Common Victim Attitudes and Beliefs
Low Self Esteem and Feelings of Shame – Many times, victims feel that they have attracted a batterer or that they may have developed a “pattern’” of getting into relationships with abusive partners. Repeated insults, threats, put-downs and verbal trashing wear down a victim’s mental energy to fight back or to keep up a positive image. Victims are trapped by shame, having a negative influence on the self, relationships with others and emotional experiences.
Blames Self for Abuser’s Actions – “If I didn’t do that, then I wouldn’t get hit,” or “My partner only abuses me when I do something wrong,” or “I shouldn’t have made my partner angry enough to hit me,” are classic statements. It not only comes from the victim, but also is often mirrored by the abuser, who reminds the victim that the abuse is a result of failure on their part. The way the abuser reacts to disappointment, anger or rage is a personal choice by the abuser, NOT something brought on by the victim. The decision to abuse and the responsibility for the violence ALWAYS rests with the abuser.
Is A Traditionalist About the Home – Victims strongly believe in family unity and the prescribed feminine role stereotype, especially in certain ethnic groups, cultures, or religions. Victims living within these structures are often the most at-risk, because their abusers firmly believe they have a RIGHT to treat a victim this way, AND friends, family and religious leaders to whom a victim may turn to for guidance and support reinforce this belief.
Suffers From Guilt, Yet Denies Feeling of Terror and Anger – A victim may feel disappointment in themselves for their inability to predict when abuse will occur. (By the way, this is another tool used by an abuser to keep the victim off balance.) Victims feel guilty by “letting things get this far,” so that they cannot get out of the relationship. Guilt leads to denial, by not only covering up or minimizing the abuse to convince themselves that, “It’s only a scratch”, “It doesn’t happen that often”, or “It isn’t really that bad”.
Severe Stress Reactions with Psychological and Physical Complaints –Victims who experience domestic abuse over time show increased headaches, panic attack, heart attacks, nervous disorders, stress syndromes, depression and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Belief There is No Hope and Fears Reaching Out for Assistance – This belief may be planted by the abuser trying to convince the victim that if assistance is sought, the abuser will know. They convince the victim that they have friends in law enforcement or courts, or may threaten more violence or even death of they learn their partner is seeking help. Over time, the victim becomes convinced that their situation is hopeless and gives up.
Victims refuse help by making excuses (“can’t fit into my schedule”), dispose of helpful brochures/books/referrals, or may avoid those who are trying to help.
Seek help by talking with a trusted friend, relative or the clergy, contacting a shelter or social service agency, or calling the LaSalle Parish Victim Advocate at 318-992-2067.