Her toddler is at home with his father. Their marriage has been rocky for years. No, not rocky. More like earth-quaky. Her husband has serious mental health issues. He self-medicates with alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. Twice before we have gone to court to get protective orders. Eventually, both times, she went back to him. I learned to wait. For the next time.
Now she is calling me again, frantic, because he has taken off with their son. She went home to find that he had superglued all of the locks shut, preventing her from entering the house. The house where he has previously broken every lamp, punched holes in the walls, smashed furniture. The house where soot marks in the corner remind her that he once tried to set the place on fire while she and the child slept. The house that echoes of beatings, rapings, and his belligerent rants. And now, he keeps calling her, taunting her, threatening to harm the boy, asking if she can hear her son scared and crying for his mamma. She can.
She needs my help again. Honestly, flittering through the back of my mind were these thoughts: “why does she keep going back?” “am I wasting my time?” After all, there are so many who need help and I am beginning to doubt that my efforts will have any lasting effect here. At the same time, I am afraid. For her. For her child.
Specializing in domestic violence and child endangerment cases for several years will give you a glimpse into a harrowing world of unrecognizable, twisted, dangerous and, at times, deadly relationships. All of my alarm bells went off every time I spoke with her. Why couldn’t she hear them?
On average a domestic violence victim will try to leave 7 times before he or she is able to leave for good.
Well-trained by more experienced people, I knew that on average a domestic violence victim will try to leave 7 times before s/he is able to leave for good. The National Domestic Violence Hotline. I agreed to help again. As it turned out, this was her time to make her stand. She finally left for good. Left. For good.
Since then, I’ve thought of her often. Her experiences became entwined, tangled up, a part of mine. Her face popped into my mind when someone mentioned a video called "why domestic violence victims don't leave." This is a November, 2012 talk given by Leslie Morgan Steiner. Ms. Steiner received her MBA in marketing from Wharton School of Business and has a successful career. And she had a big secret for a long time.
Victims don't leave for many reasons, but mostly, it's because they're afraid to die; they believe their abuser will kill them if they leave. Every parent should watch this video. And more survivors should speak out.
Authored by Cynthia L. Patton, Esq. This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult your own attorney for specific legal advice.