Prior to becoming fascinated about the dynamics of domestic violence, I remember thinking, “Why don’t women/men in these relationships just pack up their bags and leave?” or “Why don’t they just go to a shelter–we have plenty of them”
Well… let’s just say that I initially understood very little about the complexities of walking away or even in fact, the complexities of staying.
According to the NY Times, an article by Mireyah Navarro, women/men who walk away from their abusers are often walking away from having homes. Once in a shelter, victims often have little resources to find other places of living or means to continue working or find a new form of income.
Even if a victim does have the means to find a new home, there’s also the issue of anonymity. Trying to find an apartment without catching the abusers radar (especially in the same neighborhood) is often difficult. Public housing options are overrun, and many are still plagued with violence in the home and outside of it. Other victims stay with their partners for many reasons: immigration status, love, denial, and usually there is a sort of bond–love or trauma bond (explained in my previous article).
Another factor, not mentioned in this article, is that in some cases (albeit the milder ones) leaving isn’t what the victim wants/needs to do. In our thinking, we tend to throw the baby out with the bath water–but some of these relationships with therapy and concerted efforts to make change can be salvaged.
However, when it is a high risk situation, with repeated offenses or very devastating abuse (whether psychological or physical) instead of asking “why don’t they leave?” the better question is, “how can we make it easier for people to leave, how can we offer more support, and how can we help these couples if leaving isn’t an option?”
Any thoughts? Let me know. Feedback is always welcome.
Until next time,