The Questions You Need To Stop Asking Domestic Abuse Victims


stop domestic violence

When a man hits a woman, the question we all want to ask is, “Why did she put her face in front of his fist?”

Well, I reject that. Whole-heartedly. I think that the strategy of asking women what’s so wrong with them that they were totally easy to hit like that has been tried and it has failed.  I think it’s time to start asking the hard question. Stop asking why she was stupid enough to let him abuse her and start asking why he chose to abuse. It will be hard, actually blaming the people who are responsible instead of the victims, even though the victims are so frequently women and therefore just asking to be blamed for everything. But with some work, I think it can be done. So, I put together a little guide of urges you may have when confronted with domestic violence, why those urges are counter-productive to your supposed goal of reducing domestic violence, and what questions you can substitute instead.

Question: Why did she stay?

What victims hear when you ask that:  Only a stupid person would let it get to the point of him hitting you. You can’t let anyone know this happened, or they’re going to ask why you stayed. Your pain is already great, and having people imply you’re stupid and you did this to yourself will just make it worse. So, you should conceal the abuse and pretend everything is okay. Otherwise, people are going to wonder how you could be so stupid.

What to ask instead: Why did he continue to hit her after he promised he would never do it again? What kind of man does that? Why does lying to someone he supposedly love come so easily to him? Why is hitting her more important to him than keeping his promises?

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    • Jon

      great article. it’s nice to have a little understanding on the thought process of abuse victims.

    • Amy

      OF COURSE the abuser in a domestic violence incident is the one clearly in the wrong. No one is saying any different.

      But many of these relationships are a co-dependancy nightmare and friends and family have a right to confront a woman who repeatedly returns to an abusive relationship. Like alcohol or dugs or any other kind of dependancy, the victims in these situations need to confront their issues and their inability to leave their abuser.

      I think it is completely valid for friends and family to ask a loved one to leave a dangerous situation, and to question why they stay. That’s not victim-shaming. Of course people shouldn’t break the law – but that doesn’t mean you stand back and do nothing when they do. You protect yourself as much as you can. Friends and family have a right to ask their loved one to do that.

      • Katrina

        Because it’s a lot like asking a rape victim ‘couldn’t you fight him off?’ Well, duh, no. If I could have, I would have.
        From the outside, the answers seem so easy, even in retrospect, it seems like it should have been easier, but it wasn’t. There are lots of pesky conflicting feelings running around, and for some women there are serious financial implications and children involved. For me, it was fear. If I left he would find me and kill me, or hurt some one else. In the end I had to move three times and change my phone number and bank accounts twice.
        It’s really scary to break from your life and the person you love. You wake up in the night with your heart pounding, you’re already on the phone with the 911 dispatcher before you realize that you were dreaming and he isn’t really in the house. Your heart stops when you leave your new job and you see a man with a similar hair style waiting in the lobby. A sports car that looks like his is parked in the gym parking lot so you don’t work out that day because you’re scared he’s found you.
        You can’t be expected to understand these things – I never want you to. – But you also have to keep in perspective how hard it is to leave. All you can do is remind the person over and over that when they’re ready to jump, you’ll catch them.