Friends In Need: How To Intervene In An Abusive Marriage

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Friends In Need: How To Intervene In An Abusive Marriage [EXPERT]
What you can do to help when a friend is in a domestic violence or abuse situation.

Last month, I received the following letter from an old friend, Lloyd Barnhart. "A topic I would like you to explore is that curious phenomena which permits otherwise independent women to be dominated, and even abused, by males with whom they share some sort of relationship. Why is it that a seemingly strong and intelligent woman would allow herself to be hurt and her life to be altered in a negative way by some guy with whom she has some sort of relationship.

I currently know a couple such women and feel completely helpless with regard to alleviating their problem. I realize you could attack this from another other angle, such as why would a man want to completely dominate a female to the point where she fails to exist as an individual? But for now, help me understand this from the female perspective."

I'd be happy to explore this and I hope the following information answers your questions. Of course, every person involved in violent situations has their own reason for living that way. Usually, women who remain in abusive or violent situations are more afraid of being alone than of being with the abusive husband. She may also be afraid of what he will do if she leaves. She's usually financially dependent on him. If the couple has children, the woman feels even more invested and trapped. She believes she is protecting the children. The more time passes, the weaker, more dependent and "stuck" she becomes. 3 Rules For 'Dropping A Bomb' On Your Significant Other

Abusive men are narcissistic. They have "Jekyll and Hyde" personalities, which means that they can be very charming when they're not being abusive. Women who stay in abusive situations focus on this charm and deny the abuse. They also have experience with their husbands smoothly talking their way out of any misbehavior.

For example, if she called the police about the abuse, her husband could get them to believe nothing was wrong. The woman feels hopeless and helpless. She feels that no one will believe her or help her get out. She is also ashamed and doesn't want people to know her misery. Various women have combinations of all or some of these reasons for staying.

The question that concerns most of us should be, "what can I do to help?" Here are some steps you can take when you believe a friend or family member is in this situation.

1. Get informed about options. Before attempting to help, make sure you know what the options are for the woman and her children. These include finding a domestic violence hotline number, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The number for child protective services, you can ask the operator for your local Child Abuse Hotline and visiting various abuse websites such as Child Help. You can also call 1-800- 4 A Child and obtain numbers for local womens' shelters.

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This article was originally published at Tina B. Tessina. Reprinted with permission.
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Dr. Tina Tessina

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Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
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Location: Long Beach, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MFT, PhD
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