Domestic Violence and Choice Theory

Domestic Violence violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.

Are you being hurt by someone who’s supposed to love you? Do you think you are asking for it? Do you live in fear of it happening again? Will you stay or will you go?

If there are people in your life telling you what you should do, by all means, listen to their opinion. Just remember that everyone has an opinion; it doesn’t mean their opinion is the right thing for you. You are the only person who can make that decision. After all, you are the person who will need to live with the consequences of your decision.

Love is not supposed to hurt. If a person in your life is causing you physical harm in the name of love, this is a lie. Love does not motivate a person to inflict pain on another person—power, control, fear and insecurity do. You are never to blame when another person decides to hurt you. I do not care if you are male, female or other, no one has the right to physical hurt someone under the guise of love.

Despite the words above, you may still believe you deserve to be hurt. Maybe you think you do things to upset the other person. Maybe you are filled with excuses for the person you love—their emotions, health, or history justifies their actions. After all, they apologize and say it will never happen again. While it may be true that your loved one regrets his or her actions, you were never to blame. If your abuser is genuinely remorseful, perhaps he or she will get the necessary help to stop acting in violence.

In the meantime, what do you do? You’re walking on eggshells, trying to prevent the domestic violence that was never your fault in the first place. How did you come to believe you deserve to be punished? There are many reasons for this, but it often stems from a childhood trauma and believing things your parents may have said about you. This makes it easier for you to believe the lies your partner tells you about yourself in terms of being unlovable, worthless and so pathetic no one else would ever have you. How do I know this? Because it is the script of abusers who are terrified you will leave, so they tell you lies to keep you close. Don’t believe them.

If you are still reading this article, then maybe you’re ready to consider whether you should stay or go. This is a major decision. You may love your abuser. If you are married, you may be concerned about breaking your wedding vows. You may believe if you leave, your tormentor may kill you. He or she may have threatened that already and you believe them.

You basically have three options. No one should be telling you which to choose—that is your decision. You can change it, accept it, or leave it. Changing can involve hoping, dreaming and praying that one day, he or she will stop hurting you. This can happen, but consider how long you have already waited and determine how much longer you are willing to wait. If you are willing to wait forever, then that’s what you’re going to do. Nothing will change your decision.

You can also try to change what you do in the situation. Since there is nothing you are doing to cause the abuse, there is not much you can do to stop the abuse, but you might be able to change things by talking to other people. Don’t keep the secret anymore. You know this is a risky option, but your abuser can continue hurting you because you are isolated and you keep the secret. The more people who know and keep an eye on you and the situation, the harder it will be for him or her to continue. Another way to change the situation is with a safety plan. Anyone who opts to stay in a domestic-violence situation needs a safety plan. According to NBC news, three woman die in the U.S. every day at the hands of their intimate partner (

Accepting is to accept the fact that the person you are living with uses violence as a way of getting what he or she wants and it’s not likely to change. Can it change? Of course, but it won’t just because you want it to. The person you love is an abuser and you stop trying to change him or her—you accept that this is who he or she is. Once you accept that, then you decide how you want to be involved with him or her. Do you want to continue to live the way you have been, supporting the person, loving them and finding excuses for their behavior? Do you want to distance yourself as best you can while keeping yourself safe? Or do you want to end the relationship?

Leaving can be done mentally or physically. If your decision is to leave physically, you can go to a shelter where your location will be kept from your partner and you will be safe. Be careful if you choose this that you don’t tip off your partner so he or she can prevent you from leaving. Leaving mentally means going through the motions of being married without feeling emotionally vested in it.

What’s the right decision for you? No one can know. There are no crystal balls to tell your future; you need to make that decision for yourself and live with the consequences of that decision. There are two things I implore you to do regardless of your decision: 1) attend to your safety first and 2) enlist the help of your support system. If you don’t have a safety plan, make one. If you don’t have a support system, create one. Do not become a statistic of domestic violence. You are worthy of love without pain.

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