“He’s going to find me here. It’s only a matter of time,” she said with a resolved and fatal certainty.
She had driven hundreds of miles and multiple states away to stay at the women’s shelter where I worked as a counselor. With her kids in tow and nothing but what she could fit in her car, she came in the hopes of starting a new life. A safe life, free from her abuser.
She was hesitant to find work, fearing he would track her down through her tax information. And though I knew the lengths batterers went to in controlling their spouse, part of me questioned and doubted her fear, thinking there was no way he could find her from so far away.
Until he did just that.
A Worldwide Problem
Domestic violence. They are words you don’t hear in everyday talk at the office or at your weekly “Mommy and Me” class. That’s because domestic violence prefers to keep hidden behind closed doors and drawn curtains. It feels most comfortable lurking in the shadows, in whispers, downcast eyes, and long-sleeve shirts.
In fact, domestic violence is not something we hear about unless it happens to a friend or loved one. Occasionally though, abuse is forced out into public, and we see its ugly face splattered across the headlines. We see the bruises. We hear details that make us shutter in horror. And sometimes, like in the high-profile case of the NFL player Ray Rice, we see domestic violence in all its dark and hideous terror.
We wonder how something like that could happen. We ask why women stay with someone who hurts them, asking ourselves, Why don’t they just leave?1