With the media influences of the late and pathetic occurrences associated with former NFL violence as the Ray Rice domestic assault and Adrian Pederson’s child abuse case, I often get asked why people stay in abusive relationships. “They’re stupid for staying” is a frequent comment I hear from the masses. I’ll leave the child abuse situation for another time.
My take on domestic assault and violence applies the pain-pleasure principle rules. I need to remind everyone as well, there are many men in these situations, not only women. Back to the pain-pleasure rules, You see, most people run away from painful experiences towards more pleasurable ones.
Then why do people stay in abusive situations?
Because staying in those situations is less painful, than leaving.
- It is more painful to be alone
- What about the kids
- The possibility of living on the streets because of a lack of finances
- The fear of being killed if one leaves.
How many have even contemplated this issue?
Most people look at these situations with the victims being “whacked,” “crazy,” or “messed up” to stay in such a situation. As I professional counselor, I see both sides of this sad coin in my office. My job is first to remember I am not my client, nor walk in their shoes, or live their lives. I do attempt to provide resources available for them, plus of course try to help these individuals to gain their lost sense of self, self-worth, and self-esteem. A huge avenue I try to pave is to have their situation be more painful to stay in than to leave.
There are consequences to leaving
Too many so-called professionals only look at getting away from these situations. They do not explore the consequences! This is a professional injustice and simply unethical in my eyes! The consequences are real and I explore these with the clients. “If you did decide to leave: how would you survive financially, where would you live, what about the kids?” These questions must be taken into consideration as they are necessities to the healing practices. Even if domestic violence shelters are available, we need to look at beyond that. Having a safe and secure environment is crucial to the healing process, along with community resources and legal advocates in place.
It is easy for people to point fingers and say “Just leave!” These individuals typically have not lived this life before, nor have any idea of the legitimate fears involved. I advocate for my clients in these situations on many levels, emotional, psychological, physical, and legal. However, ignoring these individuals’ pain and fears of the unknown must be explored as one of the first steps in helping them see that a domestic violence environment is more painful than the alternatives.
If you are in a domestic violence situation and need help the Domestic Violence Hotline number is 800-799-7233. You can find additional resources for people that are currently or have previously been a victim of domestic violence here: Relationship Resources or Personal Growth Resources.