By Marisol Lucio
Though I am not currently married, nor have I ever been, I felt drawn to write on this subject considering that it hits very close to home – with my mom. Also, I was told once that I was starting to take after her,when it came to choosing the guys I would date. The thought of that frightened me. Not because I could end up with an abusive, manipulative, controlling man, but because I could probably become a woman who does not love herself enough to walk away. Since then, the Lord, through professional counseling, has helped me realize and accept who I am in Him and to love myself. Still, it is not an easy subject to write about because I wish mom would stop putting up with what she goes through at times; but she has to make that decision. I cannot do it for her. I want to research and study a bit more on this issue that I may gain knowledge on why many women go through this and why it continues to happen.
On The Power Of Two website, the author lists 5 types of abuse in marriage along with a description of each. With what I understood from the article, I have listed the types of abuse in 4, with one of them including 2 sub points. The order they are listed in it is also important (to me at least) as the very first one is the most common and obvious in a relationship, but the last 3 are the types of abuse that, with lies, cover ups, and thought-out explanations, can be hidden very well.
Physical Abuse – This type of abuse is the one that is obvious as most of its results are visible. A woman could lie that she fell down the stairs and so forth, but in reality, it could be the many beatings she receives from her husband. This is sometimes also called, domestic violence. Physical abuse also includes, abandoning you in dangerous places, driving at high speeds or toying with dangerous situations to intimidate you, refusing to help you when sick or withholding aid when sick, injured or pregnant.
Verbal Abuse – This type of abuse is one that in my opinion, many women condone. Why do I think that? Because for them the lie could be “Well, at least he did not hit me; he just cursed at me?” or “Even though he calls me names, he has never hit me before.” Demands, insults, humiliating comments in public or private, hurtful jokes, name calling, belittling, swearing, questioning your sanity, or ridiculing your opinions or desires are still forms of abuse even if they do not lay a finger on you.
Psychological Abuse – I have chosen this one as a third type of abuse even though it includes a bit of verbal abuse as well. Let me explain. As with verbal abuse, psychological abuse uses words but, in my opinion, these serve a specific purpose for the man. that of controlling the woman’s emotions and behavior.
Controlling Emotions – the man may use guilt, criticism, anger or manipulation in order to degrade the victim, even constant cheating (adultery). Why? He does so to hurt her and makes her comply with what he wants.
Controlling Behavior – the man makes demands on her regarding her friends, their finances and activities; he will keep her isolated, to lower her self-esteem, and in this way he becomes the only person in her world. He will succeed in controlling her behavior by threats, anger and criticism.
Sexual Abuse – A woman, who probably already suffers from any of the types of abuse listed above, may be unaware that sexual abuse is possible in her marriage. I say that she is probably unaware, because if her husband manipulates her with words, then he could probably come to the point where he manipulates her to have sex, forcing her, even if she does not want it. Unwanted or forced sex, withholding sex, forced engagement in any sexual activity that hurts or frightens the woman, refusing to practice safe sex, preventing her from taking birth control, or making decisions about pregnancy and abortion, are forms of sexual abuse.
What is the problem actually?
Mr. Roy Gomez, from his lesson on Love, Trust and Respect quoted: “You don’t put up with their disrespect because you love them, you put up with it because you don’t love yourself enough to leave.” I believe that this is one of the reasons, if not the core reason, why many women find themselves in an abusive marriage.
Because she has not yet seen herself as a valuable person, the woman may stay tolerating the abuse by believing some lies in her head:
-If I confront him or report him, I will be alone because he will leave.
-How will I make it by myself and with the children (if any are involved)?
-I cannot leave him, who will do this or that for him.
-This is my fault, I deserve the abuse.
-What will people say if they find out?
-This is normal, it happened to my parents.
-He is all I have.
-I love him, I believe he will change.
-If I report him, everything will change.
The Love Is Respect website says that people who have never encountered abuse in marriage often wonder why the person just does not leave. Again, because of the lies that the woman may believe and her not loving herself enough to leave, it is more complicated than it seems.
Why it happens
The article Fatherless Women: What happens to the adult woman who was raised without her father? says, “Optimally, a little girl needs to see herself reflected in the love she sees for herself in her father’s eyes. This is how she develops self confidence and self esteem. This is how she develops a healthy familiarity with what a positive expression of love feels like. This is how she develops an appreciation for her own looks, her own body. This is how she develops what Jungians would call her ‘animus,’ her counter-sexual self; her masculine self, which will help her be proactive, productive, and creative in the outer world as she grows into adulthood.”
I found it necessary to quote verbatim from the article due to how it pinpoints exactly what I see happening in my mother’s life. I could have not put it into better words, but she grew up away from her dad since the age of 5, and was raised by her grandmother. I can now see that her married life is the perfect imagery to the above quote.
A woman who did not have a father (for whatever reason) to show her what love really is (which is an action), and with that same love to help her build her confidence, this will push her to find her worth in a man. Her perception of a loving relationship may become so distorted, to the point that she could potentially be attracted to the type of man that is controlling and abusive. This could be directly due to the fact that her father was not there to guide her. She may not know how a man is supposed to treat a woman, so in her mind this is all she knows to expect of a husband (abusive, control, “he is the head of the house.”). She does not have enough self-confidence, nor loves herself, so therefore she does not have the will power to walk away.
To whom it happens
Though the paragraphs above describe abuse regarding married women in general, I want to focus this portion on one specific group: Hispanic married women.
Based on what I have seen in my parents’ marriage, I can attest that it is not only in their relationship that abuse happens, but in many other Hispanic marriages I know of or have known. It is almost like a tradition, or a type of generational curse (for lack of a better word), that abuse in Hispanic married women happens.
The notion is that the Hispanic (especially the Mexican) man is the “Macho man.” According to Wikipedia, a macho man or machismo, in this culture, is a concept that is associated with men and their masculine pride, with the supreme valuation of characteristics associated to the men and a denigration of characteristics associated to the women.
The Hispanic women, whom I have met, or am related to, seem to have this idea. Even though they might not grasp the actual concept of what a macho man is, their idea is this: He is the head of the house, it goes as he says, and/or I cannot do anything without him. This type of woman will be under his control. Because of this concept (or lie), the abuse continues from generation to generation. It stays within the family; the great-grand mother, who became the other woman, and had 8 children put up with abuse, until the man left her. One of her daughters married, then later was cheated on by her husband who left with one of her own sisters. Those two had children but the man sexually molested one daughter and impregnated her.
Another one of the grand-mother’s daughters also married, and was left alone with child. One of the sons, of the great-grandmother, married and had 3 children of his own, his wife died 4 years into the marriage and he remarried leaving his children with his mom. Because he was hardly ever there for his children, the eldest became pregnant out of wed-lock, in hopes that her soon-to-be-husband would continue a loving man, as he was when they were dating. She now suffers verbal abuse (to my knowledge), and does not seem to have the willingness to get out. One of her daughters seems to be suffering some of the same type of abuse from her husband.
These people from the example above are all relatives of mine, and this is only on my mother’s side of the family (not counting my father’s side). It has become a tradition, or a generational curse, to put up with abuse, whichever type it has been.
Why it continues in someone’s life
Abuse continues in a married woman’s life because of the lies she believes, or the truth she has never heard, seen or even gotten the courage to accept.
Quoting from Pastor Juan Perez’s Counseling Principles:
“People do what they do, because they believe what they believe.” A woman who puts up with abuse from her husband believes the lies listed above (and sometimes many more), therefore the abuse continues.
“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten” The problem continues because she makes no changes, and if nothing changes the abuse will continue to get worse.
“Change is not change until there has been change” The woman can tell herself that she intends to leave, that she intends to put a stop to it; that she is tired and fed up, but until she acts on it, the abuse will continue.
“Where there is no consequence, there is permission” The woman’s inaction will prompt the man to continue the abuse; making it more difficult for her to get out, and easier for him to control.
And, just as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, married women deal with abuse and it continues in their lives because “they do not love themselves enough to leave.”
(n.a) Should I leave him? How to identify abusive relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.poweroftwomarriage.com/info/abusive-relationships/
(n.a.) Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships? – www.loveisrespect.org. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay/
(n.a.) Fatherless Women: What Happens to the Adult Woman who was Raised Without her Father?
(n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.trans4mind.com/ counterpoint/index-happiness-wellbeing/kortsch4.shtml
Marisol Lucio is a counselor-in-training, She is two months away from completing her training and requirements to be certified as a Faith-Based Christian Counselor.