“I had Just graduated from campus and was head over heels in love with this man. I decided to move in with him; It was such a bad idea. He became abusive after only three weeks in the relationship. He would beat me up today and apologise the next. I always covered up his actions and suffered in silence. I felt that I could not live without him.”
Joy Ndurere’s tale is no different from so many others’ but trying to understand why people hold on to toxic relationships is a hard nut to crack.
I mean, Why allow your beautiful self become someone else’s punching bag time and again? Why don’t you just leave? Common sense dictates so, right? Any sane person would ask.
Many people remain trapped in toxic relationships and walking away has never been the easy part even when the situation is in black and white.
It is never a matter of wits; anyone can fall prey to this no matter how strong-willed or educated they are.
And as we applaud victims for walking away, most of them just find a way of disappointing us by walking right back to the same toxic partners. The cycle goes on and on prompting concerned parties to take a backseat and watch the merry-go-round.
“Nobody gets in a relationship to get hurt or walk away the next day,” states Beatrice Muraguri, a counseling psychologist.
“Many victims develop the Stockholm syndrome that makes them empathise with the abuser and they end up taking the blame,” she adds.
So why do people keep crawling back to abusive relationships?
Have you ever heard of the notion that there is a life-long tie between two people who have ever slept together?
Well, Mbugua Mumbi, a marriage counsellor and author says that the main reason people keep going back to abusive lovers is because of the soul-tie. “It is like trying to remove sugar from tea or salt from food,” he says.
“The abuse cycle begins with a honeymoon stage. This is then followed by a tension building stage where the abuser makes the victim feel like they cannot survive without them,” says counseling psychologist Muraguri.
The victim feels vulnerable and unworthy of anyone else other than their abusive partners.
‘”f you don’t know who you are and your capabilities, you look for ways to fill the void. The systems in our society do not help us understand who we are,” says marriage counselor Mbugua Mumbi.
“The systems [often] teach us about the external world, and as a result drive us to look for partners with material possessions instead of those with a strong value system,” says Mbugua.
–Embarrassment and societal pressure–
In an African set-up, walking out of a marriage is still deemed to be shameful. People who get the courage to save themselves walk with their heads hanging low as people around them gossip about their failed marriages.
“Why wait for your death to satisfy the society?” poses Muraguri.
“An abuser [often] forces the victim to cut off communication with loved ones. This then stops the victim from communicating the state of affairs,” says Muraguri
The victim has no one to run to and is only allowed to communicate with few individuals who are incapable of talking them out of the relationship. This usually takes place under the close watch of the perpetrator.
–The daily round–
The victim feels like abuse is a semblance of normality; nothing personal. “The abuser gets in the explosion stage, attacks their partner only for the victim to put the blame on themselves,” says Muraguri.
If you ever find yourself in an abusive relationship, you can always break free from your partner’s ‘Mind Game’. It may not be a walk in the park but it is never worth your life.
Click on the following links to watch an informative discussion discussion on Dealing with missing your abusive partner.