The eternal questions ‘why women stay’ and ‘why women get caught’ are bound together. When we get to the core of why women struggle to leave, and why they return between five to seven times, we find the unspoken core conflict of how they got caught and greater understanding about the gap in our families, friendships, community and professionals.
The list of reasons why women stay (safety, finances, breaking up the family, fear of revenge, children’s safety, home) are important, but they are not the primary reason.
Based on my twenty plus years of working in the field and my personal experience of abuse, I don’t know any woman who has that list ticked off before they leave, or the assurance that the list will resolve. There is an underlying flaw in how we understand and therefore respond to relationship abuse.
Women are taught how to love another and be loving. Women are not taught or encouraged to love themselves and follow their instinct above all else. Immediately women share their concerns of being ‘selfish’ and not ‘being a nice person’ if they prioritise themselves.
We learn a default selflessness and ‘other’ being the reference point from a young age, and so become susceptible to someone who wants to fill our sense of self with their delusion of how to be.
Today I am focussing on one area inside this conflict that is underpinned by knowledge of the involuntary trauma response and how the unconscious overrides conscious choices.
There is no internal conflict when we meet someone and they are completely loving. We move closer.
There is no internal conflict when we meet someone and they are completely nasty. We move away.
There is internal conflict when we meet someone and they are part ‘loving’ and part ‘nasty’. We were never taught how to negotiate this complex and sort out what to listen to. Our internal conflict goes underground into our unconscious.
When we meet the combination of ‘love’ and ‘nasty’, we go into a combination of shock, overwhelm or confusion (trauma response) and our unconscious beliefs kick in to develop defences to keep us alive and accepted, including, pay attention to the ‘nice’ part and minimise the ‘nasty’.
We are left in limbo with our unconscious and trauma response defining our choices, because families have not learnt vital life skills to negotiate trauma, or to engage with our own brain and body, let alone how many professionals are not skilled in recognising trauma or abuse, or how to work with the brain, body and the unconscious to restore connection and integration.
Many professionals attempt through conscious and rational involvement to address trauma, without regard for how the brain body unconscious require us to respond to the trauma and defence system (Malan’s triangle), resulting in temporary results, or compliant clients left passively still in trauma, either returning to abuse or thinking this is as good as it gets.
This article was kindly supplied by Anita Bentata, Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, Trainer and Survivor.
Contact Anita Bentata firstname.lastname@example.org for part two in this article series, or to book in for her next 90 minute live (zoom) exploration on Love Secrets Game-changer. Contact Anita to enquire about her publications and books, or to discuss booking Anita for a talk, expert panel speaker, consultant, workshop or training. +61 438 590 415.