The [victim of domestic violence] appears to be a full participant, a consenting adult, a collaborator. So it seems, but in any relationship with a violent person, there can be no such thing as full and equal participation. What the battered woman participates in, as best she can, is an effort to regain the relationship she once had and hopes to have again — Didn’t he promise? — the relationship without the violence. Trying to save a marriage, or save her life, or save her children, a battered woman may submit to violence, just as a rape victim may submit to rape for fear of being killed. But submission is not consent.
Anne Jones, Next Time, She’ll be Dead: Battering and How to Stop it, Boston: Beacon Press, 1994, pp. 126-127.
The question "Why didn’t you leave?" often offends victims of domestic abuse. It seems to blame the victim, rather than the perpetrator. It presumes that the victim was more wrong for staying than the perpetrator was for entrapping and hurting her. Often the question is asked out of bewilderment; the questioner is not familiar with the dynamics of abuse and simply cannot understand why any person would remain in an abusive relationship. At times this bewilderment comes across to the victim as exasperation (and therefore as judgement) — in which case the victim feels that the questioner has no genuine desire to understand. If you have ever felt like asking this question, or if you have even been asked it, here are some answers to "Why didn’t you leave?" Of course, not all these reasons will apply to every victim, but many victims will identify with a large number of them.
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