|The most common
question asked about domestic violence victims is
"Why does she stay?"
The question shows the misunderstanding of
the dynamics of domestic violence. It also reveals a tendency to blame
the victim. A more appropriate question would be:
"Why does he abuse her?" or "Why can't he be
stopped from hurting his family?"
The question--"Why does she stay," --puts
the responsibility back on the victim, and is often followed with the
statement, "She must like it."
Women stay in abusive relationships
for many reasons. They do not stay because they "want to be abused."
A battered woman may believe:
She may tell herself:
- His violence is temporary.
- With loyalty and love, she can make him
- His promises that it will "never happen
- It's her responsibility to keep the
- There will be more good times.
She may deny or minimize
the violence. She may believe her abuser when he tells her that his
abuse is "her fault."
- He's had a
- He needs me.
- All men are violent; it is to be
Many women do
not want the relationship to end; they want the violence to end.
Fear is a major
believe their abusers' threats. She believes he will kill her if she
The percent of female murder victims
killed by their intimate partners has remained at about 30 percent
of Justice Special Report:
Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000)
At times, women may leave the relationship. She
may return when he begs her to come back, or when she can not find the
resources to live on her own. She may return because she loves him.
- More severe abuse.
- Retaliation if he finds her.
- Destruction of her belongings or home.
- Harm to her job or reputation.
- Charging her with a crime.
- Harming children, pets, family or
- His committing suicide
- Court or police involvement.
The average battered
woman leaves 7 to 8 times before permanently leaving a relationship.
are many other reasons women stay in relationships. Some include:
from community of faith/family.
- Few job
- Limited education or work experience.
- Limited cash.
- No access to bank account.
- Fear of poverty.
- Family expectation to stay in marriage
"at any cost".
- Family denial of the violence.
- Family blame her for the violence.
- Religion may disapprove of divorce.
- Religious leader may tell her to "stay
- Guilt about failure of the
- Guilt about choosing an abuser.
- Feelings of personal incompetence.
- Concern about independence.
- Abuser may
charge her with 'kidnapping' or sue for custody.
- Abuser may abduct or abuse the children.
- Questions whether she can care for and
support children on her own.
- Fears losing custody of her children.
- Believes children need a father.
of community support
- Unaware of services available to
- Lack of adequate child care.
- Few jobs.
- Negative experiences with service
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Isolated from community services.
- No support from family and friends.
women in abusive relationships ask these questions:
it get better?
Studies show that over time, without intervention, abuse in the home
gets more frequent and more violent.
Is it my fault?
No. Abuse is always wrong. In fact, abuse in the home is a crime. In
Alabama, domestic violence has been made a separate crime under the
criminal code. The victim is never to blame. There is no excuse for
Can I fix it?
No. Only the abuser can stop his violent behavior. Qualified batterer
intervention programs may provide knowledge and skills to stop his
violent behavior, but only the abuser can decide whether he will use
them or not.
Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous keep him from hitting me?
No. While your partner may need treatment for alcohol or drug abuse,
the abusive behavior can continue even if he becomes sober or stops
abusing drugs. It is recommended that an abuser get treated for his
violence in a specialized intervention program, as well as for drug and
alcohol abuse through substance abuse programs.
What can I do?
deserves to be abused.
Take care of yourself by asking for help. Call Alabama's domestic
violence crisis line at 1-800-650-6522
for information on how to be safe. You
will be put in touch with the domestic violence shelter program nearest
you. We care. We will listen. Remember: