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Why Women Put Up With Spousal Abuse – Sociology Essay Paper

Question: Write a well-reasoned essay in which you set forth seven reasons abused wives “put up with” wife abuse. If you list the reasons, be sure that for each you include enough information to make it clear that you are thoroughly familiar with the “reason why.”

Answer: Women who are abused as wives put up with the abuse for many reasons. One such reason is the fear they have for their husband. Women may be afraid their husband will kill them if they try to leave the marriage. According to the textbook “An estimated 75 percent of murders of women by their male partners occurred in response to the woman’s attempt to leave.” This means there is a very good reason for this fear, because the facts prove that the terror exists.

Another reason women put up with abusive marriages is the cultured norm or norms that exist in our society. The textbook states “our cultural tradition historically has encouraged women to put up with abuse.” It also states that by English common law a man’s wife is his property and he could physically keep her in line if she stepped out. While these laws no longer exist, the ideas do still exist and even though the laws have changed, the tradition continues to live and be practiced to some extent.

Women also stay in physically abusive marriages because of love and hopes for reform. A wife may think she can change her husband’s behavior if she loves him enough or gives him enough support. She also may feel that if she really loves him she should stay with him. By staying with a husband who is abusive, a wife may feel she is showing her true love for him. It’s easy to sit back and see how this is a crazy idea but loves makes the people involved do strange things.

Economic dependence is in my opinion the strongest reason women stay with abusive husbands. I think this because all of the other reasons involve a mental aspect that could be overcome with counseling and other support, but if a woman cannot support herself and especially her children, then all the counseling or support in the world won’t do much good. A wife may feel she cannot support herself and her children without her husband. In many situations, this feeling may be unfortunately true. So the wife decides that staying with her abusive husband is an equitable exchange for the monetary support he provides her and/or her children.

Another reason for a woman staying with an abusive husband is her childhood experience. The textbook reads “Research suggests that people who experience violence in the parents’ home while growing up may have an increased tolerance for violence and regard beatings as part of married life.” The textbook also says that women who were abused as children have a higher tendency to attach themselves to abusive men. This eludes to the idea of the never ending cycle of abuse, which reminds me of song lyrics written by Maynard James Keenan from a song that is about the cycles of abuse. The lyrics go like this:

“Thought I could make it end
Thought I could take the pain away
Thought I could break the circle if I
Slipped right into your skin
So sweet was your surrender
We have become one
I have become my terror
And you my precious lamb and martyr”

Gender roles set up by society, or gendered socialization also can provide reasons for an abused wife staying with her husband. The textbook describes this by saying “women accept the cultural mandate that it is primarily their responsibility to keep their marriage from failing.” By believing this, a wife feels that she is responsible for the relationship, both her actions and her husband’s. It is this belief that leads her to think she should be able to fix the situation. If she cannot then in societies mind and possibly her own she is a failure. So she might stay and give it her best shot, which almost never works out.

Low self-esteem, which seems to be a cause for so many problems, also contributes a cause to the problem of abused wives remaining with their husbands. This causes a woman to place the blame for her husband’s actions on herself. When combined with fear, depression, confusion, anxiety, and other negative emotions, low self-esteem in an abusive relationship helps create the battered woman syndrome. According to the textbook, the battered woman syndrome makes the wife feel “incapable of making any change.” Of course if a person thinks there can be no change, there won’t be, especially if you consider another quote from the textbook that is especially disturbing. The textbook says that “heterosexual men go in (to get help or counseling for their abuse) because they’re court-mandated,” not on their own will or want to change. So if the woman doesn’t force the change, it won’t happen, and the battered woman syndrome defeats almost all hope for change.