soon as victims finally find the courage to leave, abusers are not able to let go and understand that they cannot control the victims and in these cases it ends up in either just the victim or both partners dead. Usually by murder of the victim and the abuser then committing suicide. Many think that there is no passion when it comes to these types of situations should be referred to as power or patriarchal killings.
In conclusion there are many physiological factors as to why women decide to stay the only way to stop this is by spreading awareness on the topic and raising children how to interact with each other treat each other equally despite the gender and that starts at home. I also find it very important that women should not only solely depend on a men and set a life for themselves in case of situations like these.
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