That’s the question that’s (inevitably) being raised on this Pandagon thread, where Amanda posts a video of a woman being verbally and physically assaulted by her husband.
So why do women put up with this? Why don’t women leave? Are we stupid? Masochistic?
We’re rational. As the woman on the video says, physical abuse doesn’t start on the first date. It’s incorporated into a relationship after bonds are forged and hard-to-break ties are made. Look at this woman’s life: When he husband started beating her up, she lived with him in a small-ish town close to her family and they had three kids together.
Look at your own life: Could you pick up and disappear tomorrow? I certainly couldn’t.
Women who live in abusive households know that attempts to leave threaten their lives. Too often, women who try to leave abusive partners get killed. Their kids get injured or killed. The people or things they love (pets, etc) get injured or killed in retribution.
Beyond that, abusers often control the family’s finances — leaving isn’t free, and if you have little or no access to money, you have a problem. If you have kids, child custody laws kick in — you can’t just take the kids and run, you have to battle it out in court (which, if you hire a lawyer, also isn’t free). If you have a job, your employer may not want to put up with the routine absences that come with messy divorces and custody battles. Your employer may not want to put up with your partner calling and harassing them in an effort to find you. Your friends and family may not want to put up with that.
It is not an easy calculus.
I’m a young, single woman whose permanent residence is in New York. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. I go to school. Once I finish school, I’ll be working, and I’m expected to show up. I have to take the bar exam to practice in New York, and I’ll have to re-take it before I can practice anywhere else. I’ll have a solid $1,000 a month in loans to pay off once I graduate. My name is on a lease. I am close with my family. I am close with my friends. I have an apartment full of stuff.
I cannot disappear.
And yet that’s what we expect of women who live through intimate partner abuse. We expect them to just… leave. We act like it’s easy to pick up and move to a shelter — as if it’s no big thing to leave your job, your family, your kids, your home, your pets, your financial obligations, your professional goals, everything you own, everything you’ve worked for. We act like women who are abused will have their own bank accounts, their own credit cards, their own transportation, their own support systems, all independent from their partner. We act like leaving your entire life behind is even conceivable.
Some women do it. And those women are among the bravest of the brave. But I will be Goddamned if I ever look at anyone else and wonder why she made such a “bad” decision.
When I was a kid, my mom used to regale us with the phrase, “But for the grace of God, go I.” It always kind of sounds like bullshit. Until it isn’t.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- We Get Emails. by Jill November 25, 2008
- Another day, another man kills his ex-wife, MRAs cheer by Jill October 18, 2011
- Fuck you Dov Charney. by Jill January 28, 2009
- PETA does it again by Jill September 29, 2008
- Word to the wise: Never date a guy who reads Details by Jill October 27, 2009