Why does she stay? The following factors are reasons why a victim might find leaving an abusive relationship difficult: ¨economic dependence ¨ fear of greater physical danger to themselves and their children if they attempt to leave ¨ fear of losing custody of children ¨ lack of alternative housing ¨ lack of job skills ¨ fear of involvement in court processes ¨ belief that partner will change ¨ cultural and religious constraints ¨ ambivalence and fear over making formidable life changes ¨ social isolation resulting in lack of support from family or friends and lack of information regarding alternatives ¨ she loves him. In a conversation with a former batterer, he said, "I beat her because it worked. It got me what I wanted which was control, power and a way to release my emotions."
What usually happens to the abuser? If the police are called and there is clear evidence of who the abuser is, the abuser may be arrested, regardless if the victim wants to press charges or not. A protective or restraining order may be filed to protect the victim from the abuser attacking again. If arrested, the abuser may pay a fine, be ordered into counseling, or both. Agencies like Bay Area Turning Point provide the victim with advocacy, counseling and shelter if needed.
What about the children? Sadly, in 1/3 of homes where the mother is abused, the children are also beaten. Witnessing violence causes psychological trauma similar to that of a physically abused child. Living in a violent home impedes the social and academic progress of children. Violence also breeds violence that is often repeated in the next generation.
Do the families help? Often, a family’s home is the first place an abuser will look for a victim, which may place the family in danger. Some families are unable to help and many really do not understand how to help. Family violence has numerous dynamics that are generally addressed more effectively by those with specific training to do so. Victims leave about six times before finally staying away – the family may not be willing to keep helping and be overwhelmed by crisis.
What is it like to be in a shelter? What do the residents do? A shelter is like its own little community. Everyone has to work together to make the community a safe, clean, positive place to live. The women attend educational, recovery, and personal development classes. They learn skills relating to healthy communication, problem solving, how to budget, effective parenting, and participate in pathways to healing from trauma. Some return to school, obtain a GED, or enter job training. Many become employed and begin to plan an independent future. Children attend school, the agency’s childcare, and participate in educational and healing activities. For some of the children, it’s the first time their scars and needs have been attended. Each woman is assigned a caseworker and the child advocate assists each child.
Do abusers ever cause trouble at the shelter? Typically, no. The abuser is typically unabusive to strangers and symbols of authority. The shelter has a security system with camera monitoring. If an unwelcome visitor arrives, h/she is informed that it is a felony to trespass on a shelter property. They leave calmly 99% of the time. The shelter is within three minutes of police response. The police have been called because of an unwelcome visitor, but he/she has left before they arrived.
Can a man be a victim of domestic violence? Yes. Domestic Violence knows no gender boundries and can happen in any town, in any family and any socio-economic background.
Does your partner?
Isolate you from
friends and family?
Exhibit extreme jealousy?
Threaten to hurt
you, your children or your family?
Force you to have
sex against your will?
Hit, punch, slap,
kick, or bite?
Do you mean the people we see on TV sleeping in the streets? Homelessness is generally caused by a crisis, such as family violence. However, other circumstances that lead to homelessness include loss of employment, loss of the home, unwanted pregnancy, death of the primary financial provider and other changes in one’s life. Shelter helps curtail the “downward spiral” of a crisis circumstance that has become unmanageable. Sometimes, women and children flee abuse (or are thrown out of the home) and have no place to stay….they have become homeless. The more accurate term for the homeless circumstance addressed by BATP is displacement -- being temporarily placed in an unusual life circumstance and requiring assistance to regain one’s self-sufficiency.
In Harris County, on an average night, there are over 1,500 homeless people in shelters. 51% of them are women and children. Of the children, 2/3 are ages six and under. The thousands of other women and children sleep in motel rooms, their cars, at a friend’s home for the night or on a park bench.