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Quick Hit: “Why don’t women just leave abusers?”

November 29, 2010

You’ve probably heard this question before – following any news report or discussion of domestic violence: Why don’t women just leave?

Jennifer Kesley on Hathor Legacy writes a lengthy response:

Let’s go over that again. The “overwhelming majority” of domestic violence happens not when the abused party is cowing before the abuser, but when the abused somehow resists the control of the abuser. Abused people figure this out quickly, instinctively: fighting back makes it worse. Standing up for yourself makes it worse. Connecting with family and friends who might help you triggers the abuser to make it impossible, or at least terrifying, for you to see those people further. If you pack a bag so you can dash out during the night, make damn sure he doesn’t find it first, or you might pay with your life.

Because abusers see resistance to abuse as an infringement on their right to abuse, and in some cases, even a vicious attack on their personhood. That’s how warped their perception is. They fight to defend what they perceive as theirs – your agency, your right to do anything without their permission – the way most of us would fight to defend a child threatened by a murderous thug.

She also brings up a statistic that I’d never heard, that really throws perspective on the issue and current efforts to prevent domestic violence: Feminism has saved a lot of abusive men’s lives.

“Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics tell us that in the United States, more than 1,000 women and more than 300 men are killed annually due to intimate partner violence. At one time, these numbers were roughly even. This was before women’s shelters and other services for female victims were introduced to provide an alternative avenue of escape. This fact—that domestic violence services are saving the lives of more men than women—is little noted.”

Read it! And now you have something to link to or email whenever you hear that question again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 29, 2010 6:50 PM

    The question should not be why do women stay, but what in our society gives men permission to abuse women. This is the real question in my opinion.

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