It’s always the first question people ask themselves.
Observers of abusive relationships often wonder “Why doesn't he/she just leave?” , or “Why would you ever be with someone who treats you like that?”
The same way, victims may also find themselves wondering, “Why me?”.
Till about a year ago, I was a naive observer. Whenever I read articles or watched videos about domestic abuse, verbal or physical, I became frustrated. I hated seeing people be so miserable. I channeled my sadness into anger and asked questions like “Why do they stay?”, and “Don’t they care about the impact on their children?”.
Sometimes I think we purposely distance ourselves from people going through hardships. Maybe it helps us feel better about the world we live in when we believe that we control our fates completely.
Two years ago, during our weekly phone calls my mother and I would often discuss my aunt, and her crumbling marriage. I would ask the same questions. I could not understand, at 19 years old, why people would voluntarily stay married to people they are afraid of. I could not understand why my aunt didn't walk away.
My mom always said,
It is so much easier to judge than to sympathize, and easier to sympathize than to help.
Things have become much worse for my aunt since then, bad enough for her to be let go from her job because she couldn't cope with her depression and anxiety anymore. The financial power she had 20 years ago, which she may is non existent today. Today, she can’t afford to leave her abusive husband.
Seeing someone in my family be affected by something that always seemed so alien to me has evolved my perspective on this issue. I know questioning and blaming the victim is easy because I have done it in the past. But I know better now. I know that these men and women need real concrete help before any snap judgement.
I am proud to say that my family and I will be doing everything we can to support my aunt through this, with whatever we have. I hope some day if you have the chance you do too.