FAQ ABOUT ABUSE “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” “YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO STAY WITH HIM.” “WHY AREN’T YOU OVER IT YET?” All too often intimate partner violence survivors hear these words from friends and family. Have you ever said this to a loved one? Women’s Center & Shelter (WC&S) is striving to break this cycle of victim blaming. Here at WC&S we take a different approach. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with you?” our staff asks, “What happened to you?” “WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST LEAVE?” This is a common question our staff and clients hear. If you hear someone say this, will you have the courage to counter with, “Why does he abuse?” BUT REALLY, WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST LEAVE? What we really cannot stand about this question is the implication that “just leaving” is a simple thing. In reality, it is the most dangerous time a victim of abuse faces. It is when most domestic violence fatalities occur. Have you ever caught yourself asking a loved one this question? Next time, don’t ask him or her to just leave. Instead, provide our hotline phone number (412-687-8005) so that she will have a safety plan to protect her when she does leave. If she does not want to call, you can call and learn from our hotline advocates how best to support her in this process. Why *really* doesn’t she leave? There are many reasons:
- She loves him.
- She can’t afford to live on her own.
- She doesn’t want her kids to be separated from their father.
- She’s only known abusive relationships her whole life.
- She does not know where to get help.
- She believes him when he says it won’t happen again.
- Family encourages her to stay overtly, or by minimizing his actions and cleaning up his mess.
- For example, a client recently said that in the early years of their relationship, her husband would not physically abuse her, but he would damage the belongings she purchased, such as household furniture. When he broke the new dining room set she had purchased, her mother-in-law took her shopping for a new set, downplaying the abuse. Her abuser emotionally manipulated her by saying she was too materialistic. Meanwhile, she was financially controlled by continuously losing items she had spent her salary on.
This is only a tiny snapshot of the multitude of reasons women stay in abusive relationships. They are a complex set of interconnecting factors ranging from social, financial, moral, and safety concerns. For every individual, they are unique. SUPPORT FOR WHEN SHE LEAVES – CREATING SANCTUARY Women’s Center is focused on creating a sanctuary for survivors when they make the decision to leave. Since 2008, we have been actively practicing the Sanctuary Model, which involves taking a trauma informed approach to working with victims of intimate partner violence. The focus of Sanctuary is to provide services and to engage in activities that meet the unique physical and emotional needs of the women and children recovering from the damaging effects of interpersonal trauma – because most victims of intimate partner violence suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We incorporate SELF into everything that we do. SELF stands for Safety, Emotional Intelligence, Loss, and Future. When the women and children leave WC&S we want them to take with them this new way of thinking. With the tools and skills that we practice on a daily basis, we hope that our clients will be able to go and live their lives in a healthier, safer and more emotionally satisfying way – free from violence After reading, do you understand how to be supportive to a friend in an abusive relationship? What are some ways that you can help a friend move forward?