I could not fathom why anyone would stay … Student essay

Another student essay, written by E.J., describes her response to the section of the course on domestic violence.  According to the text, nearly 75% of women in violent relationships eventually leave – but it takes an average of 2 1/2 years for them to do so.  This is one of three short essays, each reporting on one research finding or social theory the student found surprising. I love to read these essays both as evidence of their learning and as a window into their world.

“My final finding that surprised me was dealing with the chapter on abuse in families. I have heard many stories of battered partners in a relationship and how the victim continued to stay with the abuser.”

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“I could never fathom why anyone in their right mind would stay with an abusive partner; it seemed so bizarre and absurd that I just wrote people who wouldn’t leave as desperate for love and just plain stupid.”

“But my viewpoint has since changed. Leaving for most battered women is never a single event, but more of a process (Secombe/421). I never could understand that there was a process involved, due to the fact that the abuser breaks down the victim so far mentally that they are almost brainwashed not to leave. For example, “men…use on their victims a wide range of control tactics that can cripple a victim’s sense of command over her own life” (Secombe/421). These tactics can include blaming the victim, threatening the victim, family members, or even the attacker’s well being if the victim leaves, and isolating the victim so they have nowhere to escape to.”

“These facts opened my eyes to the fact that abused women really can’t just pick up and leave immediately, for their own safety and the safety of others, they must ease out safely.”

— E.J., SOC 2433, The Family and Society

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