It's very easy to look, from the outside, at another woman's unhappy relationship and ask: 'Why on earth does she stay with him?'
It's especially easy if the man in question exhibits the subtle charm of Attila the Hun ? or the social graces of Fat Bast*rd in Austin Powers. Some abusive men parade their hostility and prejudices as proudly as if they were merits.
Others are utterly charming and engaging in the social context. And their partners' suffering is compounded endlessly by the incomprehension they meet with, when they finally decide to leave.
"What him? No! I don't believe it!! He's so lovely.'
Strange how mere onlookers should assume they know more than the women who have lived up close and personal with these Jekyll and Hyde figures.
The question, where this group is concerned, is more likely to be: 'How could she leave him?' As if public charm was enough to guarantee their partner's physical and emotional sanity.
Others, who lack the style of the true charmer, simply come across as oily creeps.
In fact, there are no prizes for spotting Fat Bast*rd, Attila the Hun, or the Oily Creep, if you've never been wooed by him.
If, on the other hand, for some reason, you have ever dropped your defences for more than a millisecond, these men will bamboozle you and bind you, in record time, with more chains than Harry Houdini ever had to cope with.
They bind you first with the chains of love and sex, and the chains may ? briefly ? feel as light as garlands of flowers. They bind you, next, with jealousy, power, fear, children, money, isolation, humiliation and contempt.
They bind you so tightly that the struggle to escape exhausts you fruitlessly. And each time you stop struggling, they tighten the chains; through further isolation, humiliation or exercise of power. Until the chains nearly asphyxiate you.
And yet, women stay. They stay because they sincerely believe it is in their children's interest to have two parents. They stay because they don't know that it's not their fault. They believe that they are to blame for everything that has gone wrong in the relationship.
They stay because they have been brainwashed into believing that they are loathsome and their partner is, in some way, admirable. They stay because they believe if they can't make their partner love them, nobody else ever will. They stay because they don't believe they deserve better.
They stay because society is so ignorant about the true nature of domestic violence (be it physical or emotional) that they don't know where to turn to understand what is happening to them.
They stay because they are desperate to be heard, even when they have lost their own voice. They stay because they have been blinded to reality and crushed emotionally by the relationship.
And yet they can, and will, pick up the threads of their life.
The timescale may not sit comfortably with the onlooker. But when you stop to think about the enormous emotional hurdles they must scale, it's no wonder it takes a while.
An NLP Practitioner and Women's Empowerment Coach, Annie specialises in helping women heal the trauma of the past, so they can enjoy the present and look forward to the future.
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