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Domestic violence can follow the script of brainwashing

Domestic violence victims often get asked why they just don't up and leave their abusers. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every woman's circumstances, one survivor of an abusive relationship offers her take on it.

Her own experience parallels what brainwashing victims endure: the mental and physical shattering of the core of self that causes the person to question their own self-worth and very identity. Then the abuser moves on to shift the blame and guilt for the attacks to the victim, saying that she "made" him do it, and it was all her fault that she got slapped around again.

The companion of guilt is shame, and when it moves in, it can cause a victim of domestic violence to betray themselves through self-destructive acts. They don't want anyone they love to see them like this, so they become complicit with their abuser in cutting themselves off from support systems.

When the abuser knows their victim has nowhere now to turn, he ramps up the psychological attacks, using "gaslighting" techniques that cause them to question their own sanity and perception of reality.

Because this is unsustainable for too long, the abuser knows just when to offer a shard of hope -- some small kindness to dangle that keeps the victim hanging on. Pretty soon they are so desperate for these brief moments of leniency that they adopt their abuser's belief systems and values. Now the whole of the self has been subsumed into the new identity created out of violent abuse. He has her right where he wants her to be.

However, the cycle can stop right here. Help is out there. If you are being victimized by domestic violence, a Massachusetts family law attorney can help you file for a protective order and begin the process of breaking free of your abuser.

Source: Huffington Post, "8 Steps that Explain 'Why She Doesn't Leave'," Crystal Sanchez, accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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