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Domestic violence is a problem in the United States. It is ranked the highest out of all the different types of abuse. As E. Gondolf and E. Fsher has stated, there are 3 phases that are a part of the abuse, in their article Battered Women as survivors. Domestic violence is mostly among the women who live in poverty and are stuck in a rut. Why do these women stay with their abusers?

Phase 1: Buildup or Escalation

The beginning of the sequence. The batterer is building up his/her stress and tension. Arguments are unresolved. Resentments are saved and built up. Problems are not dealt with. Feelings are kept in, and turned into anger, or the abusive partner may become increasingly more controlling or cruel without exhibiting anger. Many batterers increase their chemical use and try to avoid conflict. This is when the cues start to occur. This phase can be of long and short duration.

The higher the stress and buildup, the harder it is to take time out and avoid abusive behavior.

The woman tries to calm the man by becoming nurturing and compliant, either anticipating his every whim or staying out of his way. She accepts his abusiveness as legitimately directed towards her, and she believes she can prevent his anger from escalating. She becomes his accomplice by accepting some of the responsibility for his abusive behavior by:

·not permitting herself to get angry with the batterer

·using her psychological defense of denying her own anger at being unjustly hurt both psychologically or physically

·minimizing the isolated violent incidents

·denying her terror of the inevitable battering

She believes she has control over his behavior. As the tension builds, it becomes more

difficult to make the coping techniques work, so she withdraws or blows up at him.

As she withdraws or escalates herself under the stress, he looks for an expression of her

anger and the tension continues to escalate.

Phase 2: The Acute Battering Stage

This phase begins when the abusive or violent behavior happens. This stage is characterized by the purposeful discharge of tensions. This includes all abuse, whether "minor" or "severe". The batterer tries to control the situation with his abuse, and generally justifies his behavior. He thinks he has a lack of predictability and lack of control. The abuse may get worse if the batterer finds it hard to keep control of the situation, and/or partner. If she resists, the batterer may become more violent.

Sometimes the woman will provoke the batterer because she can no longer tolerate the

overwhelming stress and fear. She doesn't feel the pain as much as she feels

psychologically trapped and unable to flea. She often minimizes her injuries. After the

incident she may feel listless, depressed and helpless. She often tends to isolate herself

for a period from 24 hours to several days before getting help.

Phase 3: Honeymoon

The period following the abuse is called the honeymoon phase. This stage is often characterized by an unusual calm. The batterer may feel physically relieved and be sorry or shameful. He tries to make it up to her by behaving in a constantly charming and

loving manner. Gifts and promises of better behavior are common. He often apologizes,

begs her forgiveness, and tries to be affectionate. He promises never to do it again and

believes he can control himself from now on. If she has left, he pleads to get her back,

often enlisting family and friends. He promises anything, even going for couples

counseling or to a treatment program for batterers. His reasonableness supports her

belief he can change. She gets a glimpse of her original attraction to him and identifies

the good, strong man she loves. She will do anything to patch things up and he reminds her that he needs her and may commit suicide if she doesn't come back. This is where symbiotic bonding takes hold. She is not getting all the rewards of being married, and is bought off as an accomplice to her battering, which adds to her self-hatred and embarrassment. This stage gets shorter after several incidents. The apologies and promises become worthless. The abuser begins to blame his/her partner more and more. For some women, this stage ceases to exist. For others, there never is a honeymoon stage; instead they endure an endless cycle of violent incidents without any acknowledgment of wrongdoing (Gondolf 1988).



Depression Religious Beliefs

Low Self-Esteem Economically Dependent

No Self Confidence Family Unit - Marriage, Children

Traumatic Bonding Traditional Views

Fear of Violence Woman Submissive

Fear of Risk and Passive

Guilt - I Deserve It Man's Home Is His Castle

No Place To Go


Protection From ViolenceSocial Services, Police

Help For Their HusbandsHaven Housing, Court

System, Doctor, Friends or Neighbors (Brandwein 1997).

Women often stay with the male abuser because they feel that there is nowhere else for them to go. At times the men will tell the women that they are no good and no one wants them so they stay. Some women feel its better to be with someone and be miserable then to be alone and miserable.

While domestic violence cuts across social groups defined by race, ethnicity, and economic circumstances, it is clear that the combined experience of poverty and violence raises particularly different issues for women (Gondolf's 1988).

In most of the studies that have addressed the issue, well over half of the women receiving AFDC reported that they have been thru some physical abuse by their male partner at some point through their adult life, had also experienced physical/sexual abuse as a child. There are recent studies where male partners are abusing the women are still high 19.5% to 32%. These women are staying because they feel that they are unable to make in on their own.

The studies agree that current or recent domestic violence is more common among poor women and especially among those receiving AFDC. In Massachusetts there are about 734 women receiving welfare help and there are 42 offices in the state. The study shows that 40 of the 42 offices found that 64.9% had experienced physical abuse by the male partner during their lives, and 19.5% reported this abuse during the past year. (Allard et al. 1997). A random survey shows that 824 women (in a Chicago's low-income neighborhood) found that women who received AFDC were more likely to be victim of domestic violence: 33.8 % of AFDC recipients and 25.5% of the non-recipients had experienced severe abuse. Of those who are currently in a relationship 19.5% of those recipients and 8.1% of the non-recipients had experienced abuse in the last year. (Lloyd 1996). All the means of money these people have is their AFDC and that is only enough to pay the bills so there is no money left so that they can get out of the relationship, example: it take money to move and there is none.

These studies say that women receiving welfare have experienced high rates of violence of varying kinds by a male partner. The picture that comes from these types of surveys is as follows; a majority of women on welfare have experienced violence in some way by a male partner or in childhood.


Answering the following questions will help the person already in a relationship in determining if it is an abusive one or becoming abusive.

Does your partner...

_______ embarrass you in front of people?

_______ belittle your accomplishments?

_______ make you feel unworthy?

_______ constantly contradict himself to confuse you?

_______ do things for which you are constantly making excuses to others or yourself?

_______ isolate you from many of the people you care most about?

_______ make you feel ashamed a lot of the time?

_______ make you believe he/she is smarter than you and therefore, more able to make


_______ make you feel that it is you who is crazy?

_______ make you perform acts that are demeaning to you?

_______ use intimidation to make you do what he/she wants?

_______ prevent you from going or doing common-place activities such as shopping,

visiting friends and family, talking to the opposite sex?

_______ control the financial aspects of your life?

_______ use money as a way of controlling you?

_______ make you believe you cannot exist without him/her?

_______ make you feel that there is no way out and that "you made your bed and must

lie in it"?

_______ make you find ways of compromising your feelings for the sake of peace?

_______ treat you roughly - grab, pinch, push or shove you?

_______ threaten you - verbally or with a weapon?

_______ hold you to keep you from leaving after an argument?

_______ lose control when he/she is drunk or using drugs?

_______ get extremely angry, frequently without an apparent cause?

_______ escalate his/her anger into violence - slapping, kicking, etc.?

_______ not believe that he/she hurt you nor feel sorry for what he/she has done?

_______ physically force you to do what you do not want to do?

Do you.........

_______ believe that you can help your partner change the abusive behavior if you were

only to change yourself in some way, if you only did something differently, if

you really loved him/her?

_______ find that not making him/her angry has become a major part of your life?

_______ do what he/she wants you to do rather than what you want to do out of fear?

_______ stay with him/her only because you're afraid he/she might hurt you if you tell?

If you have said yes to many of the above questions, you have identified an abusive relationship and need to seek help and advice. (Brandwein 1997).

Women stay in these relationships because they are told for so long that they can't make it on there own. That they are not smart enough to make it and that they are to ugly to find a better man. In all of this I have found that most of the women being abused are believing this and not trying to get out of the relationship.

Work Cited

Allard, M. A., R. Albelda, M.E. Colten and C. Cosenza. 1997. In harm's way? Domestic violence, AFDC receipt, and welfare reform in Massachusetts. A report from the University of Massachusetts, Boston (McCormack Institute).

Brandwein, R. 1997. The use of public welfare by family violence victims: Implications

Of new federal welfare "reform." Paper presented at the Fifth International Family Violence Research Conference. Durham, New Hampshire

Gondolf, E., with E. Fisher. 1988. Battered women as survivors: An alternative to

treating learned helplessness. Lexington, MA: Lexington

Lloyd, S. 1997. the effects of domestic violence on women's employment. Law and

Policy 19 (in press).