How can many battered women forgive their abuser over and over again? This question has multiple answers, most of them already studied from psychology, sociology, and other disciplines.

Why is this deeply linked to the education received from women throughout the story, the secondary role imposed by society over the years, and the shadow of this behavior marked in the cultural DNA? But there are also some reasons closely linked to behavioral learning, which have a clear and clear cognitive explanation.

Abused Women Who Forgive: Learned Helpless

Today, in order to understand a little better the reason for certain behaviors carried out by women victims of macho abuse, we will explain one of the multiple reasons why a woman may not respond to a situation of abuse, as most of us think we would. We talk about Learned Helplessness.

The learned helplessness in a battered woman is nothing more than an alteration in the cognitive function of a woman that generates passive behavior in the face of a series of events that she perceives as uncontrollable.

This makes it very difficult for battered women to find optimal ways to end a violent relationship, mainly because their cognitive function of attention is focused on staying alive.

A person learns not to defend himself when he firmly believes that fighting to this abuse situation will not stop the aggression of the other. Therefore, women stop trying to this situation and unconsciously create coping strategies to live “safely” within this ill-treatment situation.

When a woman suffers from learned helplessness, her behavior is based on reducing pain, but not stopping aggression, because she feels that the cause of the events is totally external to her control, and since she can do nothing to stop that situation, she simply expects it to happen.

The Role Of Attribution Style

One of the risk factors of learned helplessness is attributional styles. These determine the way we usually explain the different things that happen around us. Generally, people with a positive attributional manner tend to appreciate the medium as predictable or controllable. This sense of control makes us maintain our level of self-esteem.

However, people with learned helplessness, as we have commented, have a negative attributional style, perceiving as unpredictable and uncontrollable the situations that surround them, thus looking undervalued their self-esteem.

People in this situation underestimate the degree of control they actually have.

The Emotional Repercussions

On the other hand, the consequences of the learned helplessness, among others, are negative emotional states characterized by high levels of anxiety, depression, frustration, lack of confidence in their abilities, lack of initiative, demotivation, negativity, social isolation, etc.

A woman (and a man) never and under no circumstances like to be subjected to abuse. This premise is obvious and must prevail over any value judgment we can make, however, some situations may seem incomprehensible to us. There’s always a reason why you live in that kind of toxic relationship.


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