Why It’s Hard to Leave: The Complicating Factors of Domestic Violence

5 Things You Should Know About Domestic Violence

domestic violenceDomestic violence affects one in three women and one in four men in the United States. In addition, 15 percent of all violent crimes involve intimate partner abuse. It’s common for concerned loved ones to wonder, “Why won’t they just leave?” It’s difficult to imagine why someone would stay in a home where their safety is threatened.

If you’ve never been in a domestic violence situation, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the factors that impact a victim of domestic violence. Here are five facts you need to know to better understand your loved one’s situation:

It happens every nine seconds. Domestic violence is common, and every nine seconds a person experiences intimate partner abuse with a total of 10 million people being abused by their partner each year. There are more than 200,000 calls come in to domestic violence hotlines yearly.

It affects men, too. While women are the primary victims of domestic violence, coming forward to report abuse can be complicated for men in different ways than for women. Men are often stigmatized for their situation and ridiculed because they are being victimized by their partner.

Victims often face the blame. Real-life situations are more complicated than what’s often depicted on television, and people often blame a victim for provoking their partner.

Leaving isn’t easy. Victims of domestic violence are often encouraged to just leave, but it’s often a decision that affects many things. They may fear the loss of financial support from their partner, or if there are children involved, they grieve their child’s loss of relationship with their other parent. Also, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship is, the victim may focus on how their partner is when they are not abusing them and keep talking themselves out of leaving. It’s important to recognize that leaving doesn’t guarantee that the violence will end; in fact, the victim’s risk of being seriously injured or killed increases when they are preparing to leave or have recently left the abuser.

What to do if someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship. Think about it. If a friend called you today in a domestic violence crisis, do you know how to help them connect with the right services and get help? Try these steps:

  • Listen to them, believe their story and let them tell you their story at their own pace.
  • Offer them a place to stay or help them find a shelter.
  • Do not get involved personally with their abuser – instead, focus on listening and identifying resources.
  • Try to understand your loved one’s reasons for staying, and offer financial help and childcare assistance if you can and encourage them to get help.

The YWCA of St. Joseph offers immediate and long-term help for women who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic violence. The Shelter and the Bliss Manor Housing Program help many women and their children each year escape the violence and rebuild their lives with a vision for the future. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. We also offer professional counseling for victims as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.  These services are offered at no cost. To learn more, visit our website.

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