The dominating question by the public seems to be, “Why don’t victims just leave?”
It always seems to dangle in the air as a statement more than a question. I know the answer. I just don’t know how to explain the answer. I haven’t figured out how to describe the helplessness and futility that a victim feels when faced with the “clean up” effort. This of course can only be dealt with after the hurtle of “fear of failure”.
As with any rehabilitation effort, the main ingredient is support. If there isn’t proper support, rehabilitation seems to flounder and ultimately fail. There is no one more acutely aware of this dynamic than a victim. Consider what one is asking when the question, “Why don’t victims just leave?” is proposed. One is asking a victim to suck up a double failure perception.
To admit that it is time to vacate a relationship often times can feel like admitting to failure. Thoughts of I could have tried harder, Did I try hard enough?, I could have done things differently, I could have said things differently, I just didn’t stay long enough through the bad times, This is the worst of it, and so on play on loop.
An even better question to follow up with is, is our society willing and ready to support rehabilitating victims?
I can tell you from experience, it is not. As victims we know this. We are aware better than anyone, that when people say “Why don’t you just leave?” they don’t truly know what the are asking. Yes, all parties can agree that it is the correct course of action for healthier life. However, with this “freedom” comes a pummeling of a different kind.
Due to the nature of Domestic Abuse and Violence many victims are isolated from friends and family, from economic self-sufficiency, and generally lack an adequate support system for rebuilding. The few members of society at large that are aware of the task of rehabilitating are almost as overwhelmed as the victims, especially because there are not enough tools available.
Imagine looking at the devastation left by a hurricane. Imagine trying to organize the wreck of what has to be cleaned up and rebuilt. Consider having nothing but yourself and a couple volunteers to help. Part of the constraints are that there are no modern tools you can use. All you have are your hands, the wreckage available to rig tools to help, and a strong desire not to live in the debris. That is the reality for a victim.
Once they get over the “failure” of their relationship, they are faced with the very real “failure” to rehabilitate. Resources are spars. Often times victims are forced to use inadequate tools. There are not enough councilors, therapists, or psychologists
that specialize in Domestic Violence and Abuse. There are not enough comprehensive and effective programs. There are scarcely any protective laws for victims as they rehabilitate. Often times they are re-victimized by our judicial system out of its archaic ignorance.