Posted: October 17th, 2013
Spousal Abuse and Its Effects
People in abusive relationships, though suffering, have trouble when they try to leave. They often make excuses for partners, sometimes even blaming themselves. For instance, some tell themselves that it must be pressure from their partner’s new job. Making excuses about their partner undergoing a lot of pressure might be an excuse from an abused and battered woman. A clear example of such a case is in the story “The Day It Happened” where Josie kept making excuses for husband’s abuse towards her saying “He can’t help himself. He doesn’t mean it” (Morales 562). In the end, what started as an occasional yelling, turns into a regular battering. The husband constantly finds a reason to abuse his wife, no matter how flimsy. However, not just women are abused in a marriage setup. Men face the same problem. However, the stigma associated with it deters them to speak out. The story in “The Day It Happened” is a perfect case scenario of marital abuse and will be discussed in this paper to show how such abuse can affect the relationship between spouses and the impact it has on friends and neighbors.
The abuse is gradual. Spousal abuse hurts the victim emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. An abuser seeks to control the victim. To do so, he hurts the victim in whatever way he can. It usually starts with a hurtful comment. He will bring the victim down by saying something that will injure them emotionally. Over time, the abuser will feel that the effect of words is wearing off. He may then turn to inflicting shame on the victim, making them feel worthless. This, according to him, ascertains that the victim will never leave since no one will want them. Guilt is another card the oppressor uses. After all the yelling, an abuser will not take responsibility for his actions. He will blame it on the victim, making it look like if it were not for them, he would not have acted the way he did. For instance, in the story “The Day It Happened”, Ramon starts out by yelling at Josie calling her a tramp while blaming her for apparently causing other men to stare at her in the club during their Saturday outings. The abuse gradually grows to throwing things at her and eventually hitting her. He makes her believe that her actions are responsible for making him treat her in the manner that he does (Morales 561).
Sadly, the strategies lay out by the abuser work. He will use them to his advantages and, before long, the victim will feel as useless as he desires. The feeling of helplessness takes over, and the victim feels that they cannot do without the oppressor. Their self-worth is shattered. They feel the oppressor is doing them a favor to be with them, without them they are nothing. A victim never seems to do anything right, no matter how hard they try. Their effort is met with constant criticism and humiliation. This may lead to anxiety, instability and depression. When the first sign of abuse shows itself, whether physical or emotional, the oppressor might appear apologetic and even swear never to do it again. There will be a genuine show of remorse and guilt, prompting the victim to forgive. “He was crying now…he said he never could let her go that she was his whole life that he would die without her…” (Morales 563). However, once it starts, it never stops. Abuse will now seem like a solution to every difficulty faced in the relationship, a scapegoat. If a spouse questions or disagrees with a decision, harm is inflicted on them physically or emotionally. Others go ahead to abuse their spouses sexually.
Victims choose to suffer in silence as they feel no one will care and that they might be to blame. “A common perception of police responses to domestic violence is that they will not take it seriously…” (MacGee 23). They are also embarrassed to speak about it. People around them, mostly family and friends, tend to think they are okay and that their relationship is normal. Some signs would prove otherwise. Bruises may suddenly start appearing on the victim’s body. When asked, they often blame it on a minor accident mainly around the house. They will experience fear and startle easily. The victim may withdraw from family and friends. They may stop from attending social events due to the constant question about the relationship. This is evident in “The Day It Happened” where sometimes after the Saturday fights, Josie feels too ashamed to attend Sunday mass because of fear of others seeing her bruises; hence, Mami stays with her at home (Morales 561). The abuser may prevent the victim from being close to friends and family. Movement may be restricted.
Those who care for the victim are pushed aside while the victim tries to deal with the problem. There is always an excuse for not showing up to a family event. Both the family and friends find themselves lost on what to do since they might not understand what is going on, and what they can do to help. Some feel like they will be meddling in the victim’s business and might end up offending them. They, therefore, choose to watch in silence and hope the situation does not turn worsen.
Children suffer when their parents or family members are in an abusive relationship. The mind of a child is not like that of a grownup. Sometimes they think their parent is abused because of them. They feel like it is their fault. In “The Day It Happened”, one of the reasons Josie leaves Ramon is because she is worried about her child growing up with Ramon as a father. Ramon has too high expectations on everyone and she worried that he might make their child feel inadequate as children feel worthless when their parents think that whatever they do is wrong (Morales 39). Not being able to do anything about it makes the children feel helpless. When a child lives in a house where there are constant arguments and violence, they end up not loving their environment. Going home means going back to the violence. They cannot concentrate on their studies in school since so much is happening in their head. They feel neglected and alone.
No one is there to explain anything to them since they are caught up in the violence and trying to deal with it. This has a long-term effect. Those children that are from an abusive background are more likely to be abusers themselves. Children learn by watching adults. A child will find that the only way to win in or end an argument is by hitting the one with whom he/she is arguing. They tend to be shy and withdrawn. Some develop stomach pains or headaches while some wet their beds. These children later turn to drug abuse.
MacGee, Caroline. Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence. London: Kingsley, 2000. Print
Morales Rosario. The Day it Happened. Exploring Literature. Longman, 2008. 4th Edition. Print.
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