The media often portray abused women as weak. Therefore, strong women who are in abusive relationships go into denial mode because they don’t want to experience the emotions of shame and humiliation that result from being viewed this way. They also want to continue to see themselves as independent women. Contrary to these negative stereotypes of abused women, a lot of abused women are strong and independent. Abusers tend to target strong women to abuse because strong women threaten their need to be in control, which makes them out of control.
Men don’t accept responsibility for abuse when we blame women for the violence by deeming them weak. Through this negative portrayal, victim-blaming becomes the norm. Therefore people keep a safe distance from abuse because if you are a strong woman, you won’t have to worry about being abused.
Abuse can happen to anyone. Violence is not specific to a race, religion or ethnicity. Violence is a human problem, and we’re all humans.
The first step to escaping an abusive situation is acceptable, but you won’t be able to accept anything if you’re in denial.
Here’s why victims go into denial mode about abuse:
Victims want to avoid the “physical or emotional pain, fear, shame or conflict,” and deny the injury because of “self-preservation and the fear of being punished,” in this case, the self-punishment.
2. Coping mechanism
Denial helps victims cope with the overbearing emotions of the traumatic circumstances in a manageable way, by slowly, over time, absorbing what is happening to them.
3. To hold onto the Utopia
Every child wants to believe the fairytales are real; that Father Christmas exists and so does the Tooth Fairy. The idea of grappling with whether your family loves you is something that never even crosses their mind, so we make excuses for our parents’ bad behaviour. We need to believe that the people we love, love us too.
4. It’s what you know
Fighting, arguing and violence was the norm in your home, and you got used to that manner of interaction amongst people. It’s where you are comfortable, so you don’t question it.
5. Don’t know how to fix it
If you deny that there’s a problem, there’s nothing to fix. Therefore, denial protects the victim from feelings of weakness.
Denial has its place in dealing with abuse, but it cannot be a permanent position. Victims must eventually decide to protect themselves and escape.
For more information on denial, read the full article here.