Thursday, June 25, 2009

When She Doesn't Want to Leave

What safety factors can advocates consider when helping someone who wants to stay with her abuser? In “When Battered Women Stay: Advocacy Beyond Leaving,” Jill Davies emphasizes a need to expand the current approach used by DV advocates by creating strategies that protect and empower women who want to stay with their abusers.

A woman might choose to stay in her abusive relationship because the risks of leaving outweigh the risks of staying. Statistics show that women are in the most danger directly after they leave an abusive relationship
. Leaving may also create more stress and difficulty for a victim and her children, like financial barriers or relocating her home. A woman may also choose to stay because she wants to fix her relationship and hopes her partner will stop his abusive behavior.

Domestic violence advocates can support these women by:

1) working with the victims to develop strategies to increase their safety while still in the relationship
2) ending violent and controlling behavior while not demonizing the abusive partner and supporting them to change
3) better understanding children’s needs and build opportunities for their well-being and prevent future harm.

Domestic violence advocates may consider more
creative strategies when helping a woman who wants to stay in her relationship. Its important for domestic violence advocates to be aware of respecting a woman's choices and empowering her to navigate and define her own relationship, no matter if she stays or leaves.

For more information on preparing to leave check out our pages “Getting Ready to Leave,” "Leaving,” and “After You Have Left.” More information for domestic violence and sexual assault advocates is located on our “Helping Others – Advocates” page.


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