"And, of course, we have rather grand and indulgent ideas about what women in abusive relationships should do. We have opinions about what we would do in her situation, as if our hypothesizing bears any resemblance to lived experience. She should leave him, we say. She should press charges. She should get a restraining order. She should go to a shelter. And when a woman doesn’t make the choices we approve of, she, rather than her abuser, must bear the responsibility for her suffering.
We demonstrate so little empathy or kindness for women in abusive relationships. We don’t want to hear real stories about what it’s like to endure such relationships. We don’t want to hear how love and fear and pride and shame shape the decisions we make in abusive relationships. We don’t want to hear the truth because it is too complicated. We leave these women with nowhere to go. We force them into silence and invisibility unless they make the choices we want them to make.
In a perfect world, yes, a woman should leave an abusive relationship. She should have the emotional, physical, and financial means to do so. She should be supported by law enforcement and the justice system. She should receive counseling and emotional support. She should be given safe passage to a new life. The perfect world is made up of so much should.”