Psychological Self-Help

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up) keeps women from breaking away from the abuser. Celani (1994)
suggests that both the abuser ("she can't leave me") and the abused ("I love
him") have personality disorders, often originating in an abusive childhood. 
There are many sources of information about “why women stay,” but a couple
of the best and most comprehensive books are It Can Happen to Anyone by
Alyce LaViolette (2000) and Broder, M. S. (2002). Can your relationship be
saved? How to know whether to stay or go. Also, do a search for “why women
stay” on Google. I’d like to add one more factor: breaking up, failing at
marriage, getting a divorce, and living alone are all viewed negatively, almost
as if people think there must be something wrong with you. It seems like
people expect divorced person to be miserable, poorly adjusted, and a failure
in many ways. Of course, if that is single-ness people would dread making
such a move. But my impression is that being single is a much happier state
than people expect it to be. I’ve heard it expressed that single-ness involves
feeling “I can stand on my own,” “I’m free to do what I damn please today,”
and “taking care of myself is better than having to meet someone else’s
needs.” Those feelings sound great…and one can still have wonderful, close,
caring relationships.
Abused women leave an average of 10 times before they successfully break
away. It is hard for many women to permanently leave. Perhaps the main
reason women stay in an abusive relationship or come back to it is because
they have hopes it will get better. They also sometimes return to a bad
relationship because some fear for their lives. It is not uncommon for women
to be stalked, harassed or threatened (or have their children threatened) as
they are leaving or after they have left. There are, in fact, serious dangers to
be guarded against. 
At best, “breaking up” is very stressful. I consider it very important that
everyone thinking about leaving a relationship get a therapist…or at least
have a close, dependable friend to talk to. If you don’t have a therapist or a
good friend, please seek help (bluntly ask for it) from someone who has been
through a divorce and has the time/interest to help you through the process,
starting ideally some months before the break up and continuing for months
after separating. I emphasize having someone to talk to because everyone’s
situation is different and the decisions you need to make are unique to you
(hardly something I could write to you in a book). For example, you may
need to accumulate some money before leaving, to arrange a place to stay or
for transportation, to know where you can hide if physical harm is threatened,
etc.
Can abusers change?
Gondolf (2000) did a long-term follow up of a treatment program for male
batterers to find out what techniques seemed more effective in reducing
assaults. About 53% of the subjects reported using “interruption methods”
(stopping arguments or fights) to prevent further abuse, 19% relied on
“discussion methods” (turning to a less intense and more constructive talking)
to aid anger control, and a small 5% relied on increasing their “respect for
women” to increase their self-control. That 5% seems like a very low number
considering the follow up lasted for 15 or more months; however, 20% of the
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