How a Frog Can Help You Understand Domestic Violence
The National Football League (NFL) has been a big proponent of spreading information regarding domestic violence, featuring a very chilling commercial where a woman calls 911 under the guise of ordering a pizza, and is asking for help without alerting her abuser. It’s a commercial that might stick out in your mind too, if you or someone you know has ever experienced an abusive relationship.
As couples counselors, it’s important for us to understand domestic violence and be aware of the myriad of reasons it occurs and why the individual being abused stays in the relationship. It might seem like common sense, “If someone hit me, I would leave” yet domestic violence is much more complex than the physical abuse and one analogy we’ve found to be most helpful in helping individuals understand domestic violence is the frog in the pot of boiling water.
If you were to imagine putting a pot of boiling water on the stove, and then putting the frog in the water, what do you expect might happen? It would jump out. The water is too hot and is an instant burn, signalling to the frog to get out. What you do you think might happen if you put the frog in a pot of lukewarm water, neither too hot or too cold, and slowly turned up the heat? The frog will stay. A frog’s skin is a membrane and it adjusts to temperature over time. By the time the water boiling and too hot for the frog to survive, it’s too late because the frog is cooked.
This analogy explains why individuals stay in abusive relationships for so long: because it happens slowly, over time, and often violence is the last thing in an abusive relationship. Social isolation and financial control are just two of the many ways domestic violence shows itself in a relationship and how it occurs overtime, without sending large warning signals to the individual.
If you, or someone you know, may be experiencing an abusive relationship, we encourage to reach out or educate yourself by visiting the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, with an emergency exit link, http://www.ncadv.org/, or calling their hotline at 1 (800) 799- 7233 (SAFE) or visit www.ndvh.org.