Many women find it hard to imagine that they are being abused by their partners. Part of the struggle has to do with the negative stereotype our culture has of ‘battered women’ and ‘abusive men’. If neither you nor your partner fit the stereotype, it may be even harder to imagine that you’re actually being abused.
Women who are being abused by their partners are like any other women. Some are professionals, some are homemakers, some are wealthy, some are poor. Women who experience abuse come from all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. In the same way, abusive men don’t always fit the stereotype. The stereotype is of men who are monstrous and volatile. It does not reflect that these men are often affectionate, charming and sociable, Some men even appear to be progressive in their attitudes about women.
The stereotype of an ‘abused woman’ may prevent women from being able to describe or identify their experiences. You may have struggled between your experience of abuse and the negative stereotype of an ‘abused woman’. We encourage you to pay attention to your experiences rather than to the stereotype. Here is one woman’s experience of this…
As I started to read about abuse and attend my support group for women I had very conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it was good to finally figure out what was really going on in my relationship. On the other hand, I struggled with feeling ashamed that somehow this had happened to me. I was also scared that if I really admitted that I ws being abused, I would then have to leave my partner. That was something I really didn’t want to do. Looking back on it now, I realized that those conflicting emotions were only natural and all I could do was be patient and gentle with myself.