Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why Didn't You Just Leave?

 Many times in my life I've been asked the question, "Why didn't you just leave?"I was one of the thousands of women who are victimized each and every day.  All over the world women and their children suffer at the hands of their husbands or other domestic partners. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and battering are all too common. This is a complex issue.

The effects of battering last a lifetime, traumatizing not only for the woman but also her children. Recently I discovered an article online that explains how it is that women stay in toxic relationships.

The following was published online on August 1,2003 online on a site called Common Dreams.
It is titled Hunting for Bambi. Hoax? Reality? Does It Matter? This article was written by John E. Glass, Ph.D. and a chairperson of a Violence Against Women Committee in Texas. The part that is relevant is thus: "For the past four years, I have worked in the field of domestic violence. Doing the work that I do, reading the social scientific literature that I have read, and making general daily observations, I know that women in their "right mind" do many things that are incomprehensible to those not in their situations. The "why doesn't she just leave?" mantra in the field of domestic violence is perhaps the best example of this.

When hearing about someone being abused by a partner, the first question usually asked is, “Well, hell, why doesn’t she just leave?” Well, she doesn't “just leave” for some very good reasons. Reasons, in fact, that reflect her being in her “right mind.” For instance, she will be homeless, she will have no financial resources, her children will have no home, their school will be disrupted, she will be seen as "breaking up the family," she may be threatened with deportation, she might be reported to child protective services, her family of origin will disown her, her church group will shun her, she will be "sinning," etc.

Do these sound like good reasons to not leave an abusive situation? Reasons that someone in their “right mind” might use to justify staying? Absolutely. Not that hard to figure out.

Actually, the question of “Why doesn’t she just leave?” is the entirely wrong question to ask. The real question is, "Why isn't the abuser held accountable?" Why does everyone expect the victim of the abuse to do something about it? When it comes to other violent crimes, do we expect the victim to do something about it? Imagine someone having just been assaulted in their home during a burglary and the police saying to the victim, "Sorry, Mr. Smith, you have to leave your home now because you have been assaulted and your home has been burglarized." Huh? Or what about a neighbor, after finding out that someone down the street had his car stolen, asking the question, “Good lord, we all know that this is a high crime area, why doesn’t John just move?”

So the question isn’t why would some woman in her right mind subject herself to this? The question is, “Why would anyone in their right mind want to subject women to this and why would anyone in their right mind think this would be okay?”"

Here is another telling dysfunction of our society:

   Often, not only is the woman victimized by her husband, but also by the court system. For a mother to be separated unrighteously from her children is cruel.
   In a country that is supposed to be so advanced and progressive it is appalling that we are so backward in this issue of human rights.


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