Why Do Victims Of Domestic Violence Stay?


domestic violence
Is it OK to ask victims of domestic violence why they stayed with the men who abused them?

Yesterday, two of the other lady blogs wrestled over the politics of asking victims of domestic violence why they stayed with their abusers. Are you a bad feminist if you ask someone—say, someone like me—why she stayed with the guy who beat the crap out of her, nearly murdered her, and raped her on a regular basis? The Frisky: Could You Date A Man Who Wasn't A Feminist?

Double X's Linda Hirshman says why? is a question that every feminist should pose to their battered sisters. Jezebel's Megan Carpentier calls Hirschman out for being a judgmental bitch with a superiority complex. While I tend to agree with Megan, feminist or not, it's an understandable question. (And one, many years later, I still can't answer.)


It's natural that when we hear about a crime, we feel a need to distance ourselves from it. There's been a recent uptick in robberies in my neighborhood and as I scan the police blotter, I find myself rationalizing that the person probably got mugged because they were talking on their iPhone and not paying attention. Or the criminals picked that other dude to kidnap because it was 4 a.m. and he was drunk. I'm never out at 4 a.m. anymore—therefore it'll never happen to me. The Frisky: 12 Signs You're Dating A Loser

So yeah, on one hand I understand the urge to ask why. If only to reassure ourselves that it could never happen to us. But I also understand that asking someone who's been punched in the face repeatedly, kicked nearly unconscious, cut, sodomized, and humiliated in a hundred different horrifying ways, is not one bit helpful. What would the right answer be? I stay because I'm a useless piece of s**t who doesn't deserve love or kindness?