Abuse against women is all too prevalent in our society. Abusers in intimate relationships hurt women for various reasons, including learned behaviors, cultural inequities, and drug or alcohol addiction. As people worldwide seek to combat these behaviors, the question is often asked: Why would a woman remain in an abusive relationship? Why do women get out of an abusive relationship only to find themselves in another one? Why do some women seek validation from those who are abusive? It almost seems as though they are looking for love in all the wrong places.
Abuse Comes in Many Different Forms
The phrase “love hurts” was not created to justify domestic or intimate partner abuse. There is never a situation where abuse of any kind is okay. Women are most commonly the victims of intimate partner abuse. While abuse is most commonly associated with violence, there are actually many different forms of abuse, including:
- Verbal or emotional
- Sexual, including coercion
- Human trafficking
Reasons Why Women Choose to Stay
Why would a woman stay in a relationship where there is abuse of any kind? Fear is a significant factor, as abusers often threaten and intimidate their victims. Most women will say that it is love, but that is not a healthy form of love. More often, the most significant factor is low self-esteem. There are so many reasons why women have low self-esteem:
- Growing up in an abusive home – women who witness abuse learn that abuse is acceptable and that women are less-than
- Being bullied – women who have been bullied online or in real life develop poor self-esteem
- Comparing themselves – women often have body image issues, eating disorders, and more due to comparisons to other women
- Cultural and societal beliefs – in most cultures, men dominate women emotionally, intellectually, physically, and sexually, creating ideas of inferiority in women
- Being abused - low self-esteem is a consequence of being abused
Why Women Are Repeat Victims of Abuse
When a woman has low self-esteem, she seeks validation, particularly in intimate relationships. Her sense of self-worth does not allow her to consider partners who are healthy and would create a loving relationship. Instead, she finds someone who enables her low self-esteem and will abuse her in one or more forms. This continued abuse, in turn, sustains and damages her self-worth even more.
If her partner leaves her or she gets out of the relationship, she will most likely find another partner who will abuse her in some form. Low self-esteem creates a never-ending cycle of abuse that can extend to other relationships, including those with friends and families.
What Are the Effects of Abuse on Women?
Abuse is a form of trauma that has long-lasting effects on emotional and physical health. In addition to the loss of self-worth and low self-esteem, abused women are at high risk for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Women who have experienced trauma outside of a relationship are also more likely to look for love in all the wrong places and end up in abusive relationships.
Trauma also causes chronic physical illnesses such as heart problems, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and many autoimmune disorders like chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Chron’s disease. There is also a likelihood that this will cause trauma for children who witness abuse in the home, creating a multi-generational cycle of abuse that is difficult to break.
Coping With Abuse Through Drugs and Alcohol
Many women who experience abuse in any form will try to cope by using drugs or alcohol. An intimate partner may also coerce them into using substances they did not want to. Substance use can lead to addiction either way, which only compounds a woman’s problems.
Recovering Self-Esteem and Healthy Relationships
When a woman with addiction chooses to seek treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, there are added benefits to achieving sobriety. Through treatment, especially therapy, women can recover their self-esteem by learning acceptance and self-love.
Treatment for substance abuse is overall healing, including the mind, body, and spirit. This includes healing from abuse and trauma and developing self-confidence. Learning improved communication and how to set and keep boundaries in treatment improves your ability to establish healthy relationships of all kinds.
This also creates a foundation to seek and find healthy romantic partners who can build healthy relationships with you. When you heal from addiction and trauma and develop healthy self-esteem in recovery, you are capable of looking for love in all the right places.
Women with low-self esteem can find themselves in abusive relationships. Even when they are able to escape one relationship, they often find another one. The trauma of abuse can cause health problems and drug or alcohol abuse, leading to addiction. Healing from addiction includes developing healthy self-esteem, which is an important tenet of treatment at The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women in Costa Mesa, California. We offer residential treatment for women with addiction and co-occurring disorders using evidence-based practices. Our commitment to healing finds its roots in education, creating self-awareness, a necessary trait for successful recovery. We use the principles of prosperity, wealth, joy, and abundance through the lens of recovery to help you realize that you are worth receiving all of those gifts in life. If you are seeking to make a difference in your life by healing from substance abuse, please contact us today at (714) 581-3974.