She could be a mom.
With you, she’s caring and generous. At home, she can't do anything right.
She never misses a PTA meeting, but he calls her a bad mother.
She always brings the best appies to the party, but last week he smashed a plate because his food was cold.
There’s nothing she can’t do on her own, but he threatens to take the kids if she tries to leave.
So she hides. Because what would he do if she told you?
It is sometimes assumed that a woman’s journey out of abuse ends once she leaves, often leading to questions of “Why doesn’t she just leave?” But exiting a domestic violence situation is a process, not an event.
Although we will always help any woman leaving an abusive relationship, we recognize that it is often the most dangerous choice a woman can make. In fact, 77 percent of domestic violence-related homicides occur upon separation and there is a 75 percent increase in violence upon separation for at least two years.
To further complicate matters, the number of barriers women face when leaving can often seem even more insurmountable than the abuse itself, especially when children are involved. Barriers such as fear for the safety of the children, fear of retaliation by using the children, financial inability to support self and kids, being forced to continue seeing the abusive partner due to custody arrangements by the court system, and many other considerations.
The family court system is often utilized as an instrument of prolonged abuse and control by the abuser. Many survivors of domestic abuse are met with extensive hurdles in their legal pursuit for full custody of their children. For instance, many believe that the Canadian court system does not give enough weight to the impact of domestic abuse on the abused partner in custody cases. In fact, Canadian family court judges often blatantly ignore the abuse towards the other parent and treat it as a completely separate issue than the parenting of the child, despite extensive research showing that the two issues are extensively interwoven.
Women do not stay in abusive relationships because they are comfortable in them. They stay because they want to protect their children and family from the consequences of leaving. Blaming a victim for not leaving an abusive situation only confirms the belief in her mind that she will not have any support and perpetuates the issue further; leaving her alone, invalidated, and without dignity.
And it is Hidden in Plain Sight.
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