While battering affects all types of women, battered women usually develop some general characteristics due to the abuse they suffer.
Lowered Self- Esteem
This is usually the first characteristic you will see in an abused woman/person. When I was writing for the Body Image Section, many women and men that I spoke to attributed the beginning of their low self-esteem or body image issues to some sort of emotional abuse they suffered from. I whole heartedly believe that if you are told something enough you tend to act that way or believe you are truly what the person is saying to you. My ex’s favorite thing to say to me was to tell me I was stupid all the time. Sometimes still to this day when I make a mistake, I have the tendency to call myself stupid.
Believes She is the Cause
Many, many times the abuser will blame the abused for his actions. How many times has an abuser said “If you would have done blah blah blah, I wouldn’t have hit you” or “You deserved it because you didn’t/did this” or “If you weren’t so (fill in the blank) I wouldn’t be forced to do what I do to you?”
So the abused person resorts to trying to be a better cook, wife, housekeeper, lover, or in my relationship with my ex I tried to become a psychiatrist. But no matter what you so or what you change, your abuser will never change.
Feelings of Guilt
Feelings of guilt usually follow when the abused person feels they have failed to live up to the standards the abuser has set. Guilt can also follow when the abused feels as if they haven’t made the changes that they think are causing the abuse.
As the abuse situation continues the abused may begin to act submissive, passive, docile, dependent, and many feel like they can’t make any decisions about anything. I have read in many places that the abused person takes on these behaviors so they can survive and stay alive. You may take on these to feel as if the abuse lessens. If I acted like I truly cared about my ex when he went into a rage, most of the time the physical or emotional abuse would stop but sexual abuse would ensue.
Often times the abused feelings of anger and fear become so strong that the abused represses those feelings and covers them in denial or may make herself believe things aren’t as bad as they really are. I have received numerous emails from people who want to help someone they love get out of an abusive relationship but the person being abused won’t leave. Is the person insisting things aren’t that bad or things will change? They are in denial.