Battered Women - When Mature Women
Leave Abusive Relationships

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

“Dr. King, speak to how it is for the mature woman in an abusive relationship and how it is for her when she leaves,” writes a reader.

My knee jerk response to this request was, “the dynamics are the same.” Battering is battering is battering. An abuse dynamic that is long standing or discovered later in life resembles an abuse dynamic earlier in life.

If it is, indeed, “intimate partner violence,” it will carry all of the defining characteristics of: controlling and possessive behavior, externalization of blame, lack of empathy, isolation, and the use of battering to establish and maintain unequal power in the relationship.

While this is true, the way the abuse dynamic expresses itself may vary from immature adolescent style to a more mature disposition, depending on the age of the people entangled in the abusive relationship. And the domestic violence survivor’s experience may be quite different depending on her age.

Here is how...

1) The mature woman has internalized the multifaceted domestic abuse survivor fabric into the core of her being, as she has worn this cloak for decades. This poses a greater commitment to change, because often it will involve giving up everything that she may think defines herself.

Whereas, the woman with only a short period of her dating or married life may see this “bad” relationship as more easily dispensable even though she, too, knows the dangerous and difficult burden of her exit.

2) The mature battered woman has more ties, more history, and sees her life with less road ahead of her.

Whereas, a younger woman—while entangled in the same battering dynamic—measures what she lives relative to the potential life ahead.

So, for the woman in her fifties, sixties or even seventies, it’s about now. And for the woman in her twenties and thirties, it’s about later.

3) The mature woman has sufficient resources to start her live over, though she may not believe it. And the younger, less experienced woman may also feel she has fewer resources, less life experience, less foundation on which to build a new life.

Resources can be rallied up at any point along life’s road. And so when I hear middle-age women declare defeat because they “can’t” compete with a younger workforce, I say, “You have not found your inner resources.”

If you are a mature woman in or leaving an abusive relationship, know there is more ahead when you give yourself the opportunity to find and become the person that you may have been conditioned to ignore. You can become the self-sufficient, self- respecting, whole person, with the dignity that you long for at any point along life’s path.

For more information about moving on and healing after an abusive relationship, visit and get Free Instant Access to your survivor success eInsights. Dr Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and families recognize, end and heal from domestic violence. Copyright 2009 Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. – Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.