Women were traditionally vulnerable to abusive behavior form the part of men. Nevertheless, in spite of the abusive behavior, women still often carried on and still carry on relationships with their violent and abusive men. At first glance, such abusive and long-lasting relationships seem to be extremely strange, but, on the other hand, they should have some logical explanation, taking into account the scope of such relationships and the frequency of occurrence of abusive relationships. The latter means that many women stay in abusive relationships with their men. They do not divorce even though they suffer systematic abuse from the part of their spouses. In actuality, many women suffer from the violent and abusive behavior from the part of their men but they carry on their abusive relationships that make their life unbearable. In such a situation, the understanding of reasons for such behavior of women and their abusive relationships is crucial for the development of an effective behavior patterns for women that can prevent the risk of the development of long-lasting abusive relationships.
On analyzing the problem of abusive relationships women may be involved in, many specialists (Gauthier, 1996) argue that their submissive behavior and their willingness to carry on abusive relationships and to stay with abusive men is the result of behavior patterns they learn from their childhood and especially adolescence. In fact, many troubles both men and women have originate from their childhood and adolescence.
In this respect, it is possible to refer to the first experience of close relationships between males and females – teenage dating, which hare also vulnerable to the abusive behavior from the part of males. Teenage dating violence is, to a significant extent, determined by the domestic violence as well as the impact of social environment of teenagers and the impact of mass media. The family violence is primarily determined by socioeconomic and cultural background of the family. To put it more precisely, the low income families are more susceptible to the risk of the family violence because the financial restrictions do not allow members of these families to improve their standards of living. Being restrained financially, members of such families tend to project their socioeconomic problems on members of their families (Lyons-Ruth and Jacobvitz, 1999)
The child abuse and family violence produce an extremely negative impact on the development of children and formation of their personality. Children extrapolate this family culture on their own families when they grow adult. Poor socioeconomic conditions, violent behavior of parents, low level of cultural development and consumption of alcohol may be the major factors leading to the child abuse. Hence, it is necessary to minimize risks which lead to the child abuse and family violence in order to bring up a new, highly moral generation, free of violence and child abuse. In fact, the child abuse can provoke teenage dating violence and affect teenagers’ psychology dramatically. The prevention of teenage dating violence begins with the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence along with the attentive approach to children upraising from the part of their parents and educators, who should limit the exposure of children to negative external influences from the part of adults, peers and media.
In actuality, teenage dating violence can have a long-lasting effect on the life of teenagers and, what is more important, the effects of teenage dating violence can be traced even in the adult life of a person (Gauthier, et al., 551). In this respect, it is important to understand that teenage dating is a very process because it contributes to the formation of essential social experience of interaction and intimate relationships between teenagers. In such a situation, the experience teenagers acquire in their adolescence influences consistently their relationships with their partners and spouses in the adult life. To put it more precisely, cases of violence in the course of teenage dating influence consistently the relationships of teenagers. Moreover, the teenage dating violence can provoke the violent behavior of individuals in their adult life because they develop certain models of behavior in their adolescence. Later they extrapolate this experience on their adult life and relationships with other people.
At the same time, the teenage dating violence can have a negative impact on teenagers’ psychology even in the adolescence. Many specialists (Shortt, 92) point out that the teenage dating violence can provoke serious psychological problems in teenagers to the extent that they may suffer from depression. Another psychological aspect of negative effects of teenage dating violence is possible problems in relationships with peers. What is meant here is the fact that the teenagers who suffered from aggressive and violent behavior of their mates in the course of dating are often anxious about their dating experience. Moreover, victims of teenage dating violence can avoid development of close relationships with their peers out of fear of suffering another act of violence in the course of dating.
On the other hand, offenders may grow more and more aggressive and violent in their behavior, if they succeed in dating violence. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that teenagers’ psychology is not stable, whereas their physiological changes make their behavior unpredictable. In such a situation, teenagers inclined to violent and aggressive behavior can manifest their violent inclinations in the course of dating. However, the more frequent are cases of violence, the more aggressive teenagers become because they believe that violent and aggressive behavior is a norm. They grow confident in their power to abuse other teenagers and, thus, they develop violent models of behavior. Potentially, this may lead to the deviant and antisocial behavior of teenage offender who can become juvenile offenders or sociopath because of the systematic use of dating violence.
In such a way, teenage dating violence may have destructive impact on psychology and social relations of teenagers. Teenagers develop different models of behavior and acquire their experience of intimate relationships in their adolescence. If they suffer from the teenage dating violence, they may naturally have problems in their relationships with their mates not only in adolescence but also in their adult life, whereas teenage offenders can become extremely aggressive and violent. Therefore, the prevention of the teenage violence becomes extremely important in terms of the prevention of psychological and social problems in teenagers.
Obviously, as women suffer violent and abusive behavior from the part of their boyfriends in their teens, they extrapolate this experience on their adult life and they may take it for granted that their spouse is abusive and violent in relation to them. The psychological trauma, especially after the first experience of close relationships with representatives of the opposite gender, can provoke long-lasting negative effects on women’s behavior to the extent that they will accept abusive relationships in their adult life and stay with their abusive spouses. Men, in their turn, accustom to the idea that they can abuse women and extrapolate their teenage experience on their adult life too that makes them violent and aggressive in relation to women. Moreover, they attempt to manipulate with the behavior of women and control them. They want to show their authority and superiority that often results in the abusive behavior from the part of men in relation to women.
At the same time, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that many women have a deep-rooted belief that they are responsible for the failure of a marriage (Messner, 261). Therefore, women are not good, if they cannot stay with their husbands. Such attitude to marriage and husbands provokes the maintenance of abusive relationships by women. They believe that they cannot divorce because they ruin their families, while they cannot understand that it is their husbands, who ruin their families through their abusive and violent behavior.
Furthermore, the society stresses gender-related stereotypes and biases defining gender roles, where women remain in the inferior, oppressed position, which makes women vulnerable to abusive behavior from the part of men and they carry on the abusive relationships because they consider them to be a norm. In fact, gender-related biases and stereotypes and gender role have a considerable impact on the behavior of men and women in their relationships and women are in an inferior position because of the dominant biases and stereotypes. Historically, women were oppressed by men and they were in the inferior position. Therefore, they suffer abusive relations and violent behavior from the part of men generation after generation. Naturally, today, some women believe there is nothing wrong that their spouses are violent and abusive and they carry on such abusive relationships (Messner, 272). However, when gender-related biases and stereotypes are denied, women will understand that they should not suffer and maintain abusive relationships. Instead, they just should go to change their life for better.
In this regard, many women are eager to save their family life, even if they suffer systematic abuse (Messner, 270). They believe that if they accept the abusive behavior of their spouses and stay subordinated to their spouses, they will preserve their marriage from ruining. However, such a view is erroneous because, as a rule, abusive relationships between spouses end up in divorce (Messner, 263). In this regard, women fail to understand that they should change the abusive relationships instead of accepting them as a norm but women prefer to accept the abusive relationships for the sake of preserving their families.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that it is women with the low self-esteem, who prefer to maintain abusive relationships because they may believe that they will be unable to start a new life or to re-marry after the divorce. Alternatively, they may believe that all men are violent and they have no escape from abusive relationships. In such a way, women become more and more involved in abusive relationships being unable to stop them and to start a new, better life.
Many women believe that their abusive men will change one day and they will stop being violent and abusive (Messner, 274). In fact, such women prefer to postpone the solution of problems in their relationships believing that one day their spouses will recognize their equality and their significance. However, as a rule, such women are disenchanted because men grow accustomed to the submissive behavior of their wives and they just increase their violent and abusive behavior. Specialists (Messner, 271) point out that the less resistant women are in their abusive relationships the more aggressive and abusive men become. As a result, women should not accept the abusive relationships but they should try to change it but their belief that their spouses can change one day prevent them from radical changes in their personal and family life.
However, today, more and more women decide to stop abusive relationships. They divorce and file lawsuits against their husbands (Shortt, 92). In fact, these women have finally understood that there will be no end to their abusive relationships if they fail to divorce. In other words, they eventually understand the truth that men will not stop being abusive, if women fail to resist them or divorce them.
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of women, who prefer to carry on abusive relationships instead of divorce. In this regard, women are psychologically prepared to abusive relationships because they tend to avoid conflicts and they are submissive in their relationships. Hence, they are ready to carry on their abusive relationships, while men are more aggressive and violent and challenge any manifestation of abuse. Women believe that the abusive behavior of men is normal and they just should obey them.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that, today, many women are vulnerable to systematic abuse from the part of their spouses but they prefer to maintain their marriage and accept abusive relationships, instead of resisting them or divorcing their husbands. In this regard, it is possible to distinguish several factors that determine such submissive and inferior behavior of women in their abusive relationships. First of all, their inferiority and submission in abusive relationships may be the result of a deep psychological trauma, which they may have suffered in their childhood or adolescence. Cases of teenage dating abuse and violence are frequent and women that have had such experience are likely to have serious psychological problems that make them involved in and accepting abusive relationships. In addition, women often believe that abusive relationships are normal. In this regard, they are vulnerable to the impact of gender-related biases and stereotypes. They just suffer from the violent and abusive behavior because they are women and men are men. Therefore, they just perform their gender roles, which they take for granted. Finally, women come psychologically prepare to abusive relationships because of their personal experience, gender roles and pressure from the part of the society. However, women should apparently change their position and put the end to abusive relationships.
Gauthier, L. et al. “Recall of childhood neglect and physical abuse as differential predictors of current psychological functioning,” Child Abuse and Neglect, 20, 1996, 549-559.
Messner, M. A. “The limits of ‘the male sex role’: An analysis of the men’s liberation and men’s rights movement’s discourse.” Gender and Society, 12, 1998, 255-276.
Shortt, D. M. “Gender and technology: Looking to the past.” Canadian Women’s Studies, 17, 1998, 89-93.