Why do battered women prefer to stay?


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by Jayaram V

Wife battering is a common form of domestic violence. It exists in several cultures and societies. It is predominant in cultures where men wield more power, authority and economic advantage.

According to one study, in the USA wife battering is a major cause of injury to women between the ages 15-44.

About three to four million women in America said to become victims of battering in the hands of their husbands, ex-husbands and lovers. These figures are tentative, because many incidents of domestic violence and wife battering go unreported.

The problem is even more acute in other countries, where women do not have proper recourse to legal or government protection.

The relationship between a battered woman and her victimizer is a very complex one.

The batterers use several tactics to keep their victims under control, by coercing them into mental submission and forcing them into a state of helplessness.

The violence is a part of their strategy to mentally and systematically breakdown the victim's morale, autonomy and self-esteem, and hold her has a hostage, slave, or a prisoner.

As a result many battered women prefer to live at the mercy and under the control of their batterers rather than leave them and face the prospects of public ridicule and social disapproval.

Although there are many reasons why battered women form a mental bond with their batterers and stay with them, the three most important ones are: practical necessity, fear, and mental enslavement or dependence. In many cultures battered women cannot leave their husbands because of practical reasons such as financial, legal, social or cultural constraints.

In countries like the USA there are shelters for battered women in almost every major city and town. In some countries women in major cities get support from NGO's and charitable institutions.

However, in many countries women cannot go anywhere if they leave their husbands, unless they want to risk their lives and fall into the hands of criminals and women traffickers.

They also cannot afford legal fees to claim separation or legal protection. Besides, societal pressures make it even more difficult for them to claim separation and face the disapproval of their own family members.

As the victims lose their hope, sense of autonomy and self-worth due to continuous abuse and coercive control, and as they become too insecure and helpless due to fear and insecurity to seek any escape, they resign themselves to their fate and prefer to live with batterers, rather than leave them and live in peace.

They develop a kind of negative bonding with their batterers and stays with them.

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