This was a question asked to me recently by my estranged husband. "Why do you think that women are stupid?" I asked him while continuing to read a book. "Because they prove it every day!" was his reply as he stormed out of the house. He may have a point.
Every woman, young and old, knows some other woman who is involved with a jerk; to put it mildly. If you are reading this thinking, "I don't know anyone like that" then you are that woman. I know, you think I can't possibly be referring to you, so read on and prove me wrong.
Here is a little scenario: A woman, we'll call her Jane, meets a guy, Joe. Joe is really nice and fun to just hang out with, then things start to evolve and they become a couple. Everything is great and then one day after Jane has to work late, or goes out with some friends, or spends some time with her family, or maybe nothing unusual at all, but Joe becomes enraged and lashes out in some way. Jane is confused. This is not how Joe typically acts and she starts to rationalize, thinking "He's had a bad day"; making excuses for him even though he's made no excuses for himself. Oh, he may have said "I'm sorry" or "It'll never happen again" sometime afterward, but it does happen again, and this time he does have an excuse. Jane. If she hadn't burned the food, or forgot to tape his show or had a friend over, or any number of other things, he wouldn't have gotten upset. After all if Jane really loved him, she would stop doing things that upset him. Jane starts thinking "Would Joe mind if I did this?" before anything she does in an attempt to please him. But nothing is good enough and Jane starts to believe she's the worthless-idiot that Joe calls her. Pretty soon the only person Jane knows is Joe. Jane got lost somewhere; Joe's world is her world. There's one small part of the real Jane screaming at her to leave, but most of the time she can't hear it over Joe's barbed words. But sometimes she can and she packs a small bag, grabs her purse, reaches for the door and stops. She stands there staring at the doorknob, her hand shaking, thinking "What if he's right? What if no one else would have me? Where am I going to go anyway? He wasn't always like this. If I could just be better, he would stop getting mad." and she turns around, puts her clothes away, making sure there's no evidence of her attempt to leave.
I happened to see an episode of COPS recently where a woman had called because her husband had beat her. He ultimately was placed in custody and, while in the police car, he started banging his head against the side window. The woman, who had wanted this man out of her house; this man who had beaten her and bloodied her face, is pleading with the officers to let him go.
Are Jane and this woman from COPS stupid? No, they are not. Frightened, taken advantage of, compassionate, caring, selfless, loyal and confused? Yes. Stupid, never. Unfortunately, many people do think these women are stupid; shaking their heads while passing their judgment. For an assignment in a sociology class I had years ago, I had to conduct a survey and then reveal my findings. One of the questions I asked was: Do you think it is a woman's fault for being physically abused? Everyone responded 'No'. The other question was: Do you think it's a woman's fault for not leaving an abusive situation? Everyone responded 'Yes'. Granted this was just some class assignment, but I believe it is interesting that everyone who took the survey believed it was the woman's fault for staying in an abusive relationship. People just cannot understand what it is like to be in that situation. It's the equivalent of brainwashing. Leaving just feels wrong. I know you're thinking, "And being hit and demoralized nearly every day feels right?" Well, in a way it does; it's the only thing a woman in an abusive relationship knows. More than that, it's a sure thing, a certainty. If she leaves, she'll feel all alone in a world full of uncertainties. Which is scarier than knowing that, no matter what, he will beat her down in some way.
Even as I write this, I'm afraid. Afraid I'll never find a 'decent guy'. Afraid I am unworthy of anyone. Afraid I'm all those nasty things he's called me. He's already found someone, so that must mean there's something wrong with me, right? I hear that little voice yelling at me to get away. Funny, he's not even here; yet, I'm still being beat down.
I think about calling him and then I remember why I'm writing this; his question. He asked me it after drinking a liter of wine, a bottle of whisky, with some soda, and yelling at his girlfriend on the phone for an hour, berating her, getting angry when she didn't answer the way he wanted her to or thought she should. Twisting her words the way he used to twist mine. As much as I feel sorry for this woman, I thought, "Thank God it's not me." This woman actually befriended me before I found out about them. Even though I felt more betrayed than I did my husband, I called to talk to her, and warn her; make her understand. She wasn't listening because she knows she could help him and, more importantly, change him. For her sake, and her children, I sincerely hope she does.
Still, I want to talk to her again. I want to for the same reason I hope that you try to talk to the person you know of in an abusive relationship. I say person because I know that men are the victims of abuse as well. No matter how many times they say, "I'm leaving for sure this time!" and don't follow through, and no matter how frustrated it makes you to see your friend continue to get hurt; don't give up. You may be the only person they feel they can turn to.
As for me; I'm still lost, but I can see some bread crumbs on the path ahead.