Talking about the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act the other day, and someone (I don’t remember who) made a comment about not wanting to support the women who go back to their abusers time and time again.
And I thought to myself, “You have no clue what that relationship is like, do you?” So I thought that I would write a little something about the dynamic…
First off, understand that these women don't understand that there is a way out. They honestly think that the abuse is their fault. If they hadn't said whatever it was that they had said, if they hadn't spoken to so and so, if they hadn't behaved in that way, then they wouldn't have been beaten. That is the mindset.
The abuser controls everything. From the money, to who you can see and speak to. He will cut you off from family and friends, from anyone who may help you. He will become your sole focus. Your only job is to please him, an impossible task, because no matter what you do, it's wrong.
If you manage to leave the house without him, he will time you. He will know exactly how long it takes you to get to the grocery store, how long you should be there and how long it takes you to get home. One minute longer than that, results in a beating.
If you have a job, he will call several time a day, to make sure that you are at work, and not "sleeping around".
And yes, even if he is arrested for domestic violence, something inside you is so broken, that you don't press charges, and you "forgive" him and take him back. And then there is a honeymoon period, and everything is wonderful and you think that it will never happen again, and something happens that he doesn't like and he beats you even worse than the last time.
You feel that you can't leave because he has control over all the money. You are always broke. You have no contact with your family that he doesn't control. The only friends that you have are the ones that he approves of.
The physical abuse is only secondary to the torture of the mental abuse.
But the statistics speak loudly...
On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. Intimate partner homicides accounted for 30% of the murders of women and 5% percent of the murders of men.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
Most intimate partner homicides occur between spouses, though boyfriends/girlfriends have committed about the same number of homicides in recent years.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
In the meantime, her internal critic is telling her that she has deserved all the abuse that has been heaped on her. She has brought it all onto herself. She is too ugly, too stupid, and too slutty, no one will ever want her around. She is fighting for her survival against the abuse from without and within. There are scars that you will never see.
◆In 2010, where the victim-offender relationship was known, 37.4 percent of homicide victims were killed by an acquaintance; 22.2 percent were killed by a stranger; 18.4 percent were killed by an intimate partner (husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend); 15 percent were killed by a family member; and 5.5 percent were killed by a friend.11
◆In 2010, homicides occurred in connection with another felony (such as rape, robbery, or arson) in at least 14.8 percent of incidents.12
You may not want “your money” going to support VAWA, because these women are so stupid that they keep going back to their abusers. But often times they can’t help but do that. In their eyes, their abusers are the only people in the world that want them around. And when they try to leave, when they finally get the courage and the money and the freedom to leave, they stand the greatest chance of dying.
Here are some more numbers for you:
The NVAWS found that African-American and Native American/Alaskan Indian women and men reported higher rates of domestic violence than did women and men from other communities of color(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), while Asian/Pacific Islander women and men tended to report lower rates of intimate partner violence than did women and men from other minority backgrounds(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). It also found that 23.4% of Hispanic/Latina women had been domestic violence victims in their lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that African-American women experienced domestic violence at a rate 35% higher than Caucasian women (Rennison & Welchans, 2000).
Immigrant women often remain in violent relationships because of their citizenship status. Abusers may threaten to have the victim deported (removed) by reporting their undocumented status to the Department of Homeland Security, to revoke his residency sponsorship of her, or refuse to file necessary immigration petitions that would provide the victim with lawful status in the U.S(Pendleton, 2003)(Shetty & Kaguyutan, 2002). Additionally, many immigrant women face obstacles such as language barriers, a lack of understanding of the American legal system, and cultural customs when leaving violent relationships (Raj & Silverman, 2002).
And here we are… 2013… and we let the abusers win again.
That’s American Expectionalism, right there…