Why do most violent people stay violent

I survived an abusive relationship

I want to talk about violence and I want to do it anonymously. The reason why I want to speak now about the violence that was done to me many years ago is the accumulation of feminicide that seems to be endless. Their fates scream at me. They are screaming that I should finally talk about what happened to me.

The reason I want to remain anonymous is because of the shame that still haunts me when people know that I've been violated in a relationship. I then feel their looks asking me how this could come about. Suddenly you see a weak person in front of you. A victim. A victim of violence. This is what a victim of violence looks like? It doesn't go together. The woman who is so successful. The woman who is in the middle of life. Has achieved so much. How could that happen? Why didn't anyone notice anything? Questions that pierce me with every glance. But I want to talk about my experience of violence and show other women that you can get out of there. One can survive.

Personally, however, I made a crucial mistake at the time: I never reported my violent ex-partner. A decision I will regret forever because I lack the evidence. What remains are the scars of his physical and psychological violence, which can still put my body in tension and fear to this day. Scars that nobody sees, that could only heal through years of therapy - and yet tear open again and again.

Evil - and loving

But I also have something left: strength. I survived. I broke free from this destructive, violent, dangerous, vicious relationship. People who love me have supported me. Protected me Were there when I no longer knew how to escape his beatings, anger and violence.

Violence always comes suddenly and without warning. It is not only black or white, but also gray. All facets of gray. Sometimes darker, then lighter. And because violence is so different, it is believed that the man who practices it can actually change. This man is not consistently angry. He's also repentant, loving, and maybe even the father of your children. It's good for months and then, without warning, utterly bad.

The trigger for his violence is often not foreseeable and the reversal of guilt happens infinitely quickly in a dependent relationship. Who wants to admit that the man you need, who is the father of your own children, is a brutal thug? So you suppress the dark days and see the light ones. You try to concentrate on the sides that are there. Because who will believe you that you hit when you can be so incredibly good and friendly? And on the outside, he's friendly. Too friendly maybe, but nobody questions that. And he's not planning that either.

He beats out of excessive demand and because he has been provoked. At least that's what he says and you want to believe it in order to preserve what still connects and because you don't see a chance to face life alone. You feel guilty. Feels incapable. Doubts his own mental health. Because maybe you provoke him so much that at some point he can no longer. Maybe you actually trigger your violence? And after his blows, he's sorry. So sorry! He begs and pleads and suddenly the violent thug that was in this man is gone. What remains is the man who is good and the father of the children.

Endless horror

But one day his violence knows no bounds. All of his frustration, jealousy and anger are discharged. He speaks of murder if one should actually leave him one day and the deafening noise of his blows, kicks and screams lets the neighbors finally become active. You call the police. When the blue light from outside shines through the half-drawn curtains, you know that there is hope. In a moment people will ring the doorbell and he will pause. He will be turned away. He will submit. The horror does not end there, but it is interrupted. So you stay behind. Painful, humiliated, alone, sad and yet infinitely strong for the children. He continues to terrorize you. Makes threats. It goes on for nights. His messages are full of hate. The insult of the eviction makes him even angrier.

A few days go by. He doesn't answer, keeps his distance. You calm down and don't want to admit what happened that terrible night. The more time goes by, the more blurred the memory becomes. The horror fades. The children ask about their father. Then suddenly he comes back. Standing in front of the apartment door: repentant, insightful and finally ready to really change. He promises. Promises it over and over again. You want to believe it so much. Wanna wake up from this nightmare. Wants the man who remains not to be a thug. That the peaceful part in him finally wins the upper hand. Want that family life that you always wanted. The life that you imagined together with him, the man with two sides, in the good and peaceful hours. You want it so badly. Still, it has to stop.

Education and protection

The man who practices violence is not an apparent monster. But he is convinced that he has the right to take what he thinks he deserves. His wife belongs to him, she belongs to him, this is how it was exemplified for him and this is how it must be in his world. He would rather destroy his wife than let her go willingly. There is no contradiction and no escape. The only chance there is is a social environment that recognizes the signs and, through an endless number of conversations, encourages you to leave, even when you are extremely afraid. The only chance is education, support and protection. The moment of walking is the moment of greatest danger. But the greatest risk also brings the greatest opportunity for a life without beatings, humiliation and destruction. Walking is the only option. The absolutely only option. (N. N., February 13, 2019)

N. N. is a television journalist in Vienna. Your name is known to the editors.

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