Throughout the #WeekWithoutViolence we will be sharing statistics and information about how gender-based violence affects our own community, our country, and the world. Certain groups are more affected than others—for example, women make up 86% of domestic violence victims. Within that social group, there are subgroups that are more susceptible to violence, such as Native / Indigenous women, LGBTQIA women, and women who are immigrants. We find it important and necessary to make this clear: the victims of gender-based violence or domestic violence are not at fault. They are not at fault for not “walking away” and it is crucial to understand that when a partner leaves an abusive relationship, it is during one of the most dangerous and potentially lethal stages.
So, if the question is “why do women stay?” we need to look at the factors that make it difficult to leave.
98% of domestic violence victims experience some form of financial abuse. This is when a person is unable to attain financial independence and security that would allow them to leave their abusive relationship. This includes not having access to a separate bank account, having to give their abusive partner their paychecks, or not being able to get a job. If a woman lives with her partner and is unable to save money to leave, she may become homeless if she does not have a support system or access to services. In the African American community, domestic violence is most prevalent in marriages where the couples are low-income earners.
Cultural Norms and Immigration
Women who are immigrants may come from countries that normalize domestic violence. This may make it difficult to recognize and seek help, and language barriers may limit her accessibility to support services in the United States. Also, many cultures and religious institutions disavow divorce, which can cause shame and go against one’s beliefs. Immigration status could also be a discouraging factor.
Intimidation and Manipulation
Damaging property, abusing pets, and threatening self-harm are scare tactics to keep people in relationships. If a couple shares children, custody and the ability to remove them from the home are additional factors that make it difficult to leave.
The commonality among these factors is that the victim is not in control. Abusive relationships thrive under inequality. For more information, click here.
If you or a loved one are in need of support, visit womanspace.org or call the 24/7 crisis line at 609 394 900.