This year for Halloween I decided to be Harley Quinn. I choose her because she has always been my favorite villain since I was a child and because October was Domestic Violence Awareness month. “The number of America troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001-2012 was 6,488. The number f America women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during the same time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of causalities lost during war.” (-Huffpost article: 30 shocking Domestic Violence Stats) Around 3 women are murdered daily because of domestic violence. Women with disabilities are 40% more likely to experience partner violence. Black women experience partner violence at rates 35% higher than white women. Every minute 20 people are victims of partner violence. 1 in 4 women will be victims of severe violence by their partners in their lifetimes. 40-45% of the women in physically abusive relationships will also be raped during the relationship.
I wanted to close the month with my favorite character because I grew up reading those comics and watching the cartoon and this couple is one example of me seeing abuse and toxic relationships being romanticized as a child. So since becoming an adult and truly finding my own feminism I’ve realized how many things I watched in media, saw in my own life, and took in as a small child that perpetuated Rape Culture and made abuse or domestic violence out to be a joke. And it all leaves its impact. So now I am left unlearning all the things I was taught about what love meant. Now I am left trying to figure out what constitutes respect and safety in relationships. All while navigating the dating world as a 20 something woman of color. Which is scary! From a one night stand to a long-term relationship women routinely are killed and abused and many never make it out alive.
I remember once that I posted something about Rihanna on Facebook and a friend commented saying she didn’t like her because Rih kept going back to the man who beat her. To which I promptly responded by saying that that was the reason I didn’t like HIM. Chris Brown was the one that did wrong. He was the one who abused and manipulated another person. Yet still because of the male privilege that he holds, he was not only able to maintain a career after doing something so horrible, but was able to maintain most of his female audience. Similarly, Amber Heard can have photographic evidence of Johnny Depp’s abuse and people can still make excuses or say that Amber should have left a long time ago. Since my previous Blog post was about rape culture I decided to make this one about why a lot of women stay. Because we as a society, need to end the victim blaming and understand how abusive relationships work.
1. A lot of domestic violence victims have already been victims of another form of abuse. Meaning not only are they more likely to stay or keep going back to the abuser because it feels familiar, but they feel this is what they deserve. (see next point)
2. Abuse is formed on manipulation. You manipulate someone by controlling how they think and how they feel. Abusers tell victims that they have no worth, that no one else will love them, that no one will believe them and that it was something they did wrong
3. Abusers deflect attention/accountability off of them & onto the victims. This way no matter what they do the victim will automatically blame their own actions and not those of the abusers
4. Many abusers have also been abused and back to accountability, they blame their past experiences for their current actions. They use those experiences to make their victims feel sorry for them. So you will hear things like "I can’t help that i'm like this, I was abused as a child." Even tho being abused isn’t an excuse to hurt others.
5. Oftentimes we lack the resources/programs/support to properly help most of these women. You could get a woman out of a situation but without proper support she could easily go back or fall back into the same lifestyle with another man.
6. Financial security can also play a role in how long she will stay. Many women without help would rather stay & have a financially secure life then leave and be homeless. Because once you have nothing in a society run on class systems then its hard to ever dig yourself out. Along with this many abusers dont allow their victims to work so that they have full control over all finances and so that the victim will feel that she can not make it in the world without him with no job experience.
7. Once children are involved its harder to leave and find support or stability. Single mothers are very often stigmatized and further oppressed especially if they are mothers of color.
8. A lot of the abuse you see as an outsider isn’t the full extent of the suffering that is happening. Or the manipulation that the victim has gone through. By the time most of us realize what is happening to the victim the abuser fully has her under his control, therefore leaving for her would require love, care, support, patience, and resources from those on the outside.
Women shouldn't hold responsibility in escaping abuse. Men should be held accountable for abuse.
Watch the ways in which you with your thought patterns contribute to rape culture and victim blaming.