Many victims feel very isolated and alone…but they are not. Domestic violence is a common problem and is considered to be the most underreported crime in the United States. Although some victims think the abuse is their fault, it is not. A victim may feel confused about what to do and may be asking herself questions. Am I his only hope for change? Will he be destroyed if I leave him? Am I responsible for helping him? If I stay, will he continue to seek counseling? Would my life be better or worse without him? Can he really change? How will all of this affect my children? The decision to stay or leave a partner is one that only the person in the relationship can make. Each person’s circumstances are unique. However, know that a person who uses violence to cope with his feelings will rarely stop without help. And, merely seeking help is not enough. Sometimes the batterer will go to counseling only long enough to get the victim to stay. When a victim does stay, it can be for a variety of reasons. The following poem, written by a former battered woman, tries to explain the reasons a woman stays:
Why She Stays
She doesn’t stay because:
She likes the pain,
needs the abuse,
is stupid or weak.
She stays because:
She’s an optimistic romantic.
She thinks true love (her love) can heal all things.
She believes prayers are answered.
But sometimes the answer is “NO!“
That if she’s really “good,” she’ll be rewarded.
That when you marry, it’s “for better or for worse.”
That when it gets bad enough, he’ll get help.
Maybe it won’t happen again.
Her subconscious waits for “the other shoe to drop.”
She doesn’t want to disrupt the children’s lives anymore than they’ve already been.
She’s stood it this long, how much worse can it get?
She will find out.
In between the violent periods, he’s “good” to her.
She has no comparison for what “good” really is.
She can’t leave without the children.
He’d let them be pulled in two before letting them go.
Maybe it will stop if she changes.
She loses her identity in trying to please him.
He tells her she can’t make it without him.
She sees herself through his eyes and believes him.
If she leaves, he’ll find her and hurt her.
It’s happened to others, and she’s terrified.
He won’t leave, and she has no place to go.
She can’t support herself and her family
She may be right! The courts can be painfully slow, but she’s selling her soul for a false sense of security.
She will be without love.
She will, only as long as she stays, for she has sacrificed her self-love.
She stays for these and countless other reasons,
And slowly dies,
Day by day,
Unless she can go through the pain of a re-birth,
By leaving and reaching out for help.
Only then, can she learn what love really is.
Most victims want to leave and many try to leave. Sometimes their partner uses intimidation and violence to stop them, and they fear retaliation. Victims don’t stay because they like or need the abuse. They stay—hoping the violence will end, because they are financially dependent on the abuser, lack alternative housing, or are trying to keep the family together. They stay hoping change is possible. It takes strength and determination to survive violence. As time goes on, surviving becomes more difficult. Fortunately, there are people to help and support the victim and her family.