“Why does she stay? Why doesn’t she just leave?” This question is often times asked of victims of domestic violence. While it may be intended as a genuine question for understanding, it tends to place the blame on the victim—implying that it’s not that hard to leave or its her fault for staying.
In the video above Leslie Morgan Steiner, a domestic violence survivor explains the reality of why women stay. Steiner explains that she thought of herself as the “last person on Earth who would stay with a man who beats (her), but in fact (she) was a very typical victim because of her age.” When Steiner was 22 she had fallen into what she describes as a “psychological trap disguised as love.” Women between the ages of 16 to 24 are three times more likely to be domestic violence victims. Despite the guns to her head, emotional abuse and isolation from her peers, Steiner describes that one of the reasons she stayed was because she never realized or considered herself as a victim of domestic violence.
Unaware of the signs and the patterns, she endured the abuse with hopes of helping “Connor face his demons.” Steiner’s story sheds light on a secret that many women all over the world live with—no mater what social class, education, race or sexual orientation. Her story of abuse ends when her denial was broken and she realized that the man she loved was going to kill her if she stayed.
When asking the question “why does she stay,” it is vital to understand that there are many reasons why people choose to stay, and often times the threat of leaving may be death. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is in an abusive relationship, be supportive and listen. He or she doesn’t need your judgment; they need your support and prayers.