There is a difference between violent men and men who are violent towards women. If you refer to domestic violence it is not women who repeatedly choose to live with men who physically abuse them. It is men who repeatedly create violent relationships with women. It's a myth that women go from one violent relationship another, most women don't. Women are victims of violence because of their sex. On a societal level women are subordinate to men and men's violence against women is a symptom of the prevailing inequality between the sexes. Women from all structural groups in society are vulnerable and exposed to domestic violence. The main reason women stay in a violent relationship is the fear of what her partner might do to her if she tries to leave him. If there are children involved, a worry might also be what will happen to them. In fact, most women have tried to leave their partner on a numerous occasions before they succeed. Domestic violence is preceded by gradually increasing psychological abuse and control which makes it even harder for women to get out of the relationship. Included in the pattern of control is financial control and the woman seldom has access to her own money.
Women who have gone through this process tell stories very similar to each other. Here are a few signs to look out for:
Attitude towards women: What does he say about women in general, how women dress etc? How does he value women? Does he appreciate female colleges? If he is degrading and disrespectful towards women in general, he will probably treat you the same way.
Men who show signs of exaggerated jealousy has a strong need for control. Be especially on the look out if he starts to make you responsible for his feelings. If you skip your girls-night-out because of his attitude he is starting to control your behaviour.
Does he get into a rage and break things in your home? These are violent acts with the purpose of scaring you.
Isolation: When the process of isolation begins you can see patterns in his behaviour. He might give you a lift to and from work/school. If you work he wouldn't mind you cutting down your hours, he wants you to spend as much time with him as possible. He won't let you go to parties or meet up with your friends on your own. You start to loose contact with your friends since he doesn't like you seeing them. Most of the time he doesn't tell you what to do out loud, but by his reactions for eg. turning cold or grumpy, you get the message anyway.
Loss of control: In the beginning it's a question of him deciding everything in every situation, even if it's about you and your life. He decides what you do and what you talk about when you are together. Eventually you don't get to have your own opinion and in the end he is controlling everything -what you think, say and do.
If you or someone close to you are being abused there are a few things you can do:
Keep a secret diary: Write down every time he threats or hits you. It is difficult to remember afterwards what really happened. You might keep this diary at work or somewhere else where he has no access.
Tell someone: Tell someone you trust what you are going through. Even if you don't have the strength to do anything about it at the time, at least someone knows the situation.
Write down and try to take photographs of the injuries. If you go to your doctor always ask for a photograph to be taken. You don't have to use them but they will still be there if you decide to go to the police one day.
Don't think it's not going to happen again:
Arrange a way of getting out so that you can leave home any time of the day. Contact a women's shelter, a friend or a relative. Ask someone close to you for a key to their home so that you always have somewhere to go.
Contact a Domestic Violence Shelter:
At a women's shelter they believe in your story and they will help you the day you decide to leave him. They can support you in contacting the authorities if you need a hidden identity, new housing etc. You will also meet other women with the same experiences and you can find support and friendship.
Go to the police:
Don't accept what he is doing to you. Violence against women and children is a crime. For your own sake, and so that he will realize what he is doing is wrong, turn him in.