Women stand side by side looking into the sunset over the water.

Who is really in denial?

Sometimes as I interact with other professionals they suggest that a given woman, dealing with abuse, is “in denial” about her situation. Such a comment makes me crazy. I realize that some women do not always dwell on the full gravity of their situation because it is just too overwhelming. They deal with as much as they can at any given time. But I see women working hard to bring about change, protect their children, consider their options, etc. — all in an effort to “make things better”. I don’t see that as denial.

I do, however, think that we live in a society that is in deep denial about the pervasiveness and horror of abuse that grips so many women’s lives.

In Canada, a federal politician, Ujjal Dosanjh, after the death of several women at the hands of their partners, told women that all they had to do was come forward and report the abuse and they would be cared for. This shows a profoundly hurtful level of ignorance of the challenges faced by women when they try to leave their abusive partners.

As a society, too often we are not there for women. Too often police do not take women’s concerns seriously. Women leaving from middle class backgrounds, with no financial resources, are denied any help because, on paper, they have assets, even though they can not access them. And perhaps worst of all, we refuse to protect children after a separation insisting that the mother and father share joint custody even though the mother knows that the father is abusive to the children.

So, in my estimation, there is a lot of denial going on but it is not the women who are in denial.


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