Domestic violence is one of the dirty secrets that many people like to ignore. They convince themselves it only happens to strangers. But the truth is that 3 women A DAY are killed by the hands of their husband or boyfriends. Are you aware that, nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. They come from all walks of life and could be your daughter, sister, friend or neighbor. So why would a woman stay with a man who is hurting her?
Aurea McGarry, successful entrepreneur and author of the new book “I Won’t Survive…I’ll Thrive,” believes that many women become stuck in physically and verbally abusive relationships because they don’t immediately recognize what’s happening.
“The first thing an abusive man does is separate his spouse from her friends and family and keep her isolated,” says McGarry. “By the time you begin to understand that you’re in an abusive relationship, he’s cut out the legs of your support system.”
McGarry speaks from experience. Her first marriage to a pastor’s son ended badly. She says her ex-husband was physically and verbally abusive. Prior to their wedding when they were just dating, she misinterpreted his jealousy for attentiveness.
That naivete is a contributing factor to the current epidemic of teen dating violence. Often, teenage girls don’t realize that their boyfriend’s behavior is abusive; they believe it is normal or a part of being in love so they continue the relationship.
Health experts point to the growing problem of teen domestic violence as a link in a vicious cycle. An estimated 3 million American women are abused each year. Because children are witnessing verbal or physical abuse in their homes, they begin to believe it is acceptable. Once they begin dating, many of them emulate the relationships they saw as kids.
“I think we need to begin as early as elementary school, teaching children what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment of their fellow humans,” says McGarry. “It should be instilled in young girls that violence is not acceptable and love is not supposed to hurt you.”
Another factor that often keeps women trapped-aside from fear-is a lack of self-esteem. They may believe they deserve this type of treatment; that if they only did things better the abuse would stop. McGarry says starting her own business gave her a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. The recognition she received from colleagues boosted her self-esteem and helped push her in a different direction; away from her husband. She says after leaving him, she came to an amazing realization: no matter what she tried doing to please him, it wouldn’t change his abusive ways.