Let us delve into a two-part series that looks into what long term abuse can do: psychologists have an overview on this:
Serious, long-term domestic abuse can result in a mental disorder called Battered Woman syndrome.
With battered woman syndrome, a woman may develop a learned helplessness that causes her to believe she deserves the abuse and that she can’t get away from it. This is in many cases, why women don’t report their abuse to police or avoid telling friends and family what’s really going on.
Battered woman syndrome is serious, and it’s taken into account in homicide cases when women murder their abusive partners in developed countries.
Denial: The woman is unable to accept that she’s being abused, or she justifies it as “just being that once.”
Guilt: She believes she has caused the abuse.
Enlightenment: In this phase, she realizes that she didn’t deserve the abuse and acknowledges that her partner has an abusive personality.
Responsibility: She accepts that only the abuser holds responsibility. In many cases, this is when she’ll try to escape the relationship.
How does it develop?
Battered woman syndrome is caused by sustained and serious domestic abuse. Domestic abuse typically follows an extremely predictable cycle, as follows:
The abuser will win over the new partner, often moving quickly into a relationship with tactics like “love-bombing,” grand romantic gestures, and pressuring for commitment early.
The abuser will be emotionally or physically abusive. This often starts small, like a slap instead of a punch, or punching the wall next to their partner.
The abuser will feel guilty, swearing they’ll never do it again, and be overtly romantic to win their partner over.
There will be a temporary “honeymoon” period, where the abuser is on their best behavior, luring their partner into thinking that they’re safe and things really will be different.
Abuse occurs, starting the cycle all over again.
Check out the next post for part 2.