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?