More on Why Battered Women Don’t Leave

I think Narelle’s post and a number of the comments have hit the nail on the head.  Many battered women don’t leave due to economic factors.  Maybe they don’t have a job, and they’ve got kids.  It’s not that they want to be abused. They’re flat out scared. The abuser has threatened their lives, their children’s lives, their families’ lives. 

 Which brings us to the issue of shelters, which are meant to help with all of this.  Women can go to a shelter and be safe, bring their kids and keep them safe, live there for a bit and find a job and a new apartment.  Except that there aren’t enough shelters. 

   In my home state of Colorado, the Colorado Coalition against Domestic Violence reports that they turned away 5,886 people in 2006 due to a lack of capacity. That was just in my state. How is yours doing?

CCADV further reports a need for more long term shelter. Really?

Think about this: your husband has abused you. You leave, in a hurry with the kids and what clothes you can grab up and call a shelter because he will find you at your Mom’s house and you’re scared for Mom.  You figure you’re lucky.  You’ve got a job; you can support yourself and the kids.  And the shelter has room for you all so you have time to find a new apartment.

Maybe you’ve forgotten your contact lens case, your son’s spelling homework, maybe you’ve forgotten your daughter’s asthma medicine. But you get to a shelter and you’re safe. But you have no money and the shelter is noisy, overcrowded and you can only stay 30 days or maybe six weeks.

During that time, your husband shows up at the kids’ school and tries to take them. Luckily you’ve alerted the principal, but you realize he can catch them anywhere. You need to change the kids’ school. Not only that. He shows up in the parking lot of your job and makes a scene. Your co-workers intervene but you can’t feel safe. And the boss sure didn’t like it.  All of a sudden, you need a new job.

Of course, you have no furniture, blankets, or even cooking utensils. You had to leave all of that behind. So you have to remake your whole life in 30 days or maybe six weeks.  Plus all the apartments want first and last month’s rent plus a deposit.  You don’t have that kind of money and time is running out.  Can you do it?

Maybe he promises he’ll stop. Maybe he says he’ll go to counseling. Maybe the shelter is overcrowded, noisy. The kids can’t sleep at night and cry to go home.
Do you believe him. Is it worth it to go home, try to get a plan and some money and do this again? What do you do? What do you do?

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5 responses to “More on Why Battered Women Don’t Leave

  1. You don’t believe him, wait until he goes through his therapy, and in time, after a lengthy separartion, its then, and only then, YOU make the choice. He has violated the the vows of marriage, that so many now have lost sight of.
    I never understand why the victims have to do all of the running, the violator should be the one to leave, AND MADE TO LEAVE, otherwise facing a long term in prison to think things through.
    It is the same in Australia, not enough shelters, and scarcely unknown places for the man. Yes, man -they can be victims of domestic abuse as well.
    To all those victims of abuse, stand strong and tall, do not bow down to the insecure little person that is no better than a schoolyard bully.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea shelters had time limits. I thought those lucky few fortunate enough to get in were welcome to stay until they put together a safe life for themselves and their kids. And I thought shelters had organized programs to help that process along.

  3. This is my life.

    Thank you. Thank you for telling it like it really is. Ive written about it previously, but no one really believes it . This is, truly and really, the way it is.

    Thank you.

  4. It’s a scene played out in every state, every day, every hour. Until it’s taken seriously and given the financial backing that an adequate number of shelters require, it will continue to be the scenario you describe. Contact your legislators and build some heat under them. They can make the changes that are needed.

  5. Heres my story, in the interest of increasing awaresness about how things are in Canada- specifically British Columbia. Even our mayors get away with abuse and assault,and continue to hold office. How appalling.

    http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/zero-tolerance-for-abuse-and-assault-must-be-the-standard-no-exceptions/

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