What is Battered Woman Syndrome?
Battered woman syndrome can be severe enough to fall into the diagnostic criteria of Post-Traumatic –Syndrome. Again many diagnoses are on a continuum of severity. When a woman is consistently emotionally and or physically abused they are a battered woman. It DOES NOT just imply physical violence. Many have no problem knowing what a battered woman is, or what they go through. We all have had friends or know of someone who has been in this ugly situation. The battered woman has extreme difficulty getting out of the vicious cycle of abuse.
How does a Battered Woman Evolve?
A battered woman MUST take some responsibility in her decision making process as well as her past issues for this to occur. This has never been so true with women, who repeatedly marry or become involved in repeat relationships where they are abused. Please remember there are no absolute truths in psychology. There are commonalities that lean towards higher percentages. When women grow up in an environment where their father is emotionally absent, or there is a history of abuse, we frequently see these women grow up and get involved in abusive relationships. There are those women that have an excellent childhood with excellent parents, and get manipulated or conned by the husband; as in dating tips where I speak of alcohol abuse. Does the man your dating need the alcohol to feel more assertive, or more humorous? This is a red flag. Women who do not think highly of themselves, or need the man to be an emotional extension are dangerous signs. Women with extremely poor self esteems feel they deserve to be hit, deserve to be emotionally abused. They frequently are stating, “I will do better.” “What am I doing wrong?” “What would you like me to do to make you happy?” Yes, these statements frequently induce cold chills in individuals reading this. Many strong right wing, conservative Christians believe verbatim the Bible and the woman’s place is in the home and below the man in terms of finances and control. How distorted can this be? Battered woman syndrome occurs in Christian homes, atheist’s homes, and is found in all socioeconomic areas.
Women need to look at their past, look at their present situation and how they arrived at such a demeaning, depressive, and stifling situation. There is minimal hope for these relationships working out long term. However, there is a great deal of hope for the woman starting a new healthy and productive life.
What are the Symptoms of a Battered Woman?
Battered women, will have a constellation of symptoms. These symptoms will begin at a slow pace, as the emotional and or physical abuse continues the symptoms exacerbate. Women are frequently placed in a double bind scenario. ”They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.” This induces a learned helplessness scenario, and frequently causes a depression. Women feel guilty, fearful, feel they have no escape, and become distant with friends and family. Some of this distancing is due to the abuser impeding them from seeing their family. Women feel as if they cannot disclose to peers and family, so they can protect their husband, as well as dealing with their own embarrassment. It is not uncommon for these men to be excessively into “control.” Some want the house immaculate and rarely if ever lift a hand to help. There is frequently an OCD component, some men will demand their belt loops on their pants to be ironed and are very much into image and show. All of these types of symptoms should be red flags, warning signs if you will to get out. Women feel as if they have to lie, to make excuses for bruises, cuts, abrasions, and destruction to personal property. Women also refuse to seek help, for fear of major retribution, and more intense violence. Crying episodes are common. Women feel a need to be excessively neat to an almost obsessive nature as well as become so depressed that household chores feel like a burden. Children are affected, and become reclusive or act out at home or school.
The cycle of guilt, depression, learned helplessness, and being beaten or emotionally abused begins to take on a life of its own. Women feel as if they deserve this atrocious attack. Until support from a peer, or the push by a health care provider the abuse can continue for years. Legal intervention, police need to be called, and restraint orders need to be implemented.
What are the treatments for Battered Women?
Treatment for battered women or as follows:
- Get out of the home at all costs. Be prepared to live with a peer, or family member. Take what is emotionally meaningful or sentimental. The rest can be replaced. It may take years, but eventually you can replace it. They are ONLY materialistic items.
- Obtain a restraint order. The responsibility is now yours to implement it. So many times the perpetrator begs, cries, asks for forgiveness, uses the children as a go between any ploy they can conjure up to get you back. DO NOT SUCCUMB! Call the police; use your restraint order power.
- Inform your place of employment. These men will usually approach you at work. Make calls at work, and even try to sabotage your employment.
- Seek out a good therapist. You may have to go through one or two till you find the right one. Please stay in therapy. This is a long process. Remember you have been abused for a long time; therapy will not just take a few sessions.
- Take care of your children, see if they need a therapist, and monitor their grades from school. Depending on their age, they will have a hard time asking why they cannot see Daddy.
- Empowerment. You must slowly get strong, trust your decisions, and realize your talents. You have been emotionally beaten down and possibly physically beaten. You have God given talents, begin to recognize them and push forward.
- “The past is the past, that is why they call it the past.” —C .Hurn. Yes one must look at the past, and then learn from it, but to ruminate and dwell on it is counterproductive. There is a new path ahead of you that YOU and only YOU created. There will be a time when you can walk it safely and be happy. I promise you.
- All forms of healing are at your fingertips. It has been shown that putting in place a variety of treatment modalities, has the best outcome. Medication is very helpful if not life saving in the short term, spirituality, therapy, and group work is very powerful, here you are face to face with other women who have been through this hell, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
- Chances are because of the abuse you have lost some of your friends, or not been in contact with them. Give them a call, you have freedom now, move forward with your independence.
- Say hello to your parents again. Re-introduce yourself to your parents. They have been outside observers and chances are you have not shared with them the truth. Enjoy your family, they will want to be with you, spend time with you and love you.
How to Get Back Into a New Relationship after an Abusive Relationship?
Distrust, paranoia and not trusting your decisions are frequent after an abuse relationship. You will become aware of these thoughts and it may bring you down, and even push you into a depressive state. Remember all men are not like your ex –relationship. In order to trust your decisions you need to risk. The more you risk with positive outcome the better you will feel about yourself, it takes time; a man in a new relationship may have a hard time understanding, if he truly loves you. He will stand by your side. However you need to recognize in order to be happy, there needs to be risk taking. I am frequently asked, “How will I know when I am ready to date?” There is no one answer. Everyone is different. Some women are able to date right away, if they have a very supportive man in the relationship. They can actually work together as a team to fine tune the distrust. For others it may take years.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You walk this path only once. When you find that one special person, hang onto them. Do not let your pathology; the seeds that had been sewn from the past take root in your new relationship. Take ownership for your part; recognize what you bring to the table. If you implement some of these changes, the sun will shine more frequently, the future will be brighter. This I can promise you!
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224