“…they’re just so lazy. All they do is just sit there with their hands out for our tax dollars. They won’t get a job, even when they do, they hardly work. Such a drain on society. They are just as capable of earning a living as I am…” says a lady sitting at a table close by.
Casually changing the subject to other grave social matters her friend leans in,”Did you see the new ads for women of Domestic Violence? I don’t know how a woman can stay in a relationship like that. If you’re being beaten, it just makes sense to leave. I don’t understand why they don’t just leave.” The ladies continue their lunch in a popular restaurant, purses dangling from their chairs, without a second thought about their socially conscious cars in the parking lot. They may leave whenever they wish.
As often as I hear conversations like this I never cease to emotionally cringe. Depending on the level of ignorance, I can feel my jaw tighten in quiet rebellion and respect for the difficulty it takes to “just leave.” Most of us aspire to have a roof over our head, be able to make the bills of basic living, have reliable transportation, and if we have children, be able to meet their needs. If we are particularly honest with ourselves, most of us would like to be able to do this comfortably. I have yet to hold a conversations with someone who enjoys being the subject of our welfare systems.
Many of us find ways of justifying emotional and psychological abuse. We shrug of comments made by bosses, co-workers, “friends”, and family members. The same is true of someone who comes home to it in the form of Domestic Abuse. In the same way that we tolerate the boss who blows up every so often with illogical and unreasonable demands, Domestic Violence victims also learn to tolerate the occasional violent outburst of their abuser because often times, that is not the day to day (unless it is an advanced case). In the same way that most people do not want to do or say the “wrong thing” at work so as not to lose their job, let alone quit, a victim of violence and abuse does not want to lose their ability to survive and provide either.
Tereance P. Jefferey recently wrote an article for cnsnews.com statistically reporting the desperate welfare situation in our country based on the last report published by the Census Bureau in 2012. The number of people recorded dependent on state assistance was 109,631,000. This is excluding veteran’s benefits. With resources stretched thin, benefits being less than what they were, who would like to take the first leap into that reality?
The National Network to End Domestic Violence recently featured a superlative example of what victims of financial abuse, within their Domestic Abuse, are facing. Amy Kukec (read her story) found the courage to leave her abusive relationship only to ” hit one debilitating financial roadblock after another.” Her abusive husband overdrew their Chase account ultimately landing her in ChexSystems. That was just the beginning of the downward spiral.
I wonder if either of the two ladies having the earlier conversation has tried to get a bank account while in ChexSystems? How would they feel if they were unable to pay for lunch with a credit card because they could no longer obtain one. Would they be sitting having a nice lunch if they could only obtain a part time minimum wage job as so many employers are cutting hours because they can’t afford benefits?
Before one casually sits back in the comfort of their own life, looking down their nose at the “parasites” of society and comments, “I don’t understand why they don’t just leave?” consider what one is telling them. Victims that have been financial crushed and crippled by their abuser not only fear for their ability to provide for their basic needs, as well as children if they are present, but they also fear the horrible social stigma of being relegated to a class people known as lazy beggars. They fear being social outcasts. They fear visiting that social sin on their children.
I am hopeful when I see articles as highlighted by NNEDV. If we can identify the obstacles of leaving, if they can be brought to a social awareness, then we can begin to do something about it. Kukec (read about Kukec) is doing her part by starting “a petition on Change.org calling for the bank to overhaul its procedures when dealing with the accounts of victims of domestic violence.” That is they key.
If society would like to see more victims leave abusive and violent relationships, we need to create a system that will support their rehabilitation. Without entities doing their part in the face of such human injustice, to assist in a persons ability in becoming economically viable and independent, they are by default contributing to the problem. Victims will be driven to chose between the “safety” of staying in abuse, or throw themselves at the mercy of a disinterested system that by default re-victimizes the victim.
Here is the grave reality. When companies, banks, and organizations hide behind policy in lieu of creating protective policy for victims of domestic abuse and violence, are they really acting in their best interest? If victims can’t get out from under the crushing damage visited on them by an abuser, who can they turn to to survive? State assistance. By helping victims financially rehabilitate we add to the pool of viable and producing citizens. By stubbornly hiding behind disinterest, we only add to an economic crisis, as well as the social stigma of the “lazy beggar”.
Live your life, don’t just survive it.