Saturday, 10 January 2015

Domestic Violence - Why won't she leave?

If you really want to try to understand, then I will give you some pointers.  

Domestic violence is very different to any other kind of violence.  I have heard people speak about a battered woman, while tutting and shaking their head in amazement.  The reality is that victims of violence, & victims of domestic violence have a lot less in common than you might think.  

Violent crime:

A person is attacked.  They are a victim of an assault.  They might be badly beaten, raped, robbed.  If they survive the incident, there is often some support available to them right away from either police, social workers, district surgeons, doctors & family.  Later, this support circle will probably increase to include extended family, friends, & friends of friends unless the victim prefers to keep the incident private.  There is a lot to be gained by speaking out.  The police may get the attacker off the street, goods may be recovered, warnings can go out to encourage others to be careful.  Medical support can sedate, relieve pain, test for & prevent life threatening consequences.  

People know how to feel and respond. There's the good guy/gal (the victim) & the bad guy (the attacker). A mad sub-human went off the rails and lashed out at a person because he or she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  On a different day, it might have been them or someone they love who got hurt. If the victim is female, the attack is regarded as even more abhorrent.

Society can process this easily, & most of us will rightfully do all we can to help & support the victim & her family with whatever means we have. 

People were amazing after myself & two of my work mates survived an armed robbery. All three of us received kindnesses from unexpected sources.

Domestic violence:

A person is attacked -  once more.  If it's not one of the really brutal attacks, they might not even regard themselves as having been assaulted.  The abuser, however, is still in the house.  He might be in the back garden playing with the children, or chatting to the neighbour over the fence.  The attack was expected, the victim knew that despite previous pleas & promises that it was going to happen again.  She is tired, emotionally drained, confused, her body aches.  She won't call the police because she is sure they will think she is a mad cow if she tells them that her husband raped her & even if they do believe that he caused the bruises, she is certain they will wonder why. There must be a reason, surely?  If she has any friends left by this point, she wouldn't confide in them anyway. Reasons differ, but could include that hubby is well liked, a worker, a good dad, or even just generally known to be pleasant.  She might rationalise that a lot of families have problems - they don't call the police when their teenage son comes home drunk and breaks things in the house, do they? Families stick together after all, and all households have their problems.  

If there are children, they feel certain that any report of hell in the home could result in the kids being taken away -  & they need her - She needs them too & cannot stand the thought of losing them.  She tells herself they are fine, they don't know what goes on in private. 
They might have heard the odd argument, but nobody's life is perfect.  

She picks herself up off the floor, cleans herself up, covers the marks, patches the tears in her skin.  Later, she'll tell people she has another mouth ulcer or toothache and just can't speak too well right now because it's amazing how much these small silly things really can hurt.  As she clears up the mess in the house, she looks back in her mind - trying to work out what it was that did or didn't do that pushed him over the edge this time.  Why did she raise an eyebrow or smile in such a way that he thought she was making fun of him?  She curses herself for being that stupid - She knows him and should have noticed he looked kinda tired earlier.  

She hates how she feels, then she sees the kids satchel and gets some comfort from knowing that little Sam or Anne loves their local school.  She could never keep HIM away from the kids, they'd end up hating her -  Besides, he already whispered to the right people that he thinks she is depressed/hormonal/unwell, & he's assured her a few times that his cousin Allan that works for CAB can make sure that she never gets custody if she leaves.  Even if she could win custody, he'd need to see them - so she'd need to see him- & quite often too.  A lot of disruption, with a risk of having the social services breathing down her neck for the rest of her life.

She thought of leaving once, a long time ago.  It was around the 4th time he went for her, and the first time she really felt that he might kill her.  She called a number, talked things through.  It sounded possible for a while, but after thinking about it further, she realised there wasn't really anywhere for her to go.  If she went to her aging parents, it wouldn't be fair.  She'd be bringing trouble to their door, and her dad wouldn't cope.  By then, they had been "a couple" for some time, and all of their friends were mutual friends.  How would their friends and extended family cope with the "he-said, she said"?  The one time she had tried to tell a friend what was going on, Elaine had put up her hand to silence her, saying that she doesn't listen to gossip, especially when the other person isn't in the room.  

She hadn't earned a real salary since the youngest was born, her part time job wouldn't cover the bills.  The kids would become latch key kids.    

The sad fact is that society still regards victims of home violence as second class victims.  The situation is not as clear cut as other violence.  Services, doctors, the police, family, extended family & friends, they all respond differently to domestic violence than they do to other forms of violence.  Individual attitudes cannot be managed by legislation.  

People tut & discuss that battered woman that they really just cannot understand. Why doesn't she just leave?  The short answer to that question is that believes she cannot leave because of our attitudes.  We have all conspired to make her feel like a second class victim, & she believes that too.  


Violence of any kind is unacceptable.  It is always destructive, demeaning & disturbing.  I do not mean that dealing with any attack is easy, but rather that it is generally easier for other people to respond to a situation where criminal & victim are clearly defined. There are exceptions to every rule.

I read this in the papers, perhaps it might illustrate how leaving is seldom as simple as it seems 
Abused Mum forced to communicate with her abuser

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