The dynamics of physical abuse is complex and hard to generalize. Although physical abuse can be predictable in each individual case there is no one pattern or â€œwarning signâ€ for every abuser. Alcohol and drug abuse, stress, and threats to the relationship are a few of the reasons the women categorized the abuse, but the largest percentage noted that ineffective communication was a part of the reason for abuse.
Problems such as the inability and unwillingness to talk about feelings could lead to the abuse. Also, more severe communication problems, such as verbal abuse, would end in physical abuse. As the intensity of an argument or conflict escalated the more common it was to end in physical aggression. Often times the men would use violence as a form of control or strategy to end the argument. Some women would do anything to avoid a conflict or argument in fear that it would end in physical abuse.
Women reacted differently to the abuse. Some women felt as if they were damned if they do and damned if they donâ€™t. They tried to find reasons behind the abuse and questioned their own behavior. Some women fought back with aggression while others didnâ€™t know how to or found other was to vent their anger.
Women labeled the meaning of the abuse differently depending on the level and amount of physical and physiological abuse they had experienced. Disbelief and confusion, excusing and forgiving, and blaming were the ways the women went through the meaning-making process. Women had much disbelief and confusion that this was happening to them. Even after several years of abuse the women could still be going through this stage because of the empty promises of the abuser to change or stop. Excusing the abuserâ€™s behavior is often the next step in finding meaning for the abuse. The would try to find reasons even if it meant putting blame on themselves, but when the women explain the viol