“Why do they stay in that relationship?” “What is wrong with them?!?” “Do they like it??!!” “You would think they would leave if they didn’t like it!!” “Why would someone stay with a person who constantly puts them down, calls them names, hurts them over and over physically, emotionally and even sexually?”
Sound familiar?? There is no easy answer to these questions. Sadly, these are thoughts and questions that some have about domestic violence victims. How wrong they are in their way of thinking!! I can guarantee we will never meet the victim who tells us they “liked it”!!
I would like to challenge your way of thinking – instead of asking and dwelling on “Why do they stay or why don’t they leave”? – I would like to rephrase that question to “What are the barriers that are keeping them in that relationship?”
Think about when they first met. Things could not have been better. He/she was charming, affectionate, thoughtful, romantic, and respectful. Things gradually began to change when one began to notice another person from the opposite sex looked at them. They noticed a twinge of jealousy come over their partner. Over time, one began having to justify their every move – where they were going, who with, when they’d be back, who they talked to, etc. As their partner began to want every minute of their time, they realized they were having to cancel plans with their friends, family members, or perhaps certain activities they had always enjoyed – all because their partner made them feel like they should be spending their time with them – not everyone else. Suddenly, they began to feel isolated and very alone.
Leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for a victim. The abuser sees they are becoming independent and is losing control of them so they lash out even more. There are so many barriers that keep a victim in the relationship. Fear itself – knowing the abuser better than anyone, they know what the abuser is capable of doing. Many religious and cultural beliefs make a victim’s decision to stay. Often, the victim does not feel they deserve anyone better; they feel it is their responsibility to change the batterer and to nurture the relationship. Statistics show that victims return to their abuser an average of 5-7 times before they leave for good. The number one reason they return is hope for change. The batterer is very good at making empty promises and pushing the right buttons.
In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I challenge all of you to become educated – learn about the dynamics that surround a domestic violence victim and their children! How much do you know about this unjustifiable crime?? Did you know that every 9 seconds a woman is being beaten or that 50-70% of men who abuse their partners also abuse their children, or that 23% of female victims are pregnant. Did you know that according to multiple studies that examine homelessness among mothers and children, that more than 80% had previously experienced domestic violence and that between 22-57% of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness??
I am asking you all to make a determined effort to attend one of the Candlelighting Ceremonies in October in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Take your stand against domestic violence in your communities. Let your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors know that domestic violence is a crime and should NOT be tolerated.
Times and dates are as follows are on the website and the previous blog post.
Domestic Violence Program Director