Through my personal experiences, those I’ve been a party to, stories that have been relayed to me, and research; online, in training manuals, and various books, I have found battered women often share the same fears and have suffered similar traumas.
Some of the main concerns and consequences a victim may face once they have decided to leave their partner are;
1.) Poverty- A woman may not have access to the finances. She may have to quit her job, or take extended leave, while transitioning. She may have been a STAH mom/wife with no marketable skills, or have been out of the work force for several years. How will she provide for herself, especially if she has children?
2.) Homelessness- If the home she shares with her abuser is in his name, or she lacks the resources to afford staying there without him, where will she go? Women are often afraid of shelters and ashamed to go to family members.
3.) Fear of making matters worse- Abusers tend to increase their level of violence, when they fear they are losing control. In fact, an abuse victim is 70 TIMES more likely to be murdered by her abuser in the few weeks after leaving, than at any other time in the relationship. *This is why Shelters are so important*
4.) Concern for her children- Abuse victims face the possibility of the abuser’s threats to take their children, will be carried out. Alternately, they fear that taking the children from their father will traumatize them. Another concern is that the batterer will get visitation rights and begin to abuse them in her absence. The victim may be worried that social services will take her children, if the abuse is discovered, and a myriad of other potential issues.
5.) Facing lack of empathy or victim blaming from family/friends/law enforcement – Abuse victims often hear things like:
You just pick violent men; You must enjoy it or you would leave; He’s never hit you, so you’re not really abused; You’re the kind of woman that makes men want to hit them; You made your bed, now you have lie in it; You can’t break up your family; Pressing charges will ruin his life…. And too many more backward thinking comments to list.
Knowing that those are very real situations a victim could encounter, should they leave, consider what they have been through up to this point.
Leaving a domestic abuse situation becomes more difficult the longer you remain in it. Abusers use tactics that beat down their partner over time. Things that have been proven to effectively “break” a person. These Methods include; Reprogramming/mentally grooming someone, as they do In the Military (*not implying that the military is abusive), or certain cult like religions (i.e.; Yelling, insulting, and reinforcing an idea by repeating it over and over , which is what verbal abuse does); Manipulation/confusion tactics like the ones employed by law enforcement to flummox a “suspect” (i.e.; keeping them uncomfortable, second guessing themselves, making them question their judgment, this is part of how psychological abuse is carried out); Inflicting bodily harm, as certain govt agencies, terrorist, The mafia, and drug cartels, do (i.e.; punching, slapping, kicking, raping, choking, binding etc. These assaults discourage disobedience, intimidate into compliance, put the victim in a position of weakness, and control them with fear. This is how physical abuse works.) Denying access to/requiring permission for, items necessary to live a productive life. These items could be; a vehicle, money, birth control, clothing, etc. This is a strategy utilized by pedophiles, kidnappers, sex traffickers, pimps and modern day “slave” owners. (Doling out everyday staples, providing them at the whim of the abuser, forces the victim to be dependent on them, which over time, turns into a way of thinking. It also causes the victim to see the abuser as benevolent when these things are provided. Usually this is done through financial abuse)
So, it’s not as easy for an abuse victim to leave as people would think. These methods are very effective at dimming the spirit, damaging the soul, shutting one down emotionally, and leaving the mind in a constant state of fight or flight. If one is constantly putting out fires and dealing with “temper tantrums” they will never have time to focus on any real issues in their relationship. Thus, giving the abusers even more freedom and leaving the relationship imbalanced in their favor.
Statistically, battered women leave an average of 6 times before making the decision to stay away from their abuser.
The FIRST time your partner physically assaults you, would be the ideal time to leave. According to 3 sources of statistics, between 2001 and 2012, 11,766 women were murdered by a current or ex partner. That is almost DOUBLE the amount of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same time period. One third (1/3) of female homicides are due to domestic violence. When the abuser has access to a firearm, his victim’s risk of being killed increases nearly 5xs. If you’re partner is frequently exhibiting abusive behavior and you decide to stay, prepare yourself to be able to leave at a moment’s notice. When you have that “Ah ha” moment, you need to be ready to get out as quickly as possible.
There are arrangements you can make ahead of time to lessen the stress of your transition. Pack a bag for yourself (and kids) with enough clothing for at least 3 days. Purchase a burner cell with minutes. Think of 2 people, or places that you could go to, or call, for help at any hour. Store these numbers in the phone; add the phone to your bag. Have the phone number to a Women’s shelter in your area, on hand. They will provide you with assistance and resources confidentially. Document your injuries with photos, dates and descriptions. Start saving NOW, by stashing change, extra money, gift cards, anything that won’t be noticed missing. Open an account in only your name or hide what you save. If you’re married, and have access to a joint account, when you leave, go to the bank or ATM immediately (unless you need medical attention). Either drain the account or take as much as you can. Report the incident to the police if your property was damaged and seek medical attention if you are injured.
You do not have to remain a victim. You are stronger than you know.