According to the CDC, roughly 10 million people every year are subject to spousal abuse of some kind, and this doesn’t even count the abuse numbers perpetrated against children by a battering parent. Domestic violence is a huge problem, and shutting it down while also dealing with the spread is an issue society has been trying to get a handle on for some time now.
As we talk about below, there are many disturbing facts surrounding domestic abuse, and those who perpetuate it. Some of these facts make it difficult to stop the abusers, or end the cycle of violence, and some of the laws meant to protect everyone make it easier for the abuser to continue harming others, walking free of consequences.
10. Many Abusers Walk Free Because They Convinced Their Victim To Recant Their Testimony
Domestic abusers usually finally get caught because there is a disturbance heard by the neighbors and the police are called, or the victim finally decides to call themelves. In these situations, there is often an arrest made, and the police will take a statement from the victim. This witness statement is important in taking down the abuser and getting them locked up where they belong, but sadly the abuser often walks free. Many victims are either attached to the person who abused them, or somehow fear retribution, and end up later recanting their testimony.
This makes it very hard for the prosecutors to really go forward with the case, and it often means the abuser goes entirely scot free. To make matters worse, in these situations, the abuse victim nearly always ends up back with the abuser. In some situations, this means the batterer is still also around the children as well – if there are any. It is simply far too easy for testimony to be recanted later after the victim has had too much time to think about how they might want to protect their abuser from the law – clearly this needs to change. Prosecutors need better methods to bring airtight cases, so that one issue like that doesn’t leave a violent and dangerous person free to do what they wish.
9. Many Domestic Abuse Victims Come To Believe They Deserve It
Many people who are abused will stay with the person hurting them long past when they really should, leading those who have never been in such a situation to ask “why did you not leave?” Many simply do not understand the reasons it can occur, but guilt and lack of self esteem is one of the biggest. The person manipulating them will often go to great pains to bring down their sense of self worth, make them feel like they are useless, or only worthwhile when the abuser gives them their praise and ‘love’. This means since the abuse victim is trained not to believe the abuser could be doing anything wrong, as they are needed and important in their life, they convince themselves that they are doing wrong and deserving of the abuse.
This leads them to lose more self esteem, makes them less likely to seek help, and firmly puts them in the clutches of the predator controlling them. Since they are convinced they deserve it, their tormenter can pretty much do what they want, and they will still think they are the one who did wrong. Anyone who is abused should remember that you never deserve abuse, it is never your fault, and even if you have made excuses for them in the past, or allowed them to get away with it before, it is still wrong and they have no right to violate you in any way.
8. Oftentimes Victims Of Abuse Grow Up To Be Abusers Themselves
Many people would like to think that the world is a bright and shiny place where people who go through horrible things learn from it and would never imagine doing it to others. Sadly, this isn’t really the world we live in. While the majority of people who are abused do manage to break the cycle, there is a cycle and the amount of people who get caught up in it is rather alarming. Statistics peg the amount of abused children who grow up to be abusers themselves as somewhere between 30-40%, which is a much higher number than many of us are comfortable with.
The truth is that development as a young child is crucially important and children who are abused learn violence at an early age, and also often don’t have very secure attachments with their parents, which makes it harder for them to form secure attachments with their children later on. Experts believe with proper intervention and education that more people can break the cycle, but it is an uphill battle. Someone who has been abused at an early age has already gone through great trauma, and helping them get the help they need as early on in life as possible is paramount.
7. Men Can Also Be Victims Of Domestic Abuse, But Are Much Less Likely To Report It
When anyone talks about men being victims of domestic violence, people either tend to think of it as a joke, they think you are talking about gay men, or they are a men’s rights activist trying to make a point. However, sadly while many people do not take it seriously, domestic abuse against males is far more common than most people would think. Overall, while most people would think women make up the vast majority, men actually make up about 40% of domestic abuse victims. Unlike women, though, they are much less likely to report it. Many men are afraid they simply will not be taken seriously, told to man up, or other comments that assume a man is not capable of being abused by another person, especially a woman.
For gay men, it can be an even more difficult situation. Many people do not approve of their relationship to begin with, which narrows down the amount of people they can talk to. A lot of people do not respect gay people, or think that one is the “woman” in a relationship and will often play it off that way as well. More often than not whether straight or gay, the man will simply not report it out of shame, because society teaches men they are supposed to look and act tough at all times. Sadly, this means many men who are abused are not getting the help they need, and are continually victimized.
6. Many Victims Of Abuse Stay For Their Kids
Many people wonder why domestic abuse victims stay, and one of the most common ones is actually for the children. Many victims are worried that if they leave, there will be no buffer between the kids and the batterer. To make matters worse, if the victim leaves without taking the kids with them, the abuser can harm the kids in their absence. However, if the victim takes the children without first getting proper orders from the court, this could be used against them so the abuser can end up with legal custody – this puts the victim in a really tight position.
They essentially have to get in touch with the police and press charges, knowing the abuser could harm the children or themselves while awaiting full court proceedings – which can take some time. In many situations the victim is horrified that the abuser will go crazy when the game is up and become incredibly violent and dangerous. With the law not working as fast as they would prefer, many simply stay silent and try to protect their kids and take the anger and blows for them. They are gripped in fear by a monster who wants to control them, and are often left with very few options open to them.
5. Abusers With Drug Problems Will Convince Themselves They Are Not Bad People
Many abusers have drug problems, as many of you probably already know. Whether the drug problem is partly due to abuse they experienced, or more the main cause of their terrible behavior or not, it can make for the worst kind of abuser. This type will be really nice when they are sober, or sometimes it is the opposite – they will be really nice as long as they have their drug of choice. However, if they are in the wrong mental state, people will be hurt, and children and spouses will be abused and traumatized.
These people will convince themselves they are still good people, explaining it away as the drug doing the work. They will keep telling themselves that they will quit, and find it easy to make excuses, since they often don’t remember what they did during their rage blackouts. Unfortunately, spouses are also often likely to defend this type of abuser, because they see the nice person they can be at times, and try to defend who they believe the person “really is inside.” People like this often need serious treatment for substance abuse, and have had trauma in their past that causes them to lash out at others when they are in that specific mental state. They may not necessarily be evil people, but they probably should be somewhere they cannot hurt others.
4. Well-Meaning Spouses Who Protect Their Abusers Often Cause More Harm To Their Children
Some spouses really simply believe that their abuser is actually a good person. They will defend them to the ends of the earth, and in their mind, there is really nothing going wrong. Oftentimes this is the type of situation where the spouse may not actually be the victim of most of the abuse, but the children are really taking the brunt. Sometimes these spouses are so blinded by their love and devotion to their partner that they shrug off what is definitely physical abuse as just being “tough love.”
In many of these sad situations, it takes intervention from extended family members, teachers, or others to notice something, and can often still be an uphill battle. The spouse will be convinced that it’s just strong discipline and that their devoted partner is really super gentle. They will go to great lengths to defend them, while the child continues to be hurt. Sometimes they simply cannot accept that the person they love is violent or dangerous, and other times they do not understand how the strength of their spouse, or their own strength, is hurting their children. Some people caught up in these situations do not mean ill, but do not understand their own strength, or the harm a strong adult can do a child when physical discipline is taken too far. Some spouses caught in situations like these realize something is wrong, but are not sure if it is bad enough to ruin their marriage and go to all the trouble over. This can lead to allowing a sitution that is dangerous for the children to go on, and on.
3. Domestic Abusers Usually Abuse Both Their Spouse And Children If Applicable
While we did talk about situations where only one or sometimes both parents are abusing the children, and not each other, more often than not abuse of one implies abuse of others. People who tend to be violent against other people are often not that discriminatory in who they hurt. They are often broken or damaged people lashing out at others in an attempt to quell their own internal pain and trauma. When they reach that point, whether out of anger, or brought about by drugs, where they want to cause pain, the target they go for is simply usually whoever is closest and most convenient.
This means that in most cases, abuse of a spouse usually implies abuse of children and of course the other way around as well. There is also reason to believe that those who abuse their spouses are not only likely to abuse their children, but very likely to make that abuse of a sexual nature as well, instead of simply being violent. These people often do a really good job of putting on a respectable public face to the world, and will often keep the family under brutal psychological control so that they don’t spill the beans to others.
Many abusers are very charismatic in their own way, and this is part of how they manage to keep people in line. Sometimes they will be mean, but other times they will act almost unnervingly nice. One study that delved into the matter looked into 1,000 women who were victims of abuse, and found that in 70% of cases, violence against children was also a regular problem from their spouse. To make matters worse, the more children there were in the family, the more likely there was to be child abuse as well – although the abuse of the children was usually less brutal than that directed toward the spouse.
2. Most Households With Physical Abuse Also Have Instances Of Sexual Abuse
As we mentioned above, homes that have physical abuse going on are often also home to sexual abuse. However, it may be more common than most people would like to believe. People who abuse their wives are about 4 to 6 times more likely to sexually abuse their children, and about seven times more likely to hit their children. According to studies, about half of abusers who take part in incestual practices also hit the mother of the children they are having incestual relations with. Experts are now suggesting that if there is any past history of violence against the spouse, that authorities should treat it as a strong possibility that the children are also being physically and sexually abused.
Some researchers caution, though, that people shouldn’t focus too much on the physical or sexual aspects and forget the root causes or the more invisible abuse. These abusers are often incredibly skilled at manipulating their victims psychologically, and have a pattern of behavior that victimizes others in general. These people cannot simply be taught not to hit others, as the issue is far more complicated than that. These abusers often have serious issues that involve past life experiences or upbringing, and changing their attitude properly could be a very long and complicated process even if they were willing.
1. Far Too Often, The Abuser Ends Up With At Least Partial Custody Of The Children
Most people would think that if someone is being abused by a spouse, and they decide to leave, no matter the circumstances, that they will end up with the children. Unfortunately, the children are far too often caught in a dangerous situation where the abuser ends up with full or at least partial custody – allowing them to continue to wreak physical and emotional harm. What happens is that people will sometimes leave while leaving the children behind – even if they can make a decent case they were abused, this can make it difficult to get full custody later, as you abandoned the children.
On the other hand, if you take them with you, you can also be in a situation where you end up losing custody, or not getting it fully. The reason for this is that your spouse has partial rights to the children until the court decides otherwise, so if you take them away without a court order, they may just side against you. This gets more complicated by the fact that proving domestic violence can sometimes be a “he said, she said” situation, and while kids can be witnesses, they can also be unreliable witnesses at times. They may lie to stay with one parent they like, or not understand the situation properly.
In one horrible case, a woman was shortly with an abusive boyfriend, and he got in touch with her again later and found out she had had a child that was actually his. He demanded partial custody just to get in touch with her, even though they were not even close. He just wanted to spite her. After getting orders for partial custody, she was so scared of him being in control of her baby that she fled across the country with the child. Unfortunately, this caused her to lose all rights to her baby and the child ended up permanently with her abusive former boyfriend. This sad story shows that when it comes to domestic violence issues, we still have a long way to go in ensuring the right thing happens, justice is served, and children end up with the people who will take good care of them.