Have you ever thought, “If my partner hit me, I would leave”? We wonder if this is true. We know that women don’t find abuse acceptable, but a simple equation of abuse = leave ignores the complexity of most women’s lives. It is easy for a person to say this if they have never been in the situation but let’s think about what it is really like for a woman.
We are pretty sure that if a man hit a woman or raped her on their first ‘date’ a woman would try to leave. But what if the first month of dating was wonderful? He presented his best qualities – attentive, complimentary, generous and kind? What if the first sign of a problem happened after you’d had thoughts like “maybe this is a long-term partner?” or friends and family tell you they think he is a wonderful guy? What if your partner was starting to talk about moving in together, and making statements like “you are the best thing that has ever happened to me.” What if the more “serious” signs of abuse didn’t happen until you bought a house together or had a baby? By this time you are emotionally invested a financially tied. It is no longer simple to leave. What if your partner was abusive in many ways, but never hit you? What if your partner told you that he would kill you if you ever tried to leave? Or that he would fight for custody of the kids if you left. These are all real experiences of women. All we are saying is that leaving is complicated and dangerous and does not reflect women’s weakness if they stay. It simply shows how serious and life threatening this decision is and how we need to listen to women because they know what is safest. So the next time you hear someone say, “I’d never allow a man to hit me” please jump in and help others understand what a complex and treacherous decision women must face. Jill