Battered Wives and their Children: Walking Away

It may surprise many of us just how many women out there are battered and living with a husband or at least a mate who treats them like garbage and slaves. Some of these women find it difficult to just leave; they’ve psychologically been battered in such a way that it develops a loss of independence.

Personally, I’ve talked so much about my mother and the kind of woman she was to me but I believe I’ve failed to mention that she too was a battered wife when I was very young. She used to be married to a man who was very abusive to her. I was very young at the time but I well remember him well – his name was Alvie. He was an alcoholic who spent most of what he made on liqueur while his family did without.

My memories are hazy at best but from what I was told later in life from my aunt and grandmother described a man who spent most of his time on some drunk binge and when he came home, he was abusive to his wife and her kids, using his fist on my mother and a belt on the children. I remember being whipped for no reason at all, except he just felt like it. My mother had hardly any clothes of her own and wore his instead. It was a nightmare in my life that I choose not to think about too often.

The only reason we escaped this life with him was because my aunt Genene came over to our house one day and being the kind of person she was, she just walked in to find him standing over my mother who was on the bed, beating her. She stood up to him – my aunt was a tough woman – and told him to get his hands off of her. He wanted to know what she thought she was doing just walking in the door like that. She replied that it was her sister’s house and she’d walk in whenever she felt like it. He dared not lay a hand on her anyway; her husband Carl at the time was huge and would have beat Alvie from an inch of his life.

My aunt waited until he was gone and then she drove her husband’s hay-hauling truck, which was a flatbed truck up to our house and told my mother to pack her bags along with us kids’ bags. My mother argued with her that she couldn’t leave him – what would she do without him? My aunt would have none of it and told her that she and the kids could stay with her for a while. I would like to add here that my aunt Genene really didn’t know how to drive a standard transmission truck and it was a jolting experience hanging onto the back of that truck.

I tell this story because it’s very personal – I know about women who’re abused by their husbands from my own experience as an abused child. I also know that there are hundreds of thousands of these kinds of family relationships all across America. Women and their children in so many homes are at the mercy of their abusive husbands who have turned the family home into their own little kingdom where they’re king and ruler and their families are just pawns to be kept under their thumbs.

These kinds of families – particularly the wives, become psychologically dependent on the man because of the way he makes them feel. That feeling is one of low self-esteem, unsure of oneself and their ability to survive outside of that dependent relationship.

According to the National Organization for Women, there are 4.8 million partner-related physical assaults every year.  Less than 20 percent of women seek medical treatment after an assault according to the same organization.

I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg, here in America and all around the world.  Women are unlikely to seek help because they don’t believe there is help and in many cases the women believe if they try leaving, that they’ll just be sought after and brought back.

The children in these relationships sometimes suffer the most over the long haul and it can affect them throughout their lives with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and affect their future relationships and families as the abuse can be passed on down through them.

Walking away is not easy. The reason for this is because the women in these relationships cannot see themselves succeeding. When there is children involved it makes it that much tougher because many of these women have never held a job and are afraid that they can’t support their families without the help of their husbands. This kind of psychological dependency is reinforced by those men through consistent verbal abuse and control.

My mother and we children were fortunate to have a strong woman such as my aunt to see the problem from an outside perspective and intervene; otherwise it’s very likely I would have grown up into adulthood with this man as my stepfather. My mother remarried to a man who – though wasn’t a really great father to me, he at least didn’t abuse his family and was a good provider. Many other women and their children are not so lucky.

We as individuals can do our part by reporting abuse of women and children we know of to the proper authorities. It’s no longer acceptable to simply decide that it’s none of our business. We never know when we might be saving a life or at least the future of so many women and their children.

2 Responses to Battered Wives and their Children: Walking Away

  1. avatar valrfederoff says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Family dysfunction and abuse take many forms. There are even different kinds of alcoholics. And the dysfunction is handed down from generation to generation. Our dysfunction plays a role in all our relationships, including work. I believe the dysfunction of many helped to wreck our economy, nation, and world.

    In my case, I witnessed my mother being abused from time to time. And I witnessed a very loving father from time to time. The intermittent abuse allowed me to deny alcoholism’s role in my own dependence, lack of confidence, and many other unhealthy traits. I always prayed my mother would have the strength to leave. But there were no angels and no place to go.

    In my dysfunction, I married a man who was also dysfunctional. The physical abuse has stopped. The hardest is the financial. We have gone bankrupt several times. Last week he whipped out a credit card to my surprise again. I know in enforcing this boundary I need to leave. Where would I go? How would I pay bills? I can’t pay them with him I can’t pay them without him.

    I feel lost and anxious and sad.

    • avatar fidlerten says:

      Val,
      There always choices and there are places to go. It may take courage and it may seem frightening but if you feel that things are not getting better, then you have to do something.

      You can search online for places to go in your own area. Even the organization I mentioned in my article can give you some guidance if you contact them. I’ll pray for you to have to strength to take that step forward with your life.

      I also got myself in trouble with credit cards years ago. I now no longer use them, only a debit card from my bank. Credit cards can so easily tempt someone to spend money they don’t have and bury them in debt. They’re one of the dysfunctions of our nation and has destroyed so many families.

      I know you’ll make the right decisions for yourself and God will be there to give you the courage and strength you need.

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