Updated: Nov 9, 2020
“Why don’t you just let things calm down? No need to make any more waves.” “Might as well just take what you’ve got. It’s not worth the hassle of getting what’s legally yours.” “Every marriage has its problems. It’s unfortunate yours didn’t work out.” “Just give him space. He’s a nice guy after all. It will blow over.” “Stop being dramatic. It’s just a divorce, not the end of the world.” “You should keep your personal problems private.” “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. Don’t you think you’re being a little extreme?” Cold shoulders. Alliances with the man who damaged you. Reminders your sharing about verbal and physical abuse creates discomfort. Sympathy for him. Quiet loss of friendships. Minimizing.
Many of us avoid the topic of intimate partner violence because 1. It’s really uncomfortable to talk about and 2. “We’re not the ones out there raping women, right?”. But these subtle messages speak VOLUMES to women who have the courage to leave. These are clear nudges to BE QUIET. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Just move on without CAUSING A SCENE. It’s easier to think she is ridiculous than to entertain the disturbing thought that maybe she is telling the truth. It is easier to turn away. It is easier to unfriend her. It is easier to pretend it’s just blown out of proportion. And this is how, as a culture, we have let women down who gather up the courage to leave. If you are one of those people who feels at a loss to help end intimate partner violence, this is where it starts. Don’t abandon her. Take her seriously. Don’t hush her. Don’t quietly unfriend her because her story makes you uncomfortable. Don’t encourage her to suppress the truth, the way she already has for YEARS. Don’t validate her fears; tell her how much of a badass she is for facing them. Assure her that, although she might still be in danger, she is safe WITH YOU. The most dangerous time for a woman experiencing intimate partner violence is when she LEAVES. It is highest during the first 6 months after she leaves, then her risk falls off progressively over the following 6 months. Don’t make her face this incredibly scary time ALONE. Intimate partner violence is not a private issue, nor a women’s issue. It is a collective, human issue. facebook.com/groups/iamunapologetic