When an adult stays with her* abusive partner, in awareness that the relationship is destructive and that the limitations of her partner’s emotional control, ability to be objective, respectful and non-violent are plainly deeply problematic and painful; there enters into the relationship an element of codependency. In the case of children, the situation is different. Children are trapped, just like an animal in a cage, or a person in a prison cell. Children have neither the maturity nor the independence, support or resources to flee, to seek help, to try to leave. One of the biggest problem the adult woman faces, however, is the threat that she will be more seriously harmed if in fact she tries to escape or to stand up for herself. Another problem the woman faces, is the lack of support outside her relationship. If she has any family support, she’s lucky. The society offers some support — ‘battered woman’s shelter’ — even the name of which, seems to hold condescension and judgment. A newer term is ‘domestic violence shelter’ which is, of course, a big improvement. A woman doesn’t like to think of herself as having become what she has in fact become: helpless and pathetic.
Still, the woman compromises herself and her integrity when she doesn’t escape, and I believe she knows it on some level. She will rationalize this in her mind. Probably the biggest hurdle and conundrum for her is love. They love each other and probably have nothing else to depend on for this support. Our society hasn’t exactly been one big loving family ready to assist all our brothers and sisters in their moments of need; rather, we are quite isolated in our houses and apartments and if there are millions on the streets without homes, millions in inner city squalor and crime; well most of us are busy trying to survive and pay our gas bill while the rich certainly seem to have other things on their plates, such as trying to maintain their status at any cost.
A further problem for the woman is her own inner strength. Most women even today, don’t have the kind of inner strength it takes to escape, to deal with the harassment, stalking, threats or worse — sometimes much worse, violence and then beyond that, to have to start all over again, from square one, on her own. The difficulty is compounded if she is married, if she is financially dependent, if there are children — or any combination thereof.
But I’m straying.
What I originally had in mind is this. Even with all the formidable obstacles a woman faces when living with or staying with an abusive partner — in regard to leaving; if she is aware of the inherent hell and wrongness that she is living in — and she does become aware of this at some point — then in staying with her partner, there is an element of codependency.
What do I mean?
I mean, she’s feeding the devil.
Until and unless she breaks free, beyond the immediate torturous situation of a life filled with ongoing emotional and/or physical pain, she is actually feeding into the abuse. ’Codependency’ is the byword for this.
And now, similarly, think about a citizenry who is aware that their government is abusive, violent, menacing, deceitful and maybe even evil. Which of course, many many governments — probably by far the majority — over history have been or have become. If a citizen becomes aware that their government is abusive, violent, deceitful — how is that any different than a woman who, aware that she is in an abusive relationship, doesn’t rise up, doesn’t escape, doesn’t object, doesn’t insist on something good for herself, for the kids, for society, for the world and even for that man whom she loves and who himself is certainly tormented?
Is war ok? Is it really ok to kill people; men women children, just like you and me and our kids!! our children…. when it isn’t in self-defense? Is it ok to frighten them, to destroy their homes and their towns and cities and workplaces? Is it ok to assassinate people? What happened to the idea of arrest and fair trial?
Recently a young girl living with her baby in a trailer home, shot and killed a very large menacing man who busted his way into her home. She called 911 first to ask if she could defend herself. They hemmed and hawed, not wanting to advise murder, even in this case.
One problem in regard to government is that to the citizenry, they are a father figure. Most people have hearts — even abusive and abused people, by and large — and they project their own hearts and sensitivity onto others and onto their government. Sometimes it is hard for them to see that their own government’s behavior is heartless, cruel and potentially even evil. I think this was the deeper problem in Nazi Germany. Sometimes it isn’t obvious to people until their own loved one is treated abusively or until they themselves are treated abusively.
* using ‘her’ although sometimes it is a ‘him’