Bridget Jacobs was murdered by her husband in Redding, California and her body was found dismembered and dumped in Whiskeytown Lake. Her leg was found yesterday, weighted down with a concrete block. Bridget Jacobs is another victim of domestic violence.
How did this happen? She shared with a coworker that her husband was abusive. Why didn’t she leave? Why did she stay?
These are all good questions. Unfortunately, one out of four women in the United States experience domestic violence and most of them choose to stay. There is a pattern of behavior in abusive relationships and it is called, “The Cycle of Violence”. After the violence happens, there is remorse from the abuser, and he says, “It won’t happen again”. Most of the time blame is placed on the victim from the abuser telling her that it is her fault and she needs to stop doing things or saying things that “Make him do it”. The victim believes him and thinks in her mind, “It is my fault. I just need to be better and not do things that trigger him and then he will not beat me”. He blames her and she feels guilty, as she believes the abuse is her fault.
The next stage is the honeymoon stage. Everything is good for awhile, but as time goes on, the tension builds and the victim is aware of abuser’s behaviors escalating and she walks on eggshells, hoping he stops being mean.
Then, something will trigger him. It can be something very small, but he blows it way out of proportion and blames her for how he is feeling. He explodes into violence and the cycle continues, each time getting worse and worse. She continually gets sucked into his lies that it is all “her fault” and she keeps trying to do better, until sometimes, like in Bridget Jacobs life, it is too late.
Why do women stay? Sometimes there is a lack of support from friends or family and the victim has no where to go. The fear of being alone can be more painful that the abuse, so the victim stays, believing she is worthless and there is no hope.
There are shelters that victims can escape to, like “One Safe Place” (Address: 2250 Benton Dr, Redding, CA 96003, Phone:(530) 244-0118), but the fear of leaving is frightening, as they are threatened with violence if they ever leave.
Women are encouraged to make an escape plan so that when the violent behaviors increase, they have a plan of escape. There is information on the web that will help put a plan together.
If you are in an abusive relationship or you know someone that is, it is important to ask for help. It is not the victims fault and the abuse will not stop. The violence is not about the victim, it is about the abuser. Please seek help and get out, with a “Safety Plan”.
Vickie Parker, LMFT