one question our culture generally asks of victims/survivors
of domestic abuse is: "Why do/did you stay in
an abusive relationship?" Sometimes the question is meant as an honest
inquiry, though at other times it is spoken with an undercurrent
of hostility or disbelief, (e.g.: "It couldn't have
been that bad,
you must have liked it," or "If you really wanted
to leave, you would have.") This victim-blaming attitude
is extremely counter-productive. Domestic violence is always the responsibility of the abuser, and it is also important
to remember that leaving the relationship does not necessarily
end the abuse (many abusers escalate their violence when
the victim attempts to leave).
The following list, adapted from a publication of the Domestic
Abuse Project (www.domesticabuseproject.org), is a composite
of views collected from their women support groups over a period
of several years. These women offered many answers to the question: "What
keeps women in abusive relationships?”
- I will ruin his life if I leave.
- She will lose her job if I report this.
- He will start drinking again.
- I will disappoint my family.
- I have to take care of him.
- He has all the money
- I have never had a good job, how will I care for kids
- Better to be beaten up at home that to be on the street
- I would rather die than be on welfare.
Dependence on Traditional Gender Roles:
- I am afraid to be on my own, who will protect me?
- I fear that I will never be in a relationship again.
- He gives me a sense of security
- I don’t want to be a divorced