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Why Does She Stay?

It’s a question that always gets asked when the subject of domestic violence comes around.  Why does she stay, if it’s so horrible?  If she does stay, doesn’t that mean she wants it on some level?  Signs of Domestic Violence

No, no, and NO.

The reasons someone might stay in an abusive relationship are myriad, crippling, confusing to the victim, and sadly consistent.  Domestic abuse and violence is a cycle, widely recognized, with distinct and documented components.

Why does she stay?

  • Is she afraid he will kill her if she leaves?
  • Has he isolated her from her friends and her family, all other support except him?
  • Does he tell her nobody will ever want her?
  • Would he threaten to take away her children?
  • How about telling her he will call immigration on her – if she is in the country without papers – and have her deported?  Would he do that?
  • Maybe he’d threaten to kill himself if she dared take a step away from him, and his death would be on her head?
  • Could he rob her of her self-esteem, her confidence, her belief in herself and in the possibility of aid?

Yes, yes and YES.

Part of being a bystander – a helpful, active bystander – in this world is knowing some of the answers to hard questions, difficult questions, scary and threatening and challenging questions.  It is so easy to have the best of intentions, and yet wound a survivor terribly by a misplaced demand of, “WHY DID YOU STAY?”

There are reasons.  So many reasons.  But rather than have me tell you all of them in bulleted lists, black and white on the screen and oh-so-analytical, I will instead give you this link to a TED talk, delivered by an amazing, courageous, accomplished, smart, dignified woman.  A survivor of domestic violence.  Why did she stay?

Here, let her tell you:

* Why do I keep using “he”?  Sadly, because the majority of abuse perpetrators are men.  Does that mean most men are abusers?  Absolutely not.  Are men also victims sometimes?  Absolutely yes.  Do they deserve support and respect and aid?  Again, absolutely yes.

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