When a person first is abused and the perpetrator then feels regret, he or she typically asks for forgiveness, and starts acting nice. The victim, who perceives few options and feels guilty terminating the relationship with a partner who asks for forgiveness, does not call the police or file charges and stays in the relationship. There is usually a makeup or honeymoon period, during which the person feels good again about his or her partner. But tensions mount in the relationship, again resulting in stress, anger, and tension release in the form of violence. Such violence is followed by the familiar sense of regret and pleadings for forgiveness accompanied by being nice, etc.
Some people stay in these relationships because the costs of leaving are greater than the rewards of staying. This is the basis of exchange theory. They may have few options – money, job, friends, or family. The abuser has probably isolated them, kept them from working or having close friends. Most women leave many times and come back before they leave for good. They are the most vulnerable after they leave – this is when most deaths occur. It also affects the workplace – how many times have you heard on the news about an estranged husband showing up a woman’s workplace and killing her and other co-workers?
The following is a poem about abuse:
I Got Flowers Today
I got flowers today. It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day. We had our first argument last night, and he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt me. I know he is sorry and didn’t mean the things he said, because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today. It wasn’t our anniversary or any other special day. Last night, he threw me into a wall and started to choke me. It seemed like a nightmare. I couldn’t believe it was real. I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over. I know he must be sorry, because he sent me flowers today.
Last night, he beat me up again. And it was much worse than all the other times. If I leave him, what will I do? How will I take care of my kids? What about money? I’m afraid of him and scared to leave. But I know he must be sorry, because he sent me flowers today.
I got flowers today. Today is a very special day. It was the day of my funeral. Last night he finally killed me. He beat me to death.
If only I had gathered enough courage and strength to leave him, I would not have gotten flowers today.