The Questions You Need To Stop Asking Domestic Abuse Victims

Question: What’s broken with her that she would stay? Doesn’t she need help?

What victims hear when you say that: If people find out that he hit me, they’re going to think I’m a weird, fucked up, broken person. They will judge me. They won’t want to be around me. My kids will become pariahs. I may have trouble getting a job if people find out. My parents will wonder how they failed. I’ll be outcast and possibly poor. Better hide the abuse rather than let people decide that I’m some kind of basketcase.

What to ask instead: What’s broken with him that he thinks hitting is okay? Why didn’t he get help before he gave in to the urge to hit? Why does he think it’s okay to hit people if he doesn’t get his way? How did our culture thwart so many men that they think that there’s something manly about hitting women?

Question: Why does she still love him?

What victims hear when you say that: If you aren’t a robot who can turn off your feelings at the drop of a hat, there’s something seriously wrong with you. Your confusion and vulnerability makes you unacceptably weak. Better hide the abuse so people don’t start to think you’re feeble-minded.

What to ask instead: Why does he hit someone he claims to love?

With this helpful guide, you too can stop contributing to an environment where victims linger in abusive relationships, afraid to ask for help because they know that they’ll be treated like freaks and pariahs. With practice, you too can start blaming the people who are to blame when domestic violence occurs: The people who make the choice to belittle, beat, stalk, rape, and intimidate. As long as you keep to the program, eventually you too can stop being a contributor to the problem of domestic violence, and start creating a supportive environment that actually makes it possible for victims to leave.

What are you waiting for? There’s no reason to not drop the victim-blaming today and start blaming abusers for abusing. The only people who you’ll hurt are men who like to hit women. And why should we help them cultivate the environment of shame and fear that keeps their victims with them?


This post originally appeared on RawStory and was republished with permission.

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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.