National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It’s Not Her Fault

by Christina Owens

You see her every day – in the street, in the supermarket and even at work. She’s the woman who wears long sleeves during the summer, sunglasses inside and keeps to herself. She wears a smile on the outside, but her sad eyes tell of another life; her secret life. No one knows how difficult her life is at home. She is ridiculed, she is told she’s good for nothing, she is yelled at for everything she does or doesn’t do, she generally does very few things right and, as a result, is “punished” by the same man who tells her every night that he loves her. She is afraid for her life at home, but more afraid to leave. She is stuck.

Any woman can find herself in these situations: situations where she is stuck, situations that aren’t her fault, situations where she is the victim of domestic violence. She can’t leave. Leaving puts her in more danger than staying and enduring the abuse that she has come to know. Leaving means starting over; being strong and she thinks that she is weak. She doesn’t know how to take the first step or even if she wants to. Although being a victim of domestic violence isn’t what she had planned for her life, it’s her reality and it’s what she knows.

Many outsiders say things like, “If I were her, I would just leave.” And that’s exactly what she thought she would do too. But the first time he struck her, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to and he apologized for it again and again and promised it was an isolated incident. She forgave him; after all, he was the love of her life. And it seemed like it was an isolated incident. Until three months later, when he struck her again, but this time it was her fault – that’s the lie she believed. Maybe if she had been better at cooking or at cleaning or if she had left the office earlier to avoid the traffic jam, he wouldn’t have gotten so angry. He apologized again and she forgave him again, telling herself she would be better to him. She loves him and believes that he loves her. She has learned all the excuses to make for him and she believes all of his lies. It’s definitely more complicated than “just leaving.” He controls every aspect of her life. She does things out of fear, she isn’t the woman she wanted to be, but she doesn’t know how to become that woman.

Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” try asking, “Why doesn’t the abuser stop being violent?” LOVE IS RESPECT.

*Thank you Christina for sharing this moving portrait of a victim. Your words will help others*

8 replies
  1. val says:

    Your story is a true depiction. I have been with two abusers and am working on breaking the silence and cycle. There should be more probono resources available. As well as some sort of temporary financial assistance for the transitional period to self sufficiency. We all need and Hand up not necessarily handouts…

  2. Meredith says:

    Christina, I am moved by your words and would like to ask permission to post this on my blog http://thecompassionfashionproject.blogspot.com/. I, too, have personal experience from my past about this issue and now that I have long moved past it I am inspired to help others. I am starting a movement called The Compassion Fashion Project where my goal is to encourage others to give to their local women’s shelters with a focus on clothing, accessories, and personal care products. Reaching out to our communities is such a simple thing we can all do with great reward. I wanted to post some statistics today about why women don’t leave abusive situations when I came across your posting here and believe that your words speak volumes to this point. I am just starting this project and would be honored to have your story be one of the first personal experiences on my blog.

  3. Meredith says:

    Thanks so much! I posted it this morning and am so happy to have your writing featured. Kudos to you for being a part of The Compassion Fashion Project.

  4. Chevy says:

    I was always a “strong” woman, I told myself if anyone ever harmed me I would leave them and never look back. I left him 2 days ago after months of physical and mental abuse but, I’m afraid I will go back. I still love him and it is so hard because he cut me off from all my friends and sometimes I feel like I have no one. I have no idea what to do, I have not been to work because I am afraid he will come there and I will probably lose my job. If anyone is reading this please say a prayer for me or give me some encouraging words.
    The woman who answered the phone when I called the hotline was a godsend, she gave me the courage to get into my car and drive away. I truly believe she saved my life. Thank you for all you are doing at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and this website.

  5. HotlineAdmin_RE says:

    Chevy,
    You are a strong woman! It sounds like you made a difficult decision to leave someone you love, to escape the abuse that you were experiencing. This will be a process and it will take time for you to feel like the strong, independent woman, you can into this relationship as. It is difficult to do on your own though. You deserve support. You are always welcome to call the Hotline again, if you are feeling like you might call him, or even if you just need someone to talk to. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and everything is anonymous and confidential. We can talk to you and safety plan about him going to your workplace or calling you. You’ve taken a big step, give yourself some time. It is normal to feel like this.

    Sincerely,
    NDVH Blog Admin

  6. Laura says:

    I refused to hide my abuse. I did not wear long sleeves in the summer but yet a bikini revealing the bruises.

  7. kkrastin says:

    You are right, Laura. It should not be a crime of shame and a wanting to hide; however, very often, it is the first thing victims tend to do is to try to cover it up so that no one will ask them about the bruises on the arms, legs, back, head, eyes, etc. Very often victims don’t want the world to know that they were being beaten by someone that they love and adore and afraid that his/her abuser’s reputation would be at stake as well, perhaps. So many reasons to hide.

    Not that we ever want to view the evidences of abuses to be worn as if it were a badge of honor by any means, but it is certainly noteworthy to know that we have reached that stage of it being okay for the world to know what a jerk our abuser is being to us. It is probably noteworthy, too, that when one sees someone revealing their bruises so boldly (meaning that there is no real attempt in covering them up any more) that this might be an approachable time for friends and family members to approach someone that does have evidences of abuse on them, don’t you think?

    Just some added food for thought.

    NDVH Hotline Advocate_kk

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