Recognizing her entrapment
“Why doesn’t she just leave?” A question many of us ask in reaction to a story of intimate partner abuse. Too often I hear this statement in my recovery groups from women with controlling partners: “Why didn’t I just leave?”
This reaction speaks to the core of the problem and the erroneous belief that an abused woman has agency — a capacity to exert power — in her relationship, when just the opposite is true.
From research, we know that psychologically abused women score lower on self-efficacy, which is how empowered a woman feels to have influence over her life, than women who are not abused.
Women with controlling partners experience a slow, insidious, and nearly invisible condition of coercion that entraps them in their intimate relationships. So well hidden, this entrapment can go undetected even by the woman herself.
Being unaware of what is taking place, women naturally minimize and deny the problems with their intimate partners.