When an issue of domestic abuse gets out, what goes on in people’s mind is, “Why did they not leave? ” Some think the abuser and the victim have an equal share of blame while others conclude that the victim is absolutely at fault for allowing such happen and they say things like, “It is easier to leave than play victim.”
Everyone agrees that if a person inflicts pain on you and causes emotional distress, the logical thing to do is leave that person. So why do people not just leave?
Many people do not leave their abusive partners because they are being threatened and they think it is not safe. A high percentage of women killed by their partners are killed after leaving the abusive relationship. Cynthia Hill, director of HBO’s Private Violence puts the percentage between 50 and 75. Some victims are killed when they threaten to leave, so it is hard for victims to leave or even think about it.
Some victims stay because of their children. People believe that children raised by single parents do not have normal lives and that raising children single-handedly will affect the children’s mental health and growth. Some even believe that children raised by single parents are more likely to become nuisances in the society. For this reason, a lot of people stay in abusive relationships because they want their children to grow up with a partner figure and perhaps, live normal lives. Also, while some fear that after the relationship is dissolved, they would not have custody of the child, others are perhaps financially incapable to raise a child on their own.
Another reason people stay in abusive relationships is that they truly love their partner and believe in “forever afters” and “love conquers all”. They blame themselves for the abuse and think they can save their partners. They see their partners as a hero and see the abuse as flaws that can be fixed with love.
Furthermore, our society glorifies and normalises abuse. People who grow up in abusive environments are oblivious to the fact that they are being abused. They believe the abuse is an awkward way of showing love and they accept it. They see it as a norm. Sadly, a person cannot fix a problem they have not identified.
Moreover, people stay in abusive relationships because they feel they have invested too much in the relationship. They fear the need to start from scratch with another person. Sometimes the abuser makes the victim feel worthless and this affects their self-esteem. They make the victim feel no one else would want and accept them. So the victim stays because they believe crumbs and pain are better than nothing at all.
The society also sees divorcees and single mothers as failures. So much relevancy has been attached to marriage to such an extent that an unmarried or divorced woman is regarded as a failure. Sometimes, even if a woman wants to leave an abusive relationship, she is “advised” not to leave because society would not appreciate her.
Although it is logical to leave an abusive relationship, it is not always easy as Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline says, “an abused person will leave a relationship approximately seven times before she leaves for good”. While there is no good enough reason to stay in an abusive relationship, people should always place the blame and fight the abuser, not the victim. We should always try to support the victim as carefully and best as we can.
There are domestic violence victims closer to you than you can imagine. Be on the watch.