If your answer to that question is yes, then Katrina Fernandez has some food for thought for you... and for me:
Usually victims of domestic abuse live in shame and blame themselves – how could they have been so stupid to fall for such a vile man. It embarrasses me to this day to admit to my past marital failure and my stupidity for marrying him in the first place. It’s often that humiliation preventing women from seeking the help they need.
I stayed because of pride. I didn’t want to admit I made such a colossal mistake and that I was so easily fooled and manipulated. I stayed because I know how lonely it is growing up as a child of divorce and I didn’t want to inflict that same loneliness on my own son. I stayed because my ex-husband had convinced me no one else would want me and that I couldn’t do any better. I stayed because I was scared of raising a child alone. I stayed because I doubted myself and my strength to persevere. I stayed because he hadn’t started hitting me yet so it wasn’t really abuse abuse. I stayed because I thought it was my fault. I stayed because he always said he was sorry and would try really hard to change. He never did. But eventually I changed. And that’s why I left.
Instead of demanding an explanation from the victim (why I stayed), we ought to be demanding abusers to explain why they abuse. The #whyIstayed campaign has good intentions but I still find it victim blaming and misdirected. If you can look at an abused woman and ask her why she chose to stay instead of just asking how you can help you’re contributing to the shame that makes it so hard for her to leave.
There's much more, including a list of reasons collected on social media as to why women have stayed in abusive relationships... it's seriously thought provoking and incredibly sad.
I'm hoping I'll pause and think of this post, or at least its content, the next time I'm quick to dismiss the victim in an abusive relationship.